It's the Xinrui Ma


Tag: HashMap

3. Longest Substring Without Repeating Characters

Given a string, find the length of the longest substring without repeating characters.


Given “abcabcbb”, the answer is “abc”, which the length is 3.

Given “bbbbb”, the answer is “b”, with the length of 1.

Given “pwwkew”, the answer is “wke”, with the length of 3. Note that the answer must be a substring, “pwke” is a subsequence and not a substring.


By using HashSet as a sliding window, checking if a character in the current can be done in O(1)O(1).

A sliding window is an abstract concept commonly used in array/string problems. A window is a range of elements in the array/string which usually defined by the start and end indices, i.e. [i, j)[i,j) (left-closed, right-open). A sliding window is a window “slides” its two boundaries to the certain direction. For example, if we slide [i, j)[i,j) to the right by 11 element, then it becomes [i+1, j+1)[i+1,j+1) (left-closed, right-open).

Back to our problem. We use HashSet to store the characters in current window [i, j)[i,j) (j = ij=i initially). Then we slide the index jj to the right. If it is not in the HashSet, we slide jj further. Doing so until s[j] is already in the HashSet. At this point, we found the maximum size of substrings without duplicate characters start with index ii. If we do this for all ii, we get our answer.

The above solution requires at most 2n steps. In fact, it could be optimized to require only n steps. Instead of using a set to tell if a character exists or not, we could define a mapping of the characters to its index. Then we can skip the characters immediately when we found a repeated character.

Key idea: If we find str.charAt(j) already exists in map at position k, we change our i to k + 1.