Create a function that takes a number as an argument and returns negative of that number. Return negative numbers without any change.

**Examples:**

negative(4) ➞ -4 negative(15) ➞ -15 negative(-4) ➞ -4 negative(0) ➞ 0

You can make use of

`<`

operator with an `if`

statement to check if `n`

is negative.
You can add an

`else`

statement to handle the case when `n`

is positive.
The core challenge of this problem is to ensure that any given number is returned as its negative counterpart. If the number is already negative, it should be returned as is. This problem is significant in various applications where normalization of values is required, such as in mathematical computations, data processing, and algorithm design.

Potential pitfalls include not handling zero correctly or unnecessarily converting already negative numbers.

To solve this problem, we can start with a naive approach and then optimize it:

The naive approach involves checking if the number is positive or zero and then converting it to its negative counterpart. If the number is already negative, we return it as is.

While this approach works, it involves conditional checks that can be optimized.

An optimized approach leverages the mathematical property that multiplying a positive number by -1 will yield its negative counterpart. For negative numbers, multiplying by -1 will yield the same number.

We can use the `Math.abs()`

function to ensure the number is positive and then multiply by -1 to get the negative value.

Here is a step-by-step breakdown of the optimized algorithm:

- Check if the number is greater than 0.
- If true, multiply the number by -1.
- If false, return the number as is.

```
public class ReturnNegative {
// Function to return the negative of a number
public static int negative(int n) {
// Check if the number is positive
if (n > 0) {
// Return the negative of the number
return -n;
}
// Return the number as is if it's already negative or zero
return n;
}
// Main method to test the function
public static void main(String[] args) {
// Test cases
System.out.println(negative(4)); // ➞ -4
System.out.println(negative(15)); // ➞ -15
System.out.println(negative(-4)); // ➞ -4
System.out.println(negative(0)); // ➞ 0
}
}
```

The time complexity of this approach is **O(1)** because it involves a constant number of operations regardless of the input size. The space complexity is also **O(1)** as no additional space is required.

Potential edge cases include:

- Zero: The function should return 0.
- Negative numbers: The function should return the number as is.

These edge cases are handled by the conditional checks in the function.

To test the solution comprehensively, consider the following test cases:

- Positive numbers: Ensure they are converted to their negative counterparts.
- Negative numbers: Ensure they are returned as is.
- Zero: Ensure it is returned as 0.

Using a testing framework like JUnit can help automate and validate these test cases.

When approaching such problems, consider the following tips:

- Understand the problem requirements and constraints.
- Think about edge cases and how to handle them.
- Start with a simple solution and then optimize it.
- Practice similar problems to improve problem-solving skills.

In this blog post, we discussed how to solve the problem of returning the negative of a number in Java. We explored both naive and optimized approaches, provided a detailed algorithm, and implemented the solution with complexity analysis. Understanding and solving such problems is crucial for developing strong problem-solving skills in programming.

For further reading and practice, consider the following resources: