I really like this problem. So far, this is the one I had to think about most. Mostly because the straight-forward recursive implementation is simply not feasible for longer inputs.
Go back to school!
Shameless code... now i'll do that in right way.
The simplest solution for beginner, now I'm trying to solve in a correct way
Apparently the test suite needs to be augmented!
Done. People never get tired of look-up tables.
Indeed: all of the current supposedly 'top ten' submissions here (by Cody-size) are hard-coded hacks! The Test Suite can be augmented by: (i) adding more arbitrary test cases; (ii) adding test cases in which the first [and last] characters/words are the same as in some other test case(s); (iii) banning mention of numbers that correspond to results and need not be mentioned in legitimate submissions (e.g. 18, 25, 27) [as implemented for Problem 44466]; and (iv) potentially banning other key words appearing in other 'generic' hacks (per Solutions 312146 and 1039520). —DIV
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