Efficient Algorithms for Battleship

Authors Loïc Crombez , Guilherme D. da Fonseca , Yan Gerard

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Loïc Crombez
  • Université Clermont Auvergne, LIMOS, Aubière, France
Guilherme D. da Fonseca
  • Université Aix Marseille, LIS, France
Yan Gerard
  • Université Clermont Auvergne, LIMOS, Aubière, France

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Loïc Crombez, Guilherme D. da Fonseca, and Yan Gerard. Efficient Algorithms for Battleship. In 10th International Conference on Fun with Algorithms (FUN 2021). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 157, pp. 11:1-11:15, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2020)


We consider an algorithmic problem inspired by the Battleship game. In the variant of the problem that we investigate, there is a unique ship of shape S ⊂ ℤ² which has been translated in the lattice ℤ². We assume that a player has already hit the ship with a first shot and the goal is to sink the ship using as few shots as possible, that is, by minimizing the number of missed shots. While the player knows the shape S, which position of S has been hit is not known. Given a shape S of n lattice points, the minimum number of misses that can be achieved in the worst case by any algorithm is called the Battleship complexity of the shape S and denoted c(S). We prove three bounds on c(S), each considering a different class of shapes. First, we have c(S) ≤ n-1 for arbitrary shapes and the bound is tight for parallelogram-free shapes. Second, we provide an algorithm that shows that c(S) = O(log n) if S is an HV-convex polyomino. Third, we provide an algorithm that shows that c(S) = O(log log n) if S is a digital convex set. This last result is obtained through a novel discrete version of the Blaschke-Lebesgue inequality relating the area and the width of any convex body.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Computational geometry
  • Polyomino
  • digital geometry
  • decision tree
  • lattice
  • HV-convexity
  • convexity


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