each_cons

Enumerating Enumerable: Enumerable#each_cons

by Joey deVilla on July 28, 2008

Enumerating Enumerable

Welcome to the ninth installment of Enumerating Enumerable, the series of articles where I attempt to do a better job at documenting Ruby’s Enumerable module than Ruby-Doc.org does.

I’m going through the Enumerable‘s methods in alphabetical order, and we’ve reached the methods that are variations on each In this article, I’m going to cover each_cons, which got introduced in Ruby 1.9.

If you missed any of the earlier articles, I’ve listed them all below:

  1. all?
  2. any?
  3. collect / map
  4. count
  5. cycle
  6. detect / find
  7. drop
  8. drop_while

Enumerable#each_cons Quick Summary

Graphic representation of the \"each_cons\" method in Ruby\'s \"Enumerable\" module

In the simplest possible terms Think of each_cons as an each that takes a number n and spits out n elements at a time.
Ruby version 1.9 only
Expects A number n describing the number of elements to be fed to the block.
Returns
  • nil if used with a block
  • An Enumerator object that outputs n-sized consecutive array slices of the collection if used without a block.
RubyDoc.org’s entry Enumerable#each+cons

Enumerable#each_cons and Arrays

When used on an array and given a block and a number n as an argument, each_cons is like an each that goes through each element in the array and outputs an n-sized array slice of the original array starting at the current element.

each_cons is one of those methods that’s really tough to describe. This is one of those cases where a demonstrating trumps describing…

justice_league = ["Aquaman", "Batman", "Black Canary", \
                  "Flash", "Green Arrow", "Green Lantern", \
                  "Martian Manhunter", "Superman", \
                  "Vixen", "Wonder Woman"]
=> justice_league = ["Aquaman", "Batman", "Black Canary", "Flash", "Green Arrow",
"Green Lantern", "Martian Manhunter", "Superman", "Vixen", "Wonder Woman"]

justice_league.each_cons(3) {|team| p team}
=> ["Aquaman", "Batman", "Black Canary"]
["Batman", "Black Canary", "Flash"]
["Black Canary", "Flash", "Green Arrow"]
["Flash", "Green Arrow", "Green Lantern"]
["Green Arrow", "Green Lantern", "Martian Manhunter"]
["Green Lantern", "Martian Manhunter", "Superman"]
["Martian Manhunter", "Superman", "Vixen"]
["Superman", "Vixen", "Wonder Woman"]
=> nil

Note that in this case, each_cons returns nil.

each_cons can also be used without providing a block. In this case, you’re using it to create an Enumerator object that you can then use to spit out array slices when you call its next method:

# Let's create an enumerator that we can use to give us three-person
# superhero teams
teams_of_3 = justice_league.each_cons(3)
=> #

# Let's get the first team of 3
teams_of_3.next
=> ["Aquaman", "Batman", "Black Canary"]

# Now the next one...
teams_of_3.next
=> ["Batman", "Black Canary", "Flash"]

teams_of_3.next
=> ["Black Canary", "Flash", "Green Arrow"]

teams_of_3.next
=> ["Flash", "Green Arrow", "Green Lantern"]

# Let's go back to the first team of 3
teams_of_3.rewind
=> #

teams_of_3.next
=> ["Aquaman", "Batman", "Black Canary"]

Enumerable#each_cons and Hashes

When used on a hash and given a block and a number n as an argument, each_cons is like an each that goes through each element in the array and outputs an n-sized array slice of the hash starting at the current element. Note that in the process, hash elements are converted into two-element arrays where the first element contains the key and the second element contains the corresponding value.

Again, examples speak louder than descriptions:

enterprise_crew = {:captain => "Picard",
                   :first_officer => "Riker",
                   :science_officer => "Data",
                   :tactical_officer => "Worf",
                   :chief_engineer => "LaForge",
                   :chief_medical_officer => "Crusher",
                   :ships_counselor => "Troi",
                   :annoying_ensign => "Crusher",
                   :attractive_ensign => "Ro",
                   :expendable_crew_member => "Smith"}
=> {:captain=>"Picard", :first_officer=>"Riker", :science_officer=>"Data", :tact
ical_officer=>"Worf", :chief_engineer=>"LaForge", :chief_medical_officer=>"Crush
er", :ships_counselor=>"Troi", :annoying_ensign=>"Crusher", :attractive_ensign=>
"Ro", :expendable_crew_member=>"Smith"}

enterprise_crew.each_cons(3) {|team| p team}
=> [[:captain, "Picard"], [:first_officer, "Riker"], [:science_officer, "Data"]]
[[:first_officer, "Riker"], [:science_officer, "Data"], [:tactical_officer, "Worf"]]
[[:science_officer, "Data"], [:tactical_officer, "Worf"], [:chief_engineer, "LaForge"]]
[[:tactical_officer, "Worf"], [:chief_engineer, "LaForge"], [:chief_medical_officer, "Crusher"]]
[[:chief_engineer, "LaForge"], [:chief_medical_officer, "Crusher"], [:ships_counselor, "Troi"]]
[[:chief_medical_officer, "Crusher"], [:ships_counselor, "Troi"], [:annoying_ensign, "Crusher"]]
[[:ships_counselor, "Troi"], [:annoying_ensign, "Crusher"], [:attractive_ensign, "Ro"]]
[[:annoying_ensign, "Crusher"], [:attractive_ensign, "Ro"], [:expendable_crew_member, "Smith"]]
=> nil

As with arrays, each_cons, when used on a hash, returns nil.

Again, as with arrays, each_cons can also be used without providing a block to create an Enumerator:

# Starfleet has decided to let the ship's computer determine
# the away teams, which are groups of 3
away_teams_of_3 = enterprise_crew.each_cons(3)
=> #

# Okay, who's the first away team?
away_teams_of_3.next
=> [[:captain, "Picard"], [:first_officer, "Riker"], [:science_officer, "Data"]]

# Let's get the next one
away_teams_of_3.next
=> [[:first_officer, "Riker"], [:science_officer, "Data"],
[:tactical_officer, "Worf"]]

away_teams_of_3.next
=> [[:science_officer, "Data"], [:tactical_officer, "Worf"],
[:chief_engineer, "LaForge"]]

# Let's go back to the first away team
away_teams_of_3.rewind
=> #

away_teams_of_3.next
=> [[:captain, "Picard"], [:first_officer, "Riker"], [:science_officer, "Data"]]

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