Colin Colin - 1 year ago 120
Python Question

A weighted version of random.choice

I needed to write a weighted version of random.choice (each element in the list has a different probability for being selected). This is what I came up with:

def weightedChoice(choices):
"""Like random.choice, but each element can have a different chance of
being selected.

choices can be any iterable containing iterables with two items each.
Technically, they can have more than two items, the rest will just be
ignored. The first item is the thing being chosen, the second item is
its weight. The weights can be any numeric values, what matters is the
relative differences between them.
space = {}
current = 0
for choice, weight in choices:
if weight > 0:
space[current] = choice
current += weight
rand = random.uniform(0, current)
for key in sorted(space.keys() + [current]):
if rand < key:
return choice
choice = space[key]
return None

This function seems overly complex to me, and ugly. I'm hoping everyone here can offer some suggestions on improving it or alternate ways of doing this. Efficiency isn't as important to me as code cleanliness and readability.

Answer Source
def weighted_choice(choices):
   total = sum(w for c, w in choices)
   r = random.uniform(0, total)
   upto = 0
   for c, w in choices:
      if upto + w >= r:
         return c
      upto += w
   assert False, "Shouldn't get here"
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