# Bank OCR

September 14, 2020 ☼ JS

Coding katas are fun to do. It’s also a good way to train your problem-solving skills and prepare for technical interviews.

You work for a bank, which has recently purchased an ingenious machine to assist in reading letters and faxes sent in by branch offices. The machine scans the paper documents, and produces a file with a number of entries which each look like this:

``````    _  _     _  _  _  _  _
| _| _||_||_ |_   ||_||_|
||_  _|  | _||_|  ||_| _|``````

Each entry is 4 lines long, and each line has 27 characters. The first 3 lines of each entry contain an account number written using pipes and underscores, and the fourth line is blank. Each account number should have 9 digits, all of which should be in the range 0-9. A normal file contains around 500 entries.

Your first task is to write a program that can take this file and parse it into actual account numbers.

You can read the full kata here

## Approach

When I solve these sort of problems I try first to figure out what are the constants of the task. It helps simplify your solution if you can identify some assumptions”. In this case we can identify the following ones:

``````// Each entry is 4 lines long
const LINE_HEIGHT = 4;
// Account number should have 9 digits
const ACCOUNT_NUMBER = 9;
// The digit is a 3x3 matrix
const MATRIX_SIZE: 3;``````

## Pseudo code

Before jumping into the solution I usually write some pseudo-code in order to see if I understood the problem correctly and if I’m going to be able to cover the necessary cases:

``````
- Read the file from disk (we can keep it a sync operation. No need to stream for 500 text records)
- Parse the text digits into Number:
- Go through the file line by line
- Build a map with the digit numerical rappresentation
- Check if the current value is in the map
- Store parsed results in an array``````

Tips: I always use a dev-ready playgoround so I don’t waste time setting up tooling and I can focus on the solution. I personally use node-typescript-boilerplate that comes with Typescript and jest supports.

## The solution

First of all let’s create a `txt` file with some smaple cases:

`````` _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _
| || || || || || || || || |
|_||_||_||_||_||_||_||_||_|

_  _     _  _  _  _  _
| _| _||_||_ |_   ||_||_|
||_  _|  | _||_|  ||_| _|
``````

``````import { promisify } from "util";
import { readFile } from "fs";
import { join } from "path";

const FILE = join(__dirname, "account-numbers.txt");

}

(async () => {
try {
} catch (error) {
console.error(`Something went wrong \${JSON.stringify(error)}`);
}
})();``````

Now we need to parse the numbers. We can think of digits as 3x3 cells. We can then assign a real value to them by mapping the text rapresenation to some sort of a dictionary:

``````interface RawDigit {
[key: string]: number;
}

// prettier-ignore
const dictonary: RawDigit = {
[
' _ ' +
'| |' +
'|_|'
]: 0,
[
'   ' +
'  |' +
'  |'
]: 1,
[
' _ ' +
' _|' +
'|_ '
]: 2,
[
' _ ' +
' _|' +
' _|'
]: 3,

// ...
}``````

After that we need to write a parser that will be able to transform the `RawDigit` into a number:

``````import { dictonary } from "./dictionary";

const LINE_HEIGHT = 4;

// accountSnapshot is the result of the readFile operation
export function accountReader(accountSnapshot: string): string[] {
const buffer: string[] = [];
const accountNumbers: string[] = [];

// Go through accountSnapshot and every 4 line process the row
accountSnapshot.split("\n").forEach((line: string) => {
buffer.push(line);

if (buffer.length === LINE_HEIGHT) {
/*
Buffer (after joining) at this point will look like this
_  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _
| || || || || || || || || |
|_||_||_||_||_||_||_||_||_|

We send the string to parseRawDigit method
*/
accountNumbers.push(parseRawDigit(buffer.join("\n")));
buffer.length = 0;
}
});

return accountNumbers;
}

function parseRawDigit(rawAccountText: string) {
let parsedAccount = "";
/*
We know that an acocunt number has 9 digits so we have to parse the single digits by passing the position and the whole line
*/
for (let digitPlace = 0; digitPlace < 9; digitPlace++) {
parsedAccount += dictonary[extractRawDigit(digitPlace, rawAccountText)];
}
return parsedAccount;
}

function extractRawDigit(position: number, accountText: string) {
const accountLines = accountText.split("\n");

/*
accountLines at this point looks like this:

[
'    _  _     _  _  _  _  _',
'  | _| _||_| _ |_   ||_||_|',
'  ||_  _|  | _||_|  ||_| _',
'
]

Every array item it's a line in the 3x3 matrix. We have now to take only the first 3 chars of the string for each line to construct our matrix
*/

let extractedRawDigit = "";
[0, 1, 2].forEach((lineNum) => {
const startPos = position * 3;
const endPos = (position + 1) * 3;
extractedRawDigit += accountLines[lineNum].slice(startPos, endPos);

/*
|
|
_
_|
|_
_
_|
_|

... etc

this can be easilly compared to our Dictionary as you can see in the parseRawDigit() method

*/
});
return extractedRawDigit;
}``````

Here’s the final code:

``````(async () => {
try {