Drahc - 1 year ago 114
Objective-C Question

# Non repeating random numbers

I'm using

``````for (int i = 1, i<100, i++)
int i = arc4random() % array count;
``````

but I'm getting repeats every time. How can I fill out the chosen
`int`
value from the range, so that when the program loops I will not get any dupe?

It sounds like you want shuffling of a set rather than "true" randomness. Simply create an array where all the positions match the numbers and initialize a counter:

``````num[ 0] =  0
num[ 1] =  1
: :
num[99] = 99
numNums = 100
``````

Then, whenever you want a random number, use the following method:

``````idx = rnd (numNums);       // return value 0 through numNums-1
val = num[idx];            // get then number at that position.
num[idx] = val[numNums-1]; // remove it from pool by overwriting with highest
numNums--;                 //   and removing the highest position from pool.
return val;                // give it back to caller.
``````

This will return a random value from an ever-decreasing pool, guaranteeing no repeats. You will have to beware of the pool running down to zero size of course, and intelligently re-initialize the pool.

This is a more deterministic solution than keeping a list of used numbers and continuing to loop until you find one not in that list. The performance of that sort of algorithm will degrade as the pool gets smaller.

A C function using static values something like this should do the trick. Call it with

``````int i = myRandom (200);
``````

to set the pool up (with any number zero or greater specifying the size) or

``````int i = myRandom (-1);
``````

to get the next number from the pool (any negative number will suffice). If the function can't allocate enough memory, it will return -2. If there's no numbers left in the pool, it will return -1 (at which point you could re-initialize the pool if you wish). Here's the function with a unit testing main for you to try out:

``````#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>

#define ERR_NO_NUM -1
#define ERR_NO_MEM -2

int myRandom (int size) {
int i, n;
static int numNums = 0;
static int *numArr = NULL;

// Initialize with a specific size.

if (size >= 0) {
if (numArr != NULL)
free (numArr);
if ((numArr = malloc (sizeof(int) * size)) == NULL)
return ERR_NO_MEM;
for (i = 0; i  < size; i++)
numArr[i] = i;
numNums = size;
}

// Error if no numbers left in pool.

if (numNums == 0)
return ERR_NO_NUM;

// Get random number from pool and remove it (rnd in this
//   case returns a number between 0 and numNums-1 inclusive).

n = rand() % numNums;
i = numArr[n];
numArr[n] = numArr[numNums-1];
numNums--;
if (numNums == 0) {
free (numArr);
numArr = 0;
}

return i;
}

int main (void) {
int i;

srand (time (NULL));
i = myRandom (20);
while (i >= 0) {
printf ("Number = %3d\n", i);
i = myRandom (-1);
}
printf ("Final  = %3d\n", i);
return 0;
}
``````

And here's the output from one run:

``````Number =  19
Number =  10
Number =   2
Number =  15
Number =   0
Number =   6
Number =   1
Number =   3
Number =  17
Number =  14
Number =  12
Number =  18
Number =   4
Number =   9
Number =   7
Number =   8
Number =  16
Number =   5
Number =  11
Number =  13
Final  =  -1
``````

Keep in mind that, because it uses statics, it's not safe for calling from two different places if they want to maintain their own separate pools. If that were the case, the statics would be replaced with a buffer (holding count and pool) that would "belong" to the caller (a double-pointer could be passed in for this purpose).

And, if you're looking for the "multiple pool" version, I include it here for completeness.

``````#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>

#define ERR_NO_NUM -1
#define ERR_NO_MEM -2

int myRandom (int size, int *ppPool[]) {
int i, n;

// Initialize with a specific size.

if (size >= 0) {
if (*ppPool != NULL)
free (*ppPool);
if ((*ppPool = malloc (sizeof(int) * (size + 1))) == NULL)
return ERR_NO_MEM;
(*ppPool)[0] = size;
for (i = 0; i  < size; i++) {
(*ppPool)[i+1] = i;
}
}

// Error if no numbers left in pool.

if (*ppPool == NULL)
return ERR_NO_NUM;

// Get random number from pool and remove it (rnd in this
//   case returns a number between 0 and numNums-1 inclusive).

n = rand() % (*ppPool)[0];
i = (*ppPool)[n+1];
(*ppPool)[n+1] = (*ppPool)[(*ppPool)[0]];
(*ppPool)[0]--;
if ((*ppPool)[0] == 0) {
free (*ppPool);
*ppPool = NULL;
}

return i;
}

int main (void) {
int i;
int *pPool;

srand (time (NULL));
pPool = NULL;
i = myRandom (20, &pPool);
while (i >= 0) {
printf ("Number = %3d\n", i);
i = myRandom (-1, &pPool);
}
printf ("Final  = %3d\n", i);
return 0;
}
``````

As you can see from the modified `main()`, you need to first initialise an `int` pointer to `NULL` then pass its address to the `myRandom()` function. This allows each client (location in the code) to have their own pool which is automatically allocated and freed, although you could still share pools if you wish.

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