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Solution: Encode and Decode TinyURL

seanpgallivan profile image seanpgallivan ・3 min read

This is part of a series of Leetcode solution explanations (index). If you liked this solution or found it useful, please like this post and/or upvote my solution post on Leetcode's forums.

Leetcode Problem #535 (Medium): Encode and Decode TinyURL


(Jump to: Solution Idea || Code: JavaScript | Python | Java | C++)

TinyURL is a URL shortening service where you enter a URL such as and it returns a short URL such as

Design the encode and decode methods for the TinyURL service. There is no restriction on how your encode/decode algorithm should work. You just need to ensure that a URL can be encoded to a tiny URL and the tiny URL can be decoded to the original URL.


(Jump to: Problem Description || Code: JavaScript | Python | Java | C++)

Since the characters we can use in the short url are limited just as much as the characters that can be used to make up the long url, there's not much legitimate compression that can realistically be done.

The only generally feasible option is to use a map to act as a lookup table for codes and either use a hashing function or a random code generator to generate the code. Since we're storing the information anyway (hashes only work one-way), we might as well just use a random code generator (getCode()).

Based on the example, we can create a function that creates a random 6-character code, using the 62 alphanumeric characters. We should make sure to come up with a new code in the rare case that we randomly create a duplicate.

To avoid having to encode the same url twice with different random codes, we can create a reverse lookup table (urlDB) to store already encoded urls.

The decode function will just return the entry from the code map (codeDB).


Python has predefined alphanumeric strings, so we can take advantage of that.

Javascript Code:

(Jump to: Problem Description || Solution Idea)

let codeDB = new Map(), urlDB = new Map()
const chars = "0123456789ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz"

const getCode = () => {
    let code = new Array(6).fill()
        .map(_ => chars.charAt(~~(Math.random() * 62)))
    return "" + code.join("")

const encode = longUrl => {
    if (urlDB.has(longUrl)) return urlDB.get(longUrl)
    let code = getCode()
    while (codeDB.has(code)) code = getCode()
    codeDB.set(code, longUrl)
    urlDB.set(longUrl, code)
    return code

const decode = shortUrl => codeDB.get(shortUrl)
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Python Code:

(Jump to: Problem Description || Solution Idea)

class Codec:
    codeDB, urlDB = defaultdict(), defaultdict()
    chars = string.ascii_letters + string.digits

    def getCode(self) -> str:
        code = ''.join(random.choice(self.chars) for i in range(6))
        return "" + code

    def encode(self, longUrl: str) -> str:
        if longUrl in self.urlDB: return self.urlDB[longUrl]
        code = self.getCode()
        while code in self.codeDB: code = getCode()
        self.codeDB[code] = longUrl
        self.urlDB[longUrl] = code
        return code

    def decode(self, shortUrl: str) -> str:
        return self.codeDB[shortUrl]
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Java Code:

(Jump to: Problem Description || Solution Idea)

public class Codec {
    Map<String, String> codeDB = new HashMap<>(), urlDB = new HashMap<>();
    static final String chars = "0123456789ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz";

    private String getCode() {
        char[] code = new char[6];
        for (int i = 0; i < 6; i++) 
            code[i] = chars.charAt((int)Math.random() * 62);
        return "" + String.valueOf(code);

    public String encode(String longUrl) {
        if (urlDB.containsKey(longUrl)) return urlDB.get(longUrl);
        String code = getCode();
        while (codeDB.containsKey(code)) code = getCode();
        codeDB.put(code, longUrl);
        urlDB.put(longUrl, code);
        return code;

    public String decode(String shortUrl) {
        return codeDB.get(shortUrl);
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C++ Code:

(Jump to: Problem Description || Solution Idea)

class Solution {
    unordered_map<string, string> codeDB, urlDB;
    const string chars = "0123456789ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz";

    string getCode() {
        string code = "";
        for (int i = 0; i < 6; i++) code += chars[rand() % 62];
        return "" + code;

    string encode(string longUrl) {
        if (urlDB.find(longUrl) != urlDB.end()) return urlDB[longUrl];
        string code = getCode();
        while (codeDB.find(code) != codeDB.end()) code = getCode();
        codeDB[code] = longUrl;
        urlDB[longUrl] = code;
        return code;

    string decode(string shortUrl) {
        return codeDB[shortUrl];
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