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Re^2: Efficiently selecting a random, weighted element

by jimt (Chaplain)
on Oct 15, 2006 at 12:41 UTC ( #578377=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Re: Efficiently selecting a random, weighted element
in thread Efficiently selecting a random, weighted element

I like this approach, but I'll need to think it over. I may even get off my butt and write some code to actually benchmark it.

My concern is that the chances of collisions vary not only with the number of files, but how they're waited. To use a contrived example, say we are picking 2 out of 300 files, but 1 of those files is weighted to contain 98% of the hitspace? You'll probably pick that the first time, and then re-pick it quite a bit until you actually successfully get something else.

But for general use, this could definitely be an improvement. Maybe a hybrid approach - pick a file, and if it contains below a certain percentage of the hitspace, then just leave it alone and continue. If it is above a certain percentage, then splice it out (keeping in mind that you'd need to re-calculate previously saved indexes. If you keep index 4 flagged as one to skip over, and then you remove index 3, you need to change your flag to ignore index 3 instead of index 4, and so on).

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Re^3: Efficiently selecting a random, weighted element
by xdg (Monsignor) on Oct 15, 2006 at 13:23 UTC

    Like almost any algorithm, it all depends on the exact nature of the problem space.

    One refinement, if you really want to consider splicing out high-weight elements, is to create your array in sorted order so that all your highest weight files are at the end of the array. That will decrease the amount of recalculation necessary if you choose to drop them.

    In the extreme case, if the highest weight word is chosen, you just pop the last element of the array and decrease the word count and you're done. If the second highest weight word is chosen, you splice out that word and have only one index to recalculate. Etc.


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