Java – How to increment a java String through all the possibilities


I need to increment a String in java from "aaaaaaaa" to "aaaaaab" to "aaaaaac" up through the alphabet, then eventually to "aaaaaaba" to "aaaaaabb" etc. etc.

Is there a trick for this?

Best Answer

You're basically implementing a Base 26 number system with leading "zeroes" ("a").

You do it the same way you convert a int to a base-2 or base-10 String, but instead of using 2 or 10, you use 26 and instead of '0' as your base, you use 'a'.

In Java you can easily use this:

public static String base26(int num) {
  if (num < 0) {
    throw new IllegalArgumentException("Only positive numbers are supported");
  StringBuilder s = new StringBuilder("aaaaaaa");
  for (int pos = 6; pos >= 0 && num > 0 ; pos--) {
    char digit = (char) ('a' + num % 26);
    s.setCharAt(pos, digit);
    num = num / 26;
  return s.toString();

The basic idea then is to not store the String, but just some counter (int an int or a long, depending on your requirements) and to convert it to the String as needed. This way you can easily increase/decrease/modify your counter without having to parse and re-create the String.