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I am attempting to translate some of my Perl code to Ruby, from http://rosettacode.org/wiki/Welch%27s_t-test

I am a very very beginner with Ruby, but I have verified that this is producing the correct answers. Is this "idiomatic" Ruby code? how is this with regard to best practices?

 def calculate_Pvalue (array1, array2)
  if array1.size <= 1
    return 1.0
  end
  if array2.size <= 1
    return 1.0
  end
  mean1 = array1.sum / array1.size
  mean2 = array2.sum / array2.size
  if mean1 == mean2
    return 1.0
  end
  variance1 = 0.0
  variance2 = 0.0
  array1.each do |x|
    variance1 += (mean1 - x)**2
  end
  array2.each do |x|
    variance2 += (mean2 - x)**2
  end
  if variance1 == 0.0 && variance2 == 0.0
    return 1.0
  end
  variance1 = variance1 / (array1.size - 1)
  variance2 = variance2 / (array2.size - 1)
  welch_t_statistic = (mean1 - mean2) / Math.sqrt(variance1 / array1.size + variance2/array2.size)
  degrees_of_freedom = ((variance1/array1.size+variance2/array2.size)**2)   /   (
    (variance1*variance1)/(array1.size*array1.size*(array1.size-1))+
    (variance2*variance2)/(array2.size*array2.size*(array2.size-1)));
  a = degrees_of_freedom / 2
  value = degrees_of_freedom / (welch_t_statistic**2 + degrees_of_freedom)
  beta = Math.lgamma(a)[0] + 0.57236494292470009 - Math.lgamma(a + 0.5)[0]
  acu = 10**(-15)
  if a <= 0
    return value
  end
  if value < 0.0 || 1.0 < value
    return value
  end
  if value == 0 or value == 1.0
    return value
  end
  psq = a + 0.5
  cx = 1.0 - value
  if a < psq * value
    xx = cx
    cx = value
    pp = 0.5
    qq = a
    indx = 1
    else
    xx = value
    pp = a
    qq = 0.5
    indx = 0
    end
    term = 1.0;
    ai = 1.0;
    value = 1.0;
    ns = (qq + cx * psq).to_i;
  #Soper reduction formula
  rx = xx / cx
  temp = qq - ai
  while 1
    term = term * temp * rx / ( pp + ai );
        value = value + term;
        temp = term.abs;
        if temp <= acu && temp <= acu * value
      #p "pp = #{pp}"
      #p "xx = #{xx}"
      #p "qq = #{qq}"
      #p "cx = #{cx}"
      #p "beta = #{beta}"
        value = value * Math.exp(pp * Math.log(xx) + (qq - 1.0) * Math.log(cx) - beta) / pp;
      #p "value = #{value}"
      value = 1.0 - value if indx
      if indx == 0
        value = 1.0 - value
      end
        break
        end
        ai = ai + 1.0
        ns = ns - 1
    #p "ai = #{ai}"
    #p "ns = #{ns}"
        if 0 <= ns
            temp = qq - ai
            rx = xx if ns == 0
        else
            temp = psq
            psq = psq + 1.0
        end
    end
    return value
end

d1 = [27.5,21.0,19.0,23.6,17.0,17.9,16.9,20.1,21.9,22.6,23.1,19.6,19.0,21.7,21.4]
d2 = [27.1,22.0,20.8,23.4,23.4,23.5,25.8,22.0,24.8,20.2,21.9,22.1,22.9,20.5,24.4]
d3 = [17.2,20.9,22.6,18.1,21.7,21.4,23.5,24.2,14.7,21.8]
d4 = [21.5,22.8,21.0,23.0,21.6,23.6,22.5,20.7,23.4,21.8,20.7,21.7,21.5,22.5,23.6,21.5,22.5,23.5,21.5,21.8]
d5 = [19.8,20.4,19.6,17.8,18.5,18.9,18.3,18.9,19.5,22.0]
d6 = [28.2,26.6,20.1,23.3,25.2,22.1,17.7,27.6,20.6,13.7,23.2,17.5,20.6,18.0,23.9,21.6,24.3,20.4,24.0,13.2]
d7 = [30.02,29.99,30.11,29.97,30.01,29.99]
d8 = [29.89,29.93,29.72,29.98,30.02,29.98]
x = [3.0,4.0,1.0,2.1]
y = [490.2,340.0,433.9]
s1 = [1.0/15,10.0/62.0]
s2 = [1.0/10,2/50.0]
v1 = [0.010268,0.000167,0.000167]
v2 = [0.159258,0.136278,0.122389]
z1 = [9/23.0,21/45.0,0/38.0]
z2 = [0/44.0,42/94.0,0/22.0]

