Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Having fun with Ordering in Scala

Challenge: sort a list of objects by name, but some names have priority. If these names appear, they should be ordered by the position they have in the priority list.

For example:

val priorityList = Seq("Willow", "James", "Ezra") val input = Seq("Olivier", "Charlotte", "Willow", "Declan", "Aurora", "Ezra") val ordered = ??? assert(ordered == Seq("Willow", "Ezra", "Aurora", "Charlotte", "Declan", "Olivier"))

Challenge accepted.

Luckily Scala has strong support for sorting in the standard library. All sequences have a sorted method which accepts an Ordering. The ordering is an implicit parameter which means that normally we don't need to provide it; it will be derived to the natural ordering of the items. However, we are going to provide this parameter explicitly. Let's build an Ordering!

The challenge explains we have 2 orderings:

  1. first order by the priority list
  2. failing that, order by alphabet

Let's focus on the first ordering. The idea is to assign an integer 'priority-value' to each possible string that is based on the position in the priority list. If the string is not in the list, we use some high integer. The first ordering will simply order by this priority-value. Lower numbers go before higher number, just like the natural ordering of integers.

// attempt 1 val priorityValue = priorityList.indexOf(name)

This works well for any name on the priority list. E.g. Willow gets 0 and Ezra gets 2. Unfortunately, all the other names get priority value -1 which orders them even before Willow. We need to convert the -1 to something higher.
Since I like to program without if statements whenever possible, I looked at math for a solution. Modulus can do the trick:

// attempt 2 val priorityValue = priorityList.indexOf(name) % priorityList.size

Oops, wrong modulus implementation: -1 % 3 == -1. Let's use floorMod:

// attempt 3 val priorityValue = Math.floorMod(priorityList.indexOf(name), priorityList.size)

Now -1 gets converted into priorityList.size which is definitely higher than the other priority-values. However, since we don't really care what the higher number is we can just use Int.MaxValue:

val priorityValue = Math.floorMod(priorityList.indexOf(name), Int.MaxValue)

Now we wrap that in an Ordering:

val priorityOrdering: Ordering[String] = => Math.floorMod(priorityList.indexOf(name), Int.MaxValue))

Unfortunately Scala can't derive the type. We either need to type the value directly, or add a type on the name parameter.

Now we need to add the second ordering. We can simply use Ordering.String from the library. We combine the orderings with orElse, available since Scala 2.13. The second ordering is used when priorityOrdering can't decide because the priority-value is the same.
Note that for the special case where we compare a priority value with itself, e.g. Willow with Willow, the second ordering is also applied. This is okay though, the outcome doesn't change because these values are the same for the alphabetic ordering also.

Here is the complete code:

val priorityList = Seq("Willow", "James", "Ezra") val priorityOrdering: Ordering[String] = => Math.floorMod(priorityList.indexOf(name), Int.MaxValue)) val combinedOrdering: Ordering[String] = priorityOrdering.orElse(Ordering.String) val input = Seq("Olivier", "Charlotte", "Willow", "Declan", "Aurora", "Ezra") val ordered = input.sorted(combinedOrdering) assert(ordered == Seq("Willow", "Ezra", "Aurora", "Charlotte", "Declan", "Olivier"))

We're almost there. The challenge was to work on any object. Lets wrap it up a bit and also make it work for any type of priority value:

def priorityOrdering[A, B : Ordering](priorityList: Seq[B], by: A => B): Ordering[A] = { def priorityValue(b: B): Int = Math.floorMod(priorityList.indexOf(b), Int.MaxValue)[A, Int](a => priorityValue(by(a))).orElseBy(by) }

We can use like this:

val ordered = input.sorted(priorityOrdering[String, String](priorityList, identity))

Or like this. Here we sort persons by birthdate, ordering today before the other days:

case class Person(name: String, birthdate: MonthDay) val persons: Seq[Person] = ??? val priorityDates = Seq( persons.sorted(priorityOrdering(priorityDates, (_: Person).birthdate))

Some remarks

Note that in all these cases type derivation is quite awful. The compiler has problems finding the correct types, even though all the information is available.

You should also know that you can't use this approach if you are stuck on Scala 2.12 or earlier since Ordering.orElse is not available there.


You can side-step all the type derivation problems by using the sortBy method. Give it a function that returns a tuple of Ints, Strings, or anything for which an Ordering is already defined. The sequence is then sorted on the first value of the tuple, then on the second value, etc.:

def priorityValue(name: String): Int = Math.floorMod(priorityList.indexOf(name), Int.MaxValue) val ordered = input.sortBy(name => (priorityValue(name), name))


Although I had fun learning all about Ordering, next time I'll avoid it and go directly for sortBy.

Monday, January 10, 2022

From Adoptopenjdk to Temurin on a Mac using Homebrew

Adoptopenjdk joined the Eclipse foundation and renamed their JDK to Temurin. Here are instructions on how to migrate on Macs with Homebrew.

The following instructions removes Adoptopenjdk JDKs you may still have:

brew remove adoptopenjdk/openjdk/adoptopenjdk8 brew remove adoptopenjdk/openjdk/adoptopenjdk11 brew untap AdoptOpenJDK/openjdk brew remove adoptopenjdk8 brew remove adoptopenjdk11 brew remove adoptopenjdk

Use /usr/libexec/java_home -V to get an overview of any other JDK you may still have. Just delete what you don't need any more.

Then install Temurin 8, 11 and 17. The first command (brew tap …) is only needed in case you need Temurin 8 or 11:

brew tap homebrew/cask-versions brew install --cask temurin8 brew install --cask temurin11 brew install --cask temurin

Bonus: execute the following to define aliases that let you easily switch between Java versions:

cat <<-EOF >> ~/.zshrc # Aliases for switching java version alias java17="export JAVA_HOME=\$(/usr/libexec/java_home -v 17)" alias java11="export JAVA_HOME=\$(/usr/libexec/java_home -v 11)" alias java8="export JAVA_HOME=\$(/usr/libexec/java_home -v 1.8)" java11 EOF

Are you looking for more power? For example you need to test for many more JDKs? Then maybe Sdkman is something for you.