nikhil nikhil - 3 months ago 15
Ruby Question

Iterate over an infinite sequence in Ruby

I am trying to solve Project Euler problem #12:


The sequence of triangle numbers is generated by adding the natural
numbers. So the 7th triangle number
would be 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 =
28. The first ten terms would be:

1, 3, 6, 10, 15, 21, 28, 36, 45, 55, ...


Let us list the factors of the first seven triangle numbers:

1: 1
3: 1,3
6: 1,2,3,6
10: 1,2,5,10
15: 1,3,5,15
21: 1,3,7,21
28: 1,2,4,7,14,28


We can see that 28 is the first triangle number to have over five
divisors.
What is the value of the first triangle number to have over five
hundred divisors?


Here's the solution that I came up with using Ruby:

triangle_number = 1
(2..9_999_999_999_999_999).each do |i|
triangle_number += i
num_divisors = 2 # 1 and the number divide the number always so we don't iterate over the entire sequence
(2..( i/2 + 1 )).each do |j|
num_divisors += 1 if i % j == 0
end
if num_divisors == 500 then
puts i
break
end
end


I shouldn't be using an arbitrary huge number like 9_999_999_999_999_999. It would be better if we had a Math.INFINITY sequence like some functional languages. How can I generate a lazy infinite sequence in Ruby?

Answer

In Ruby >= 1.9, you can create an Enumerator object that yields whatever sequence you like. Here's one that yields an infinite sequence of integers:

#!/usr/bin/ruby1.9

sequence = Enumerator.new do |yielder|
  number = 0
  loop do
    number += 1
    yielder.yield number
  end
end

5.times do
  puts sequence.next
end

# => 1
# => 2
# => 3
# => 4
# => 5

Or:

sequence.each do |i|
  puts i
  break if i >= 5
end

Programming Ruby 1.9 (aka "The Pickaxe Book"), 3rd. ed., p. 83, has an example of an Enumerator for triangular numbers. It should be easy to modify the Enumerator above to generate triangular numbers. I'd do it here, but that would reproduce the example verbatim, probably more than "fair use" allows.