CORRECT_ANSWERS = [0.021378001462867, 0.148841696605327, 0.0359722710297968,
0.090773324285671, 0.0107515611497845, 0.00339907162713746, 0.52726574965384, 0.545266866977794]

pvalue = calculate_Pvalue(d1,d2)
error = (pvalue - CORRECT_ANSWERS[0]).abs
printf("Test sets 1 p-value = %.14g\n",pvalue)

pvalue = calculate_Pvalue(d3,d4)
error += (pvalue - CORRECT_ANSWERS[1]).abs
printf("Test sets 2 p-value = %.14g\n",pvalue)

pvalue = calculate_Pvalue(d5,d6)
error += (pvalue - CORRECT_ANSWERS[2]).abs
printf("Test sets 3 p-value = %.14g\n",pvalue)

pvalue = calculate_Pvalue(d7,d8)
error += (pvalue - CORRECT_ANSWERS[3]).abs
printf("Test sets 4 p-value = %.14g\n",pvalue)

pvalue = calculate_Pvalue(x,y)
error += (pvalue - CORRECT_ANSWERS[4]).abs
printf("Test sets 5 p-value = %.14g\n",pvalue)

pvalue = calculate_Pvalue(v1,v2)
error += (pvalue - CORRECT_ANSWERS[5]).abs
printf("Test sets 6 p-value = %.14g\n",pvalue)

pvalue = calculate_Pvalue(s1,s2)
error += (pvalue - CORRECT_ANSWERS[6]).abs
printf("Test sets 7 p-value = %.14g\n",pvalue)

pvalue = calculate_Pvalue(z1,z2)
error += (pvalue - CORRECT_ANSWERS[7]).abs
printf("Test sets z p-value = %.14g\n",pvalue)

printf("the cumulative error is %g\n", error)
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Warnings

You should always turn warnings on during development. Your code generates 6 warnings, all of which are easy to fix:

test.rb:1: warning: parentheses after method name is interpreted as an argument list, not a decomposed argument
test.rb:51: warning: mismatched indentations at 'else' with 'if' at 45
test.rb:56: warning: mismatched indentations at 'end' with 'if' at 45
test.rb:93: warning: mismatched indentations at 'end' with 'while' at 64
test.rb:64: warning: literal in condition
test.rb:95: warning: mismatched indentations at 'end' with 'def' at 1

Formatting

You should use your text editor's auto-format feature.

Linting

If you want to make sure that your code is idiomatic, you should use an automated linting tool that checks for violations of Community Coding Style Guidelines, common mistakes, complexity, etc. One popular tool for this is Rubocop. If I run Rubocop with the default settings on your code, I get a whopping 408 violations. Thankfully, 391 of those can be auto-corrected, leaving only 17, of which 13 are trivially correctable.

Consistency

Consistency is very important when writing code. Actually, it is very important when writing anything technical. If there are two different ways to write something, and you use two different ways to write it, people are going to assume that you wanted to express two different things, and thus they will waste time trying to figure out why you expressed the same thing two different ways.

It is important not only to be consistent with yourself within your code, but also with the community as a whole. There are Community Coding Style Guidelines in pretty much every community, and usually, there are also tools that automatically format your code according to those guidelines.

