Introduction to Merge Intervals

Let’s go over the Merge Intervals pattern, its real-world applications, and some problems we can solve with it.

About the pattern

The merge intervals pattern deals with problems involving overlapping intervals. Each interval is represented by a start and an end time. For example, an interval of [10,20][10, 20] seconds means that the interval starts at 1010 seconds and ends at 2020 seconds. This pattern involves tasks such as merging intersecting intervals, inserting new intervals into existing sets, or determining the minimum number of intervals needed to cover a given range. The most common problems solved using this pattern are event scheduling, resource allocation, and time slot consolidation.

The key to understanding this pattern and exploiting its power lies in understanding how any two intervals may overlap. The illustration below shows different ways in which two intervals can relate to each other:

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