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to Binary Search in the Ruby Track

Published at Jul 13 2018 · 0 comments
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This solution was written on an old version of Exercism. The tests below might not correspond to the solution code, and the exercise may have changed since this code was written.

Implement a binary search algorithm.

Searching a sorted collection is a common task. A dictionary is a sorted list of word definitions. Given a word, one can find its definition. A telephone book is a sorted list of people's names, addresses, and telephone numbers. Knowing someone's name allows one to quickly find their telephone number and address.

If the list to be searched contains more than a few items (a dozen, say) a binary search will require far fewer comparisons than a linear search, but it imposes the requirement that the list be sorted.

In computer science, a binary search or half-interval search algorithm finds the position of a specified input value (the search "key") within an array sorted by key value.

In each step, the algorithm compares the search key value with the key value of the middle element of the array.

If the keys match, then a matching element has been found and its index, or position, is returned.

Otherwise, if the search key is less than the middle element's key, then the algorithm repeats its action on the sub-array to the left of the middle element or, if the search key is greater, on the sub-array to the right.

If the remaining array to be searched is empty, then the key cannot be found in the array and a special "not found" indication is returned.

A binary search halves the number of items to check with each iteration, so locating an item (or determining its absence) takes logarithmic time. A binary search is a dichotomic divide and conquer search algorithm.

For installation and learning resources, refer to the exercism help page.

For running the tests provided, you will need the Minitest gem. Open a terminal window and run the following command to install minitest:

gem install minitest

If you would like color output, you can require 'minitest/pride' in the test file, or note the alternative instruction, below, for running the test file.

Run the tests from the exercise directory using the following command:

ruby binary_search_test.rb

To include color from the command line:

ruby -r minitest/pride binary_search_test.rb


Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binary_search_algorithm

Submitting Incomplete Solutions

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


require 'minitest/autorun'
require_relative 'binary_search'

class BinarySearchTest < Minitest::Test
  def test_it_has_list_data
    binary = BinarySearch.new([1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11])
    assert_equal [1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11], binary.list

  def test_it_raises_error_for_unsorted_list
    assert_raises ArgumentError do
      BinarySearch.new([2, 1, 4, 3, 6])

  def test_it_raises_error_for_data_not_in_list
    assert_raises RuntimeError do
      BinarySearch.new([1, 3, 6]).search_for(2)

  def test_it_finds_position_of_middle_item
    binary = BinarySearch.new([1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11])
    assert_equal 3, binary.middle

  def test_it_finds_position_of_search_data
    binary = BinarySearch.new([1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11])
    assert_equal 5, binary.search_for(9)

  def test_it_finds_position_in_a_larger_list
    binary = BinarySearch.new([1, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144])
    assert_equal 1, binary.search_for(3)
    assert_equal 7, binary.search_for(55)

  def test_it_finds_correct_position_in_a_list_with_an_even_number_of_elements
    binary = BinarySearch.new([1, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377])
    assert_equal 5, binary.search_for(21)
    assert_equal 6, binary.search_for(34)
# Performs a Binary Search for a particular int in an array
class BinarySearch
  attr_reader :list
  def initialize(list)
    @list = list
    raise ArgumentError if list != list.sort

  def search_for(val)
    search(val, 0, list.size - 1)

  def middle(left = 0, right = list.size - 1)
    (left + right) / 2


  def search(val, left, right)
    raise RuntimeError if left >= right

    mid = middle(left, right)
    if val < list[mid]
      search(val, left, mid - 1)
    elsif val > list[mid]
      search(val, mid + 1, right)

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