Circular Buffer in Python
A data structure that uses a single, fixed-size buffer as if it were connected end-to-end.
exercism fetch python circular-buffer
A circular buffer, cyclic buffer or ring buffer is a data structure that uses a single, fixed-size buffer as if it were connected end-to-end.
A circular buffer first starts empty and of some predefined length. For example, this is a 7-element buffer:
[ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]
Assume that a 1 is written into the middle of the buffer (exact starting location does not matter in a circular buffer):
[ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]
Then assume that two more elements are added — 2 & 3 — which get appended after the 1:
[ ][ ][ ][ ]
If two elements are then removed from the buffer, the oldest values inside the buffer are removed. The two elements removed, in this case, are 1 & 2, leaving the buffer with just a 3:
[ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]
If the buffer has 7 elements then it is completely full:
When the buffer is full an error will be raised, alerting the client that further writes are blocked until a slot becomes free.
When the buffer is full, the client can opt to overwrite the oldest data with a forced write. In this case, two more elements — A & B — are added and they overwrite the 3 & 4:
3 & 4 have been replaced by A & B making 5 now the oldest data in the buffer. Finally, if two elements are removed then what would be returned is 5 & 6 yielding the buffer:
[ ][A][B][ ]
Because there is space available, if the client again uses overwrite to store C & D then the space where 5 & 6 were stored previously will be used not the location of 7 & 8. 7 is still the oldest element and the buffer is once again full.
Sometimes it is necessary to raise an exception. When you do this, you should include a meaningful error message to indicate what the source of the error is. This makes your code more readable and helps significantly with debugging. Not every exercise will require you to raise an exception, but for those that do, the tests will only pass if you include a message.
To raise a message with an exception, just write it as an argument to the exception type. For example, instead of
raise Exception, you should write:
raise Exception("Meaningful message indicating the source of the error")
Running the tests
To run the tests, run the appropriate command below (why they are different):
- Python 2.7:
- Python 3.3+:
Alternatively, you can tell Python to run the pytest module (allowing the same command to be used regardless of Python version):
python -m pytest circular_buffer_test.py
-v: enable verbose output
-x: stop running tests on first failure
--ff: run failures from previous test before running other test cases
For other options, see
python -m pytest -h
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Submitting Incomplete Solutions
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