FAQ 4.48 How do I shuffle an array randomly?


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This is an excerpt from the latest version perlfaq4.pod, which
comes with the standard Perl distribution. These postings aim to
reduce the number of repeated questions as well as allow the community
to review and update the answers. The latest version of the complete
perlfaq is at http://faq.perl.org .

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4.48: How do I shuffle an array randomly?

If you either have Perl 5.8.0 or later installed, or if you have
Scalar-List-Utils 1.03 or later installed, you can say:

use List::Util 'shuffle';

@shuffled = shuffle(@list);

If not, you can use a Fisher-Yates shuffle.

sub fisher_yates_shuffle {
my $deck = shift; # $deck is a reference to an array
return unless @$deck; # must not be empty!

my $i = @$deck;
while (--$i) {
my $j = int rand ($i+1);
@$deck[$i,$j] = @$deck[$j,$i];
}
}

# shuffle my mpeg collection
#
my @mpeg = <audio/*/*.mp3>;
fisher_yates_shuffle( \@mpeg ); # randomize @mpeg in place
print @mpeg;

Note that the above implementation shuffles an array in place, unlike
the "List::Util::shuffle()" which takes a list and returns a new
shuffled list.

You've probably seen shuffling algorithms that work using splice,
randomly picking another element to swap the current element with

srand;
@new = ();
@old = 1 .. 10; # just a demo
while (@old) {
push(@new, splice(@old, rand @old, 1));
}

This is bad because splice is already O(N), and since you do it N times,
you just invented a quadratic algorithm; that is, O(N**2). This does not
scale, although Perl is so efficient that you probably won't notice this
until you have rather largish arrays.



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