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Day 9: Smoke Basin

by @VincenzoBaz

Puzzle description

Solution of Part 1

Part 1 requires us to find all low points of the grid, where a low point is a cell in the grid which contains a value smaller than the four adjacent values (up, down, left, right).

I model the two dimensional grid containing height values using a case class called Heightmap. I provide it with a utility method which returns the list of coordinates and height values of the cells adjacent to a given cell. The list can have size 2, 3 or 4 depending whether the cell is on the edge of the grid or not:

type Height = Int
case class Position(x: Int, y: Int)

case class Heightmap(width: Int, height: Int, data: Vector[Vector[Height]]):

def apply(pos: Position): Height = data(pos.y)(pos.x)

def neighborsOf(pos: Position): List[(Position, Height)] =
val Position(x, y) = pos
Option.when(x > 0)(Position(x - 1, y)),
Option.when(x < width - 1)(Position(x + 1, y)),
Option.when(y > 0)(Position(x, y - 1)),
Option.when(y < height - 1)(Position(x, y + 1))
.map(pos => pos -> apply(pos))

Using this method I implement the lowPointsPositions method which iterates over all the cells in the grid and for each of them, it checks if the value in it is smaller than the values of adjacent cells:

  def lowPointsPositions: LazyList[Position] =
LazyList.range(0, height).flatMap { y =>
LazyList.range(0, width).map { x =>
val pos = Position(x, y)
.collect {
case (value, pos, neighbors) if neighbors.forall(value < _) =>

The method forall on collections returns true only if the predicate it is provided with holds true for all elements of the collection. It is similar to the exists methods which returns true if at least one element in the collection satisfies the provided predicate. Finally, collect allows us to simplify chains of map and filter.

You can find more information about these methods in the documentation

We now have all the tools to solve part 1:

def part1(input: String): Int =
val heightMap = Heightmap.fromString(input) + 1).sum
end part1

Solution of Part 2

In part 2 we have to create, for each low point, a basin: a group of grid cells that the smoke traverses while flowing downward towards the low point.

This is how we can solve part 2 after implementing the basin creation for a single low point:

  val lowPoints = heightMap.lowPointsPositions
val basins =, heightMap))


To build a basin from a low point I use a data structure provided in the standard library: Queue which implements a first-in-first-out (FIFO) data structure.

Starting from the low point, I retrieve the neighbors of a cell and check if they should be part of the basin, in other words whether they contain the digit 9. I also remember the coordinates of the cells I visited using a Set which provides constant time contains checks. As the basin grows, the cells that form it are stored in the basinAcc accumulator. As I continue to retrieve neighbors of neighbors, I add the cells that still need to be processed in the queue. The algorithm stops when there are no more cells to visit:

def basin(lowPoint: Position, heightMap: Heightmap): Set[Position] =
def iter(visited: Set[Position], toVisit: Queue[Position], basinAcc: Set[Position]): Set[Position] =
// No cells to visit, we are done
if toVisit.isEmpty then basinAcc
// Select next cell to visit
val (currentPos, remaining) = toVisit.dequeue
// Collect the neighboring cells that should be part of the basin
val newNodes = heightMap.neighborsOf(currentPos).toList.collect {
case (pos, height) if !visited(currentPos) && height != 9 => pos
// Continue to next neighbor
iter(visited + currentPos, remaining ++ newNodes, basinAcc ++ newNodes)

iter(Set.empty, Queue(lowPoint), Set(lowPoint))

Run it locally

You can get this solution locally by cloning the scalacenter/scala-advent-of-code repository.

$ git clone
$ cd scala-advent-of-code

You can run it with scala-cli.

$ scala-cli 2021 -M day9.part1
The solution is 448
$ scala-cli 2021 -M day9.part2
The solution is 1417248

You can replace the content of the input/day9 file with your own input from to get your own solution.

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