Just a Theory

By David E. Wheeler

Posts about grep

Stepped Series of Numbers in Perl

In working on a Perl validation function for GTINs (recipe here), I found a need to generate a series of numbers with a step of two. For example, I in the series 1-10, I first want 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9. And then later I want 2, 4, 6, 8, 10. Here’s how I went about creating those series in my GTIN function to create hash slices:

sub isa_gtin {
    my @nums = reverse split q{}, shift;
        sum( @nums[ grep {   $_ % 2  } 0..$#nums ] ) * 3
        + sum( @nums[ grep { !($_ % 2) } 0..$#nums ] )
    ) % 10 == 0;

But it seems wasteful to generate the series of numbers twice and to calculate whether they’re odd or even twice. Surely there’s a more efficient way to do this in Perl, perhaps even more expressive? Python seems to have a useful syntax for creating array slices that step. In Python, I’d do something like this:

sum( nums[1:10:2] ) * 3 + sum( nums[2:10:2])

But barring such a slice feature in Perl is there some cleaner way than the ugly grep approach I created to generate a stepped series in Perl?

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Efficient Closest Word Algorithm

“Perl Best Practices” cover

I’ve been reading Perl Best Practices and have been making use of List::Util and List::MoreUtils as a result. I’m amazed that I never knew about these modules before. I mean, I kinda knew there were there, but hadn’t paid much attention before or bothered to find out how useful they are!

Anyway, a problem I’m currently working on is finding a word in a list of words that’s the closest match to another word. Text::Levenshtein appears to be a good method to determine relative closeness, but try as I might, I couldn’t make it work using first or min or apply or any of the utility list methods. I finally settled on this subroutine:

use Text::LevenshteinXS qw(distance);
sub _find_closest_word {
    my ($word, $closest) = (shift, shift);
    my $score = distance($word, $closest);
    for my $try_word (@_) {
        my $new_score = distance($word, $try_word);
        ($closest, $score) = ($try_word, $new_score)
            if $new_score < $score;
    return $closest;

Am I missing something, or is this really the most obvious and efficient way to do it?

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