Project 3: Graph modeling and graph algorithms
This project requires you to model the problem below as graph and then use a known graph
algorithm to solve the problem. You are not allowed to use the internet or consult any
references. This is an individual project. This policy will be strictly enforced.
This problem is based on the “Itsy-Bitsy Spider” maze problem (from “MAD MAZES: Intriguing
Mind Twisters for Puzzle Buffs, Game Nuts and Other Smart People” by Robert Abbott). The
text of the problem is quoted below. A diagram of the maze is provided separately.
Fred was discussing a problem with his architect:
“I have a terrible itsy bitsy spider infestation. Actually, it’s only one itsy bitsy spider, but he’s
very persistent. He spins a web on the roof that clogs up the gutter. When it rains, he is washed
down the water spout. But then along comes the sun and dries up all the rain and the itsy bitsy
spider climbs up the spout again. And there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.”
“Don’t worry,” said the architect. “He may be persistent but spiders aren’t that bright. I
suggest we put a maze at the bottom of the water spout; then the spider won’t be able to find
his way back up.”
The architect came back the next day with the diagram shown at the right. “What I propose
is this: we run the water spout into a large metal box. The box will contain many small
chambers on five levels. The water will come in at the top, on Level A, will travel from chamber
to chamber, and will drain out at this opening on Level E. There has to be a path through
the box, otherwise the water won’t be able to drain through. But I’ve made the path very
complicated. Once the spider gets washed out of the opening on Level E, he won’t be able to
figure out how to get back through the box and back into the water spout.
“The solid black lines represent walls, which the spider cannot get through. I’ve used yellow
to indicate floors. If the spider’s on a yellow square, he cannot travel from that point down to
the next level. If a square is not colored yellow, then he can travel down to the corresponding
square in the level below. To figure out whether the spider can travel up, you have to check out
the corresponding square in the level above. If that square has no floor, then the spider can
travel up. If the square does have a floor (that is, it’s colored yellow), then the spider cannot
“This sounds like a perfectly reasonable plan to me,” said Fred. “In fact, I can’t figure out how
to get through the box myself.” So, they built the box and added it to the water spout. The
first rainstorm did wash the spider through the box, but, unfortunately, after the sun dried up
the rain the spider went back into the box, traveled through it and back up the water spout.
Can you discover a path the spider could take to get through the box? You have to in the
entrance on Level E and then work your way up to the water spout on Level A.
2 Modeling the problem
Before you write a program to solve this problem, you will first write a report describing (in English
and pseudocode) how you will solve this problem. This report should answer two basic questions:
1. What type of graph would you use to model the problem input (detailed in the Section 3.1),
and how would you construct this graph? (I.e., what do the vertices, edges, etc., correspond
to?) Be specific here; we discussed a number of different types of graphs in class.
2. What algorithm will you use to solve the problem? Be sure to describe not just the general
algorithm you will use, but how you will identify the sequence of moves the spider must take
in order to reach the goal.
3 Coding your solution
In addition to the report, you should implement your algorithm in C++ or Java so that it can
solve “Itsy Bitsy Spider” mazes. Your code may be in C++ or Java, but it must compile and run
on the C4 Linux Lab machines.
Your code may be split into any number of files. In addition, you are allowed to make use of
any built-in library, and C++ users may use the Boost library in their implementations. Boost is
a free, open-source library with a rich collection of mathematical functions, including several that
deal with graphs. You may read more about Boost at www.boost.org.
3.1 Input format
Your program should read its input from the file input.txt, in the following format. The input
begins with a one positive integer on a line representing the number of mazes in the file. Mazes are
separated by blank lines in the input.
Each maze starts with 9 integers on 3 lines. The first line describes the number of levels, rows,
and columns in the maze (`, r, and c), respectively, while the second and third lines describe the
locations of the start and goal. Note that the coordinates of the start and goal are given using a
base of 0.
The next hr lines contain the directional information for each cell in the maze. The bottom
level is described first, and all rows for one level of the maze are described before the next level
appears. Each line has c 6-digit binary values, where each bit represents whether the spider can
travel in that direction (1) or not (0). The direction bits are given in the order north, east, south,
west, up, and down.
For the original “Itsy Bitsy Spider” maze, the input is:
5 4 4
0 3 3
4 0 0
010010 010100 010100 001100
001010 001010 001010 100010
101010 101000 110000 000110
100000 100010 010010 000100
010001 010100 011100 000110
000011 000011 101011 000011
010001 000110 101000 001001
010010 000101 100001 100010
001010 011000 000110 001001
101001 100001 001001 100011
100010 001001 110000 000110
000011 110000 010110 000111
000001 001010 010001 000110
010010 100110 001010 000011
010001 000110 100010 000011
000011 010010 000101 000011
011000 010101 010100 000101
101001 010001 000101 001001
101000 010001 000101 100001
100001 010001 010100 000101
Note that the levels are given bottom-to-top, rather than top-to-bottom, as they appear in the
original. The starting point for the maze is the bottom-left corner of the bottom level (coordinate
(0, 3, 3), last bit string on the fourth line), while the goal is in the upper-left of the top level
(coordinate (4, 0, 0)).
As an example, when the spider is in the upper-left corner of the bottom level of the maze (the
first bit string in the input), it can move east or up. You may assume that the input is well-formed:
the spider will not be able to leave the maze from the top, bottom, left, right, front, or back, and
there are no “one-way” walls. You may also assume that the maze will not contain more than 10
million cells total.
3.2 Output format
Your program should write its output to the file output.txt, in the following format. The output
should consist of a path from the start to the goal, for each maze. Each solution should be a
single line consisting of a sequence of moves, separated by spaces, where each move is a single letter
representing the direction of that move: N, E, S, W, U, or D (north, east, south, west, up, or
down). Of course, the sequence of moves must solve the corresponding maze described in the input
For example, if your first four moves take you 2 spaces right and down on the bottom level, then
rise to second-lowest level, your output should begin with E E S U.
You are welcome to try figuring out the solution to the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” puzzle on your own,
but that won’t get you any points. Your assignment is to model the maze as a graph and to solve
the problem using an appropriate graph algorithm.
Consider the 3 × 3 × 3 maze whose layout is represented by the ASCII art below (bottom level
| +-+ |
|# # #|
| |# |
| | | |
+-+ | |
| +-+ |
| # #|
In this representation, the walls are shown as -, |, and +, while the floors are represented as #.
Assuming the starting point is the upper-left corner of the bottom (first) level, and the goal is the
bottom-right of the top (final) level, the input describing this maze is given by:
3 3 3
0 0 0
2 2 2
000010 011000 000110
001010 100010 001010
110000 010100 100100
001001 010010 000101
100001 001011 001011
000010 100000 100000
011000 000101 001000
101000 010001 100101
110001 010100 000100
The solution to this maze is:
U S D S E E N U U W D D N E U W U W S S E E
You must submit a zip archive containing 1) your report (described in Section 2) as a PDF document, 2) your code (described in Section 3), and 3) a README file describing how to compile and
run your code to Canvas. If your code requires more than a simple command to compile and run
then you must also provide a Makefile and/or shell script. A simple command might be something
g++ *.cpp -o maze
If you are using Boost in your solution, you must provide a Makefile and/or shell script that
uses the environment variable $BOOST_HOME (pointing to the Boost installation directory) to compile
As this is an individual project, your project report and code will be checked for plagiarism.
Report 50 points
Graph model 30
Algorithm description 20
Code 50 points
README file 5
Follows input and output specs 10
Compiles and is correct 30
Good coding style 5
Note: if your code is unreasonably slow, you will lose points for both your algorithm design and
your correct output grade.