# [R] Find a rectangle of maximal area

Frank E Harrell Jr f.harrell at Vanderbilt.Edu
Tue Mar 23 04:34:10 CET 2010

```A fast Fortran solution may be found by:
require(Hmisc)
?largest.empty

Frank

Ray Brownrigg wrote:
> On Tue, 23 Mar 2010, Hans W Borchers wrote:
>> Barry Rowlingson <b.rowlingson <at> lancaster.ac.uk> writes:
>>> On Mon, Mar 22, 2010 at 4:28 PM, Hans W Borchers
>>>
>>>> Still I believe that a clever approach might be possible avoiding the
>>>> need to call a commercial solver. I am getting this hope from one of
>>>> Jon Bentley's articles in the series Programming Pearls.
>>> Is this the 'Largest Empty Rectangle' problem?
>>>
>>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Largest_empty_rectangle
>> Dear Barry,
>>
>> thanks for this pointer. I never suspected this problem could have a name
>> of its own. Rethinking the many possible applications makes it clear: I
>> should have searched for it before.
>>
>> I looked in some of the references of the late 80s and found two algorithms
>> that appear to be appropriate for implementation in R. The goal is to solve
>> the problem for n=200 points in less than 10-15 secs.
>>
> How about less than 2 seconds? [And 500 points in less than 15 seconds - on a 2-year-old
> DELL Optiplex GX755.]
>
> The implementation below (at end) loops over all 'feasible' pairs of x values, then
> selects the largest rectangle for each pair, subject to your specified constraints.  I
> have no idea if it implements a previously published algorithm.
>
> Other constraints are reasonably easily accommodated.
>
> HTH,
> Ray Brownrigg
>
>> Thanks again, Hans Werner
>>
>>> I had a look at some of the references from Wikipedia, but they all
>>> follow a similar pattern, one I have noticed in many computer science
>>> journal articles:
>>>
>>>  1. State a problem that looks tricky.
>>>  2. Say "We have an efficient algorithm for the problem stated in #1"
>>>  3. Proceed to derive, using much algebra and theory, the efficient
>>> algorithm. 4. Stop.
>>>
>>> The idea of actually producing some dirty, filthy, actual code to
>>> implement their shiny algorithms never seems to cross their minds.
>>>
>>>  I also found a similar question from 2008 asked on the R-sig-geo
>>> mailing list. That didn't get much help either!
>>>
>>> Sorry.
>>>
>>> Barry
>
> N = 200
> x <- runif(N)
> y <- runif(N)
> ox <- order(x)
> x <- x[ox]
> y <- y[ox]
> x <- c(0, x, 1)
> y <- c(0, y, 1)
> plot(x, y, xlim=c(0, 1), ylim=c(0, 1), pch="*", col=2)
> omaxa <- 0
> for(i in 1:(length(x) - 1))
>   for(j in (i+1):length(x)) {
>     x1 <- x[i]
>     x2 <- x[j]
>     XX <- x2 - x1
>     if (XX > 0.5) break
>     yy <- c(0, y[i:j], 1)
>     oyy <- order(yy)
>     yy <- yy[oyy]
>     dyy <- diff(yy)
>     whichdyy <- (dyy <= 0.5)  & (dyy >= 0.5*XX) & (dyy <= 2*XX)
>     wy1 <- yy[whichdyy]
>     if (length(wy1) > 0) {
>       wy2 <- yy[(1:length(dyy))[whichdyy] + 1]
>       k <- which.max(dyy[whichdyy])
>       maxa <- (x2 - x1)*(wy2[k] - wy1[k])
>       if (maxa > omaxa) {
>         omaxa <- maxa
>         mx1 <- x1
>         mx2 <- x2
>         my1 <- wy1[k]
>         my2 <- wy2[k]
>       }
>     }
>   }
> lines(c(mx1, mx2, mx2, mx1, mx1), c(my1, my1, my2, my2, my1), col=2)
>
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