Repeating a List in Scala

I am a Scala noob. I have decided to write a spider solitaire solver as a first exercise to learn the language and functional programming in general.

I would like to generate a randomly shuffled deck of cards containing 1, 2, or 4 suits. Here is what I came up with:

val numberOfSuits = 1
(List("clubs", "diamonds", "hearts", "spades").take(numberOfSuits) * 4).take(4)

which should return

List("clubs", "clubs", "clubs", "clubs")
List("clubs", "diamonds", "clubs", "diamonds")
List("clubs", "diamonds", "hearts", "spades")

depending on the value of numberOfSuits, except there is no List "multiply" operation that I can find. Did I miss it? Is there a better way to generate the complete deck before shuffling?

BTW, I plan on using an Enumeration for the suits, but it was easier to type my question with strings. I will take the List generated above and using a for comprehension, iterate over the suits and a similar List of card "ranks" to generate a complete deck.


You should look up the scaladoc for the object List. It has all manners of interesting methods for creation of lists. For instance, the following does exactly what you were trying to:

List.flatten(List.make(4, List("clubs", "diamonds", "hearts", "spades").take(numberOfSuits))).take(4)

A much nicer code, however, would be this (Scala 2.7):

val suits = List("clubs", "diamonds", "hearts", "spades")
List.tabulate(4, i => suits.apply(i % numberOfSuits))

On Scala 2.8 tabulate is curried, so the correct syntax would be:

List.tabulate(4)(i => suits.apply(i % numberOfSuits))

Flatten a finite lists of lists:

scala> List.fill(2)(List(1, 2, 3, 4)).flatten
res18: List[Int] = List(1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4)

Flatten an infinite Stream of lists, take the first N elements:

scala> Stream.continually(List(1, 2, 3, 4)).flatten.take(8).toList
res19: List[Int] = List(1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4)

You can expand a numeric sequence and flatMap instead of multiplying.

scala> (1 to 3).flatMap(_=>List(1,2,3,4).take(2)).take(4)
res1: Seq[Int] = List(1, 2, 1, 2)

This works in 2.7.x also.

Edit: since you're less experienced with Scala, you may not yet have come across the pimp-my-library pattern. If you want to multiply your lists a lot, you can add a custom conversion class:

class MultipliableList[T](l: List[T]) {
  def *(n: Int) = (1 to n).flatMap(_=>l).toList
implicit def list2multipliable[T](l: List[T]) = new MultipliableList[T](l)

and now you can

scala> List(1,2,3)*4
res2: List[Int] = List(1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3)

(Generally, to reuse such implicits, declare them in an object and then import MyObject._ to get the implicit conversion and corresponding class in scope.)

If you use cats library, you can make use of Semigroup's method combineN. It repeates a list N times.

import cats.implicits._
import cats.syntax.semigroup._

scala> List("clubs", "diamonds", "hearts", "spades").combineN(2)
res1: List[String] = List(clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades, clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades)

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