JavaScript Coding Challenge: "Birthday Cake Candles"

A couple of days ago I received and email from HackerRank. They invited me to solve one of their challenges so... That's what we're going to do now!

JCC Birthday Cake Candles Image

You are in charge of the cake for your niece's birthday and have decided the cake will have one candle for each year of her total age. When she blows out the candles, she’ll only be able to blow out the tallest ones. Your task is to find out how many candles she can successfully blow out.

For example, if your niece is turning 4 years old, and the cake will have 4 candles of height 3, 3, 1, 2, she will be able to blow out 2 candles successfully, since the tallest candles are of height 3 and there are such candles.

Function description

Create a function: birthdayCakeCandles. It must return an integer representing the number of candles she can blow out.

birthdayCakeCandles has the following parameter: arr - an array of integers representing candle heights.

As you can see it's pretty simple, but if they challenged me... I have to solve it! emoji-smiley

You can find the challenge on HackerRank.

Note: Before reading forward, I'd recommend that you solve the challenge on your own first. Than you can take a peak πŸ‘€ on my solutions.

First solution - the cleaner way

For this one we're going to do a couple of steps:

  1. create a variable which will store the highest candle height. Let's call this variable: max
  2. (a) loop over the array and (b) increase a counter everytime the current item is equal to max
  3. if the item is higher than max, reset the counter and also set max to be equal to the item
  4. at the end, return the counter

(item is the current candle height from the given arr)

function birthdayCakeCandles(arr) {
    // Step 1
    let max = 0;
    let counter = 0;

    // Step 2 (a)
    arr.forEach(item => {
        // Step 3
        if (item > max) {
            // Step 4
            max = item;
            counter = 1;
            // Step 2 (b)
        } else if (item === max) {

    return counter;

Easy GIF

Second solution - the clever but not optimal way

We could also use some 'tricks' to make it easier to understand the code, without having to use both if and else if statements.

This time let's do the following:

  1. use Math.max + the array spread operator to get the maximum value from the array
  2. use the array's filter method to return an array with only the max values
  3. return the length of this filtered array
function birthdayCakeCandles(arr) {
    let max = Math.max(...arr);
    return arr.filter(item => item === max).length;

It's not the optimal way because are looping twice over the array (int the Max.max and the filter methods).

Third solution - the one-liner

(Or the worst but most satisfying way ❀️)

You might know (or if you don't, ask my friend: jenovs) that I like the reduce function so everytime I can, I love using it, including this time. πŸ˜†

So... for this one, we're going to use a ternary operator twice because one ternary operator can only handle 2 cases at a time. Plug another one in and you can have 3 cases: πŸ‘

  1. item > max
  2. item = max
  3. item < max

Also, the default value of the acc (accumulator) would be an object where we're going to save the two values we need: max and counter.

Other than that we just have to use the 'logic' from the First solution - sort of... emoji-wink

  • If the max is less than the item we save it and reset the counter.
  • Else if the item is equal to the max we increase the counter and we spread the rest of the object (although we only have one prop and we don't have to use the spread operator. We could just re set the max again, but... it's nice to see the three dots syntax 😎 ).
  • Else, just return the object

And at the end, we return the counter prop of the returning object.

const birthdayCakeCandles = arr =>
        (acc, item) =>
            acc.max < item
                ? { max: item, counter: 1 }
                : acc.max === item
                ? { ...acc, counter: ++acc.counter }
                : acc,
        { max: 0, counter: 0 }


That's all we have for now... a simple problem with a simple solution. πŸ˜‰

As always, I had fun coming up with all these solutions. Which one did you like the most?

Maybe you found another solution... I'd like to see it so let me know. You can brag about it! πŸ˜†

Tagged with javascript, challenge, beginner, hackerrank, array, spread, reduce, math, max, object, es6