Here are a couple of examples:

  • Indentation

    • Amount: Sometimes, you indent by 1 column, sometimes by 2, sometimes by 4. There does not seem to be any logic whatsoever as to which amount of indentation you choose. Idiomatic would be 2. For example, the first three lines:

      def calculate_Pvalue (array1, array2)
       if array1.size <= 1
         return 1.0
      
    • When to indent: Sometimes, you indent the body of a loop or a conditional expression, sometimes you don't. Again, there does not seem to be any logic to it. Idiomatic would be to indent. Also, sometimes you indent just randomly in the middle of a sequence of expressions. Also in this case, I can't see any logic to it. Idiomatic would be to not indent.

  • Whitespace

    • Around Operators: Sometimes, you put whitespace around operators, sometimes not. Idiomatic would be to use whitespace. Personally, I sometimes use different amounts of whitespace to emphasize precedence rules, e.g. I would write a*b + c, but I can't find such a logic in your case, for example here: variance1 / array1.size + variance2/array2.size
    • Around Commas: Sometimes, you have no whitespace around commas, sometimes you have whitespace after a comma. Idiomatic would be to have 1 space after a comma.
    • Within parentheses: Sometimes, you have whitespace after the opening and before the closing parenthesis, sometimes not. Idiomatic would be to have no whitespace.
  • Operators

    • Boolean keyword operators: Sometimes you use the operator symbols (&& / ||), sometimes you use the keywords (and / or). I cannot detect any logic as to when you use which. Idiomatic would be to use the symbol versions. Example:

      if value < 0.0 || 1.0 < value
        return value
      end
      if value == 0 or value == 1.0
        return value
      end
      
    • Compound assignment: Sometimes, you use compound assignment (a += b) and sometimes the long form (a = a + b). Idiomatic would be to use the compound form, unless it severely hinders readability. Examples: variance1 += (mean1 - x)**2 and psq = psq + 1.0.

  • Naming: sometimes, you spell p-value pvalue and sometimes Pvalue. You should be consistent and pick one. Idiomatic would be pvalue or p_value. Example:

    pvalue = calculate_Pvalue(d1,d2)
    

Naming

  • Snake Case: Names of methods, parameters, local variables, instance variables, class hierarchy variables, and global variables should be written in snake_case. Constants should be written in SCREAMING_SNAKE_CASE. The exception are constants that refer to modules or classes, and methods that are closely related to classes (E.g. Kernel#Hash, Kernel#Float), which are written in PascalCase. So, calculate_Pvalue should be either calculate_pvalue or calculate_p_value.

  • Intention-revealing names: Names should be intention-revealing. There are couple of names in your code that don't really help with understanding, e.g. temp and value.

Layout

  • Whitespace: Your code is all mashed together with no room to breathe. You should break up logical blocks with whitespace to make the flow easier to follow.

  • Indentation: You already start your code indented by 1 space. Your code should start with no indentation. Then, blocks should be indented bxy 2 spaces.

  • No whitespace after method name: both when sending a message (calling a method) and when defining a method, there should be no whitespace between the name and the opening parenthesis of the argument list / parameter list:

    def calculate_Pvalue (array1, array2)
    

Semantics

  • Useless conditional:

    value = 1.0 - value if indx
    

    There is no way that indx can ever become falsy in your code (it will always be either 0 or 1, both of which are truthy), so this conditional is redundant and should just be:

    value = 1.0 - value
    
  • Redundant conditionals:

    if value < 0.0 || 1.0 < value
      return value
    end
    if value == 0 or value == 1.0
      return value
    end
    

    You return the value if it is less than zero and you also return the value if it is equal to zero. That is the same thing as returning the value if it is less than or equal to zero. Same for the other conditional. Replace with

    if value <= 0.0 || 1.0 <= value
      return value
    end
    
  • Use Range#cover?: Actually, the above conditional is even better written as

    unless (0.0..1.0).cover?(value)
      return value
    end
    
  • Use modifier-if for single-expression conditionals and guard clauses: prefer

    return value unless (0.0..1.0).cover?(value)
    
  • Useless use of Float literals: In the above and many other places, you could equally well use Integer literals. An explicit Float literal is only required when you specifically need to call a Float method, e.g. for division. So, just use 1 and 0 instead.

