May 17, 2013
It is a classic problem from computer science to determine the number of ways in which coins can be combined to form a particular target; as an example, there are 31 ways to form 40 cents from an unlimited supply of pennies (1 cent), nickels (5 cents), dimes (10 cents) and quarters (25 cents), ranging from the 3-coin set (5 10 25) to the 40-coin set consisting only of pennies.
The solution is usually stated in recursive form: if c is the first coin in the set of coins cs and n is the target, the solution is the number of ways to reach the target after removing c from cs plus the number of ways to reach n − c using all the coins in cs. The algorithm to make a list of the coins, instead of the count, is the same, but keeping track of the list of coins instead of the count.
Your task is to write two functions, one to determine the count and one to determine the list of coins. When you are finished, you are welcome to read or run a suggested solution, or to post your own solution or discuss the exercise in the comments below.