## Friday, March 16, 2018

### Fisher-Yates Shuffle in Scala

Target audience: Intermediate

This post describes the Fisher-Yates algorithm to shuffle randomly a sequence of objects.

Overview
The generation of a sequence of randomly ordered elements from an existing sequence is a common problem. How can you be sure if the new sequence of items is actually randomly generated?
The Fisher-Yates shuffle algorithm (a.k.a. Donald Knuth shuffle) produces unbiased permutations with a similar likelihood.
One important benefit of Fisher-Yates is the ability to shuffle the elements of the sequence, in place.

Note:
There are several interpretations of the shuffling algorithm. This post describes the implementation of the most common Fisher-Yates algorithm

Fisher-Yates
Here is the Fisher-Yates in a nutshell;Let's consider an array arr of n elements
For each array index k from n-1 to 1
Select a random value m  between k and 0
Swap arr[r] and arr[k]
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 def fisherYates[T](t: Seq[T]): Seq[T] = { setSeed(System.currentTimeMillis) (0 until t.size).foreach (n => { val randomIdx = n + nextInt(t.size-n) val tmp = t(randomIdx) t.update(randomIdx, t(n)) t(n) = tmp }) t } 

The Fisher-Yates algorithm executes as an iteration with the following two steps:
• Select a random item in the remaining sequence< (line 6)/li>
• Swap the randomly selected item with the current item (lines 8,9)

Fast Fisher-Yates implementation
The performance of the Fisher-Yates algorithm can be improved by implementing the swapping of the randomly selected item with the current time in-place using bit manipulation operators.

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 def fisherYates2(seq: mutable.Seq[Int]): IndexedSeq[Int] = { require(seq.size > 0, "Undefined argument") setSeed(System.currentTimeMillis) (0 until seq.size).map(i => { var randomIdx: Int = i + nextInt(seq.size-i) seq(randomIdx) ^= seq(i) seq(i) = seq(randomIdx) ^ seq(i) seq(randomIdx) ^= (seq(i)) seq(i) }) } 

The following code snippet tests the two implementations of the Fisher-Yates shuffling algorithm.
  val input = Array[Char](
'a', 't', '4', '&', '9', '2', 'z', 'y', 'r', '8', '*', '?'
)
println(fisherYates[Char](input).mkString(","))
// t,&,*,2,a,r,4,z,?,y,8,9

println(fisherYates2(Array.tabulate(34)(n => n)).mkString(","))
// 9,24,11,29,1,31,28,20,6,18,23,0,13,17,22,0,27,
// 4,16,7,25,14,30,32,5,12,8,19,21,0,0,33,26,0

Note:
Scala standard library provides developers with a shuffling method: Random.shuffle.

References