Joe Blow Joe Blow - 18 days ago 6
Swift Question

Is there any difference at all between suffix(from:) and dropFirst(_:)?

It just occurred to me that when working with subsequences in Swift,

func suffix(from: Int)
seems to be identical to just
dropFirst(_:)
(Obviously, you just change the input value from say "3" to "7" in the case of an array of length "10".)

Just to repeat that. So: of course, for an array of say length ten. What I mean is
func suffix(from: Int)
with "2" would be the same as
dropFirst(_:)
with "8"
, for example.

Similarly
upTo
/
through
seem to be identical to
dropLast(_:)


Other than convenience is there any difference at all?

(Perhaps in error conditions, performance, or?)

I was wondering whether, in fact, inside Swift one or the other is just implemented by calling the other?

Answer

They are completely different.

  • suffix(from:)

  • dropFirst(_:)

    • Defined by the Sequence protocol.
    • Returns a SubSequence with a given maximum number of elements removed from the head of the sequence.
    • Has a documented time complexity of O(n)*. Although its default implementation actually has a time complexity of O(1), this just postpones the O(n) walk through the dropped elements until iteration.
    • Returns an empty subsequence if the number you input is greater than the sequence's length.

*As with all protocol requirement documented time complexities, it's possible for the conforming type to have an implementation with a lower time complexity. For example, a RandomAccessCollection's dropFirst(_:) method will run in O(1) time.


However, when it comes to Array, these methods just happen to behave identically (except for the handling of out of range inputs).

This is because Array has an Index of type Int that starts from 0 and sequentially counts up to array.count - 1, therefore meaning that a subsequence with the first n elements dropped is the same subsequence that starts from the index n.

Also because Array is a RandomAccessCollection, both methods will run in O(1) time.

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