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A functional Fizzbuzz

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After reading Scott Wlashin’s post ( on writing FizzBuzz in a more functional style and with the ability to have more rules (other than 3 => fizz, 5 => buzz, etc) I decided to give it a go myself. This represents the most idiomatic F# I could come up with, and I think it reads pretty well. It uses partial application, list operations, shorthand match-expressions-as-functions and option types.

let carbonate rules i =    
    |> List.choose (fun (divisor, replacement) ->
        if i % divisor = 0 then Some replacement else None)
    |> function [] -> string i | list -> String.concat "" list
let carbonateAll rules = (carbonate rules)
let fizzbuzzbazz = carbonateAll [3, "fizz"; 5, "buzz"; 7, "bazz"]

fizzbuzzbazz [100..110] |> printfn "%A"

See if you can follow how it works.

Converting decimal integers to binary strings in different languages

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This is a fun post, telling the tale of a simple programming challenge taken in a number of different languages to learn those languages. The challenge is simple: write a function that, given an integer input, will return the binary representation of that number. To start you can assume that the number you have been given is positive, but you can handle negative numbers for extra credit.

Let’s start with C#:

public static string IntToBinary(int i)
	var resultBuilder = new StringBuilder();
		var bit = i % 2;
		resultBuilder.Insert(0, bit.ToString());
		i = i / 2;
	while (i > 0);
	return resultBuilder.ToString();

As you can see, this is a very procedural way of thinking. It’s got a StringBuilder, a conventional loop… Not that pretty. We can do this much more succinctly, but it illustrates the basic procedure for converting a number to binary. You can find the final (right-most) bit of the binary representation by modding the number by 2. To find the right-most-but-one bit, you divide the number by 2 (discarding any result) and then mod the result by 2. Continue until you eventually end up with zero.

Let’s switch language. How about something more functional, like F#?

let rec intToBinary i =
	match i with
	| 0 | 1 -> string i
	| _ ->
		let bit = string (i % 2)
		(intToBinary (i / 2)) + bit

This looks better! What’s different here? First of all we have changed the function to a recursive one.

What about a language like CoffeeScript or, even better, Livescript?

int-to-binary = (i) ->
| i in [0, 1] => i
| _ => "#{int-to-binary i .>>. 1}#{i % 2}"

As usual Livescript produces the shortest code.

Var: Possibly the most contraversial language feature ever?

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I’ve been prompted to write this post after it cropped up in my office recently, and I was reminded of a job interview I had a couple of years ago. I’ve also seen some discussions online, and wow, some people hate var. I mean really, really hate it. I even saw one guy in a post saying that if he saw a job applicant using var in an interview he would instantly refuse to hire the guy.

Now, I understand the points that the opponents of var are making, but I don’t agree. I accept that in the case of:

var data = GetData();

we can’t tell what type “data” is, but this is one of the few examples where this is the case. You might also argue that the method “GetData” has been atrociously named (okay, no arguing, it has been atrociously named), but following most programming rules I’d expect that method to return an object of type “Data”. In this example that’s probably not the case, but it does highlight my point, that this:

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The Eight Queens problem

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My colleague recently introduced me to the eight queens problem (you can read more about it over at Wikipedia). In summary, you have to be able to place eight queens down on a chess board without any of them attacking any other.

This sounds easy at first, but I found that taking a few guesses on a piece of paper yielded no results. Rather than simply solving the problem, I decided it would be more fun to write a program that would find all the solutions for me. I’d been looking for a nice little programming problem to teach myself F# for a while, so I thought I’d give this a go. Well, after a few false starts and a lot of F# Googling, here’s my solution:

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