Today I Learned

A Hashrocket project

Weighted Shuffle in Elixir

Shuffling a list is easy, but what if you want to perform a weighted shuffle? That is, what if some elements in a list had a greater chance of being selected, or higher in the list, than others?

Given these colors and these weights:

weighted_colors = [{1, "orange"}, {3, "green"}, {5, "red"}]

I can create a list that is mostly represents each item the number of times of it’s weight by utilizing List.duplicate:

weighted_colors
|> Enum.map(fn ({weight, color}) -> 
  List.duplicate(color, weight)
end)
|> Enum.flatten
# ["orange", "green", "green", "green", "red", "red", "red", "red", "red"]

Then shuffle it:

|> Enum.shuffle
# ["red", "red", "orange", "red", "green", "green", "red", "green", "red"]

And then use Enum.uniq attribute of preserving the order in which it encounters each unique element from left to right.

|> Enum.uniq
# ["red", "orange", "green"]

Run this 100 times over the same weighted list and the most outcome that you would experience most often is:

# ["red", "green", "orange"]
Looking for help? Elixir is quickly gaining momentum for web applications that need concurrency, performance, and the ability to connect to many different clients. The developers at Hashrocket are learning along with the rest of the development community that Elixir and Phoenix are viable Rails alternatives for the right application. Check out the source code for Today I Learned, written in Elixir, and contact us if you need help with your Elixir project.