  • Use Numeric#zero? predicate instead of testing for equality with 0: There are multiple places where you test for equality with 0. It would be more idiomatic to use the Numeric#zero? predicate instead:

    return 1 if variance1.zero? && variance2.zero?
    
  • Avoid loops: In general, you should avoid loops as much as possible. You should prefer high-level iterators such as inject, map, select, etc. Only if that is not possible, use each. In case you need an infinite loop, use Kernel#loop. Don't use while true and most definitely do not use while 1. For example,

    variance1 = 0
    variance2 = 0
    array1.each do |x|
      variance1 += (mean1 - x)**2
    end
    array2.each do |x|
      variance2 += (mean2 - x)**2
    end
    

    becomes

    variance1 = array1.inject(0) {|acc, x| acc + (mean1 - x)**2 }
    variance2 = array2.inject(0) {|acc, x| acc + (mean2 - x)**2 }
    
  • Redundant return: In Ruby, the last expression evaluated inside a block, method, module, or class is the return value. So, instead of return value, you can just write value.

  • Magic number: What does 0.57236494292470009 mean? You should give it a name.

  • *Use Array#first instead of [0]: Replace

    beta = Math.lgamma(a)[0] + 0.57236494292470009 - Math.lgamma(a + 0.5)[0]
    

    with

    beta = Math.lgamma(a).first + 0.57236494292470009 - Math.lgamma(a + 0.5).first
    
  • freeze objects that are not meant to be modified, especially ones that are assigned to constants:

    CORRECT_ANSWERS = [0.021378001462867, 0.148841696605327, 0.0359722710297968,
                       0.090773324285671, 0.0107515611497845, 0.00339907162713746, 
                       0.52726574965384, 0.545266866977794].freeze
    
  • Frozen string literals: In the same vein, you should make a habit of adding the magic comment

    # frozen_string_literal: true
    

    to all your files.

  • Commented out code: You should not comment out code. That's what a version control system is for.

  • Duplication: There is a fair amount of duplication in your code, e.g.

    mean1 = array1.sum / array1.size
    mean2 = array2.sum / array2.size
    

    or

    variance1 = 0.0
    variance2 = 0.0
    array1.each do |x|
      variance1 += (mean1 - x)**2
    end
    array2.each do |x|
      variance2 += (mean2 - x)**2
    end
    

    You could remove this duplication e.g. by extracting the logic into a method.

  • Complexity: The method is very complex, according to pretty much any metric (Cyclomatic Complexity, NPath Complexity, ABC, Perceived Complexity, …). You should break it up into multiple methods.

  • Documentation: All your methods should have a documentation comment describing their purpose, usage, and pre- and post-conditions. Also, while in general, code should describe itself, in your case, you should document the algorithm and the names of the variables. Presumably, those names come from a well-known paper, in that case, you should cite that paper. (Note: in general, variable names like x, xx, pp, etc. should be avoided because they do not reveal the intent of the code, but here, I assume they actually are intention-revealing names because they are well-known to a reader versed in statistics. Still, you should document where those names come from.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ thanks, this code is a translation of C, which in turn is a translation of Fortran, so that's where a lot of the quirkiness comes from. The variable names were given by someone else, like you said, I'm not entirely sure what they represent \$\endgroup\$ – con Sep 12 at 16:49
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Some general guidelines:

  • Try to keep methods short (+- 10 lines max). Each method should serve a somewhat distinct purpose.
  • Use clear variable names

Prefer inline if-statements:

return 1.0 if array1.size <= 1
if array1.size <= 1
  return 1.0
end

Another case:

return 1.0 if mean1 == mean2
if mean1 == mean2
  return 1.0
end

A big one:

  return value if a <= 0
  return value if value < 0.0 || value > 1.0
  return value if (value == 0) || (value == 1.0)
if a <= 0
  return value
end
if value < 0.0 || 1.0 < value
  return value
end
if value == 0 or value == 1.0
  return value
end

You get the point.

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