Greedy Change Making Program in C

Problem Statement

Write a C program to solve ‘Change Making Problem’. Put simply, a solution to Change-Making problem aims to represent a value in fewest coins under a given coin system. This program was requested by one of readers on our Facebook Page.

Coin changing

Inputs to program

  • Number of different denominations available
  • List of numbers representing all the denominations
  • Amount to represent in the given coin system


The program should output a way to represent the given amount using fewest number of coins. For example. if you have coins of value 1, 2, 5 and 10 and want to represent 26, the program should output the correct solution 10×2 5×1 2×0 1×1


The greedy approach is easy to understand and implement as well. We start with using the largest denomination coin/currency possible. Once the owed amount is less than the largest, we move to next largest coin, so on and so forth.


  • Denominations are entered in descending order. That is largest one first. Example: 100, 50, 20, 5, 1. We can add a sort method if it’s not, a minor change.
  • We always have denomination of 1(Just to make sure we have a solution for all the numbers).


Greedy approach works best with Canonical Coin systems and may not produce optimal results in arbitrary coin systems. For example, if denominations are {4, 3, 1}, number 6 is represented as 4×1 3×0 1×2 by this program; taking 3 coins. The correct answer in this case is 4×0 3×2 1×0 with just 2 coins.

The Program

#include <stdio.h>
int main () {
int num_denominations, coin_list[100], use_these[100], i, owed;
printf("Enter number of denominations : ");
scanf("%d", &num_denominations);
printf("\nEnter the denominations in descending order: ");
for(i=0; i< num_denominations; i++) {
scanf("%d", &coin_list[i]);
// use_these[i] = 0;
printf("\nEnter the amount owed : ");
scanf("%d", &owed);
for(i=0; i < num_denominations; i++) {
use_these[i] = owed / coin_list[i];
owed %= coin_list[i];
printf("\nSolution: \n");
for(i=0; i < num_denominations; i++) {
printf("%dx%d ", coin_list[i], use_these[i]);

Sample Output

Further reading

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