Tags: "leetcode", "bfs", "dfs", access_time 2-min read

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Word Ladder Ii

Created: November 30, 2019 by [lek-tin]

Last updated: November 30, 2019

Given two words (beginWord and endWord), and a dictionary’s word list, find all shortest transformation sequence(s) from beginWord to endWord, such that: 1. Only one letter can be changed at a time 2. Each transformed word must exist in the word list. Note that beginWord is not a transformed word.


  1. Return an empty list if there is no such transformation sequence.
  2. All words have the same length.
  3. All words contain only lowercase alphabetic characters.
  4. You may assume no duplicates in the word list.
  5. You may assume beginWord and endWord are non-empty and are not the same.

Example 1:

beginWord = "hit",
endWord = "cog",
wordList = ["hot","dot","dog","lot","log","cog"]


Example 2:

beginWord = "hit"
endWord = "cog"
wordList = ["hot","dot","dog","lot","log"]

Output: []

Explanation: The endWord “cog” is not in wordList, therefore no possible transformation.


end -> start: bfs start -> end: dfs

from collections import deque

class Solution:
    def findLadders(self, beginWord: str, endWord: str, wordList: List[str]) -> List[List[str]]:
        if endWord not in wordList:
            return []

        dict = set(wordList)
        distance = {}

        # record distances
        # from endWord to startWord
        self.bfs(endWord, distance, dict)
        # beginWord: "hit"
        # endWord:   "cog"
        # wordList:  ["hot","dot","dog","lot","log","cog"]
        # distance:  {'cog': 0, 'dog': 1, 'log': 1, 'dot': 2, 'lot': 2, 'hot': 3, 'hit': 4}
        results = []
        # backtracking
        self.dfs(beginWord, endWord, distance, dict, [beginWord], results)

        return results

    def bfs(self, start, distance, dict):
        distance[start] = 0
        queue = deque([start])
        while queue:
            word = queue.popleft()
            for next_word in self.get_next_words(word, dict):
                if next_word not in distance:
                    distance[next_word] = distance[word] + 1

    def get_next_words(self, word, dict):
        words = []
        for i in range(len(word)):
            for c in 'abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz':
                next_word = word[:i] + c + word[i + 1:]
                if next_word != word and next_word in dict:
        return words

    def dfs(self, curr, target, distance, dict, path, results):
        if curr == target:

        for word in self.get_next_words(curr, dict):
            if distance[word] != distance[curr] - 1:
            self.dfs(word, target, distance, dict, path, results)