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vduglued's solution

to Robot Name in the Python Track

Published at Apr 17 2020 · 1 comment
Test suite


This exercise has changed since this solution was written.

Manage robot factory settings.

When robots come off the factory floor, they have no name.

The first time you boot them up, a random name is generated in the format of two uppercase letters followed by three digits, such as RX837 or BC811.

Every once in a while we need to reset a robot to its factory settings, which means that their name gets wiped. The next time you ask, it will respond with a new random name.

The names must be random: they should not follow a predictable sequence. Random names means a risk of collisions. Your solution must ensure that every existing robot has a unique name.

Exception messages

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 pytest robot_name_test.py

Alternatively, you can tell Python to run the pytest module: python -m pytest robot_name_test.py

Common pytest options

  • -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

Submitting Exercises

Note that, when trying to submit an exercise, make sure the solution is in the $EXERCISM_WORKSPACE/python/robot-name directory.

You can find your Exercism workspace by running exercism debug and looking for the line that starts with Workspace.

For more detailed information about running tests, code style and linting, please see Running the Tests.


A debugging session with Paul Blackwell at gSchool. http://gschool.it

Submitting Incomplete Solutions

It's possible to submit an incomplete solution so you can see how others have completed the exercise.


import unittest
import random

from robot_name import Robot

class RobotNameTest(unittest.TestCase):
    # assertRegex() alias to adress DeprecationWarning
    # assertRegexpMatches got renamed in version 3.2
    if not hasattr(unittest.TestCase, "assertRegex"):
        assertRegex = unittest.TestCase.assertRegexpMatches

    name_re = r'^[A-Z]{2}\d{3}$'

    def test_has_name(self):
        self.assertRegex(Robot().name, self.name_re)

    def test_name_sticks(self):
        robot = Robot()
        self.assertEqual(robot.name, robot.name)

    def test_different_robots_have_different_names(self):

    def test_reset_name(self):
        # Set a seed
        seed = "Totally random."

        # Initialize RNG using the seed

        # Call the generator
        robot = Robot()
        name = robot.name

        # Reinitialize RNG using seed

        # Call the generator again
        name2 = robot.name
        self.assertNotEqual(name, name2)
        self.assertRegex(name2, self.name_re)

if __name__ == '__main__':
import itertools
import random
import string

class Robot:
    def __init__(self):
        self.names = [
            a + b + str(n).zfill(3)
            for n in range(1000)
            for b, a in itertools.product(string.ascii_uppercase, repeat=2)]

    def reset(self):
        if not self.names:
            raise Exception('All possible names have been used')
        self.name = self.names.pop(random.randint(0,1000))

Community comments

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Avatar of vduglued

In the first iteration, it never occurred to me that calling reset() would become slower, and non-linearly so, eventually approaching an infinite loop when the available names ran out.

The second iteration generates all names in advance and selects one at random, removing it from the list. It makes __init__ a little slower but keeps reset() fast.

The third iteration raises an exception when there are no names left.

What can you learn from this solution?

A huge amount can be learned from reading other people’s code. This is why we wanted to give exercism users the option of making their solutions public.

Here are some questions to help you reflect on this solution and learn the most from it.

  • What compromises have been made?
  • Are there new concepts here that you could read more about to improve your understanding?