A Dozen Lines Of Code

January 24, 2012

Today’s task will require your imagination and creativity.

A high-school programming teacher recently asked for examples of short programs with a high “cool” factor, the idea being to get his students interested in programming computers. I’m not sure the suggestions would work; today’s high-school students have been surrounded by computers their entire lives, and it takes a lot to make them think a program is cool. Being from a different generation, I can remember when I thought it was cool that a program properly skipped over the perforation on a stack of green-bar paper — many programs didn’t!

Your task is to write a cool program in a dozen lines of code. You can define cool in any way that you wish. Try not to abuse the definition of “line of code,” at least not too badly; to be concrete, we will say that your solution must not exceed 12 lines, and each line must not exceed 80 characters including white space. When you are finished, you are welcome to read or run a suggested solution, or to post your own solution or discuss the exercise in the comments below.


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16 Responses to “A Dozen Lines Of Code”

  1. David said

    In ruby, less than a dozen lines you can write a program to display the frequency all the words in a file (“word” defined loosely here as C/C++ style identifier, except it also accepts leading digits as “words” so it should do a reasonable job for text (i.e. not programming language) documents)

    wcount = Hash.new 0
    $stdin.each do |line|
        line.scan /[a-zA-Z0-9_]+/ do |word|
            wcount[word.downcase] += 1
    wcount.sort.each do |w,c|
        printf "%-15s %d\n", w, c

    Analyzing itself:

    PS C:\Users\dave\Documents\dev\cs453> cat wf.rb | ruby wf.rb
    0               1
    1               1
    15s             1
    9_              1
    a               1
    c               2
    d               1
    do              3
    downcase        1
    each            2
    end             3
    hash            1
    line            2
    n               1
    new             1
    printf          1
    scan            1
    sort            1
    stdin           1
    w               2
    wcount          3
    word            2
    z0              1
    za              1
  2. Ben Simon said

    Here’s my solution:

    ;; A simple Boss Key app. My contribution to the dozen-line program contest.
    NeedToHide = .*(Mozilla|Explorer|Chrome).*
    WantToShow = .*emacs.*
    SetTitleMatchMode, RegEx
    WinGet, id, list, %NeedToHide%
    Loop, %id% {
    this_id := id%A_Index%
    WinHide, ahk_id %this_id%
    WinActivate, %WantToShow%

    And some explanation behind it: http://benjisimon.blogspot.com/2012/01/my-dozen-lines-of-code.html

  3. […] today’s Programming Praxis exercise, our goal is to make any program we want, as long as it’s cool […]

  4. My Haskell program, which is an 11-line implementation of Conway’s Game of Life (see http://bonsaicode.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/programming-praxis-a-dozen-lines-of-code/ for a version with comments):

    import qualified Data.List.Key as K
    import qualified Data.Map as M
    rule (cy,cx) m = elem ns $ if alive (cy,cx) then [2,3] else [3] where
        ns = sum [1 | y <- [-1..1], x <- [-1..1], (y,x) /= (0,0), alive (cy+y,cx+x)]
        alive (x, y) = M.lookup (x, y) m == Just 'x'
    step m = if null on then M.empty else M.fromList
        [((y,x),if rule (y,x) m then 'x' else '.') | y <- range fst, x <- range snd]
        where on = M.keys $ M.filter (== 'x') m
              range f = [minimum (map f on) - 1..maximum (map f on) + 1]
    load s = M.fromList [((y,x),c) | (y,l)<-zip [0..] $ lines s, (x,c)<-zip [0..] l]
    display = mapM_ (putStrLn . map snd) . ([] :) . K.group (fst . fst) . M.assocs
    main = mapM_ (display . snd) . takeWhile (uncurry (/=)) .
        (\l -> zip l $ tail l) . iterate step . load =<< readFile "life.txt"

    Note that I am not counting the import statements as lines of code.

  5. brice said
    #!/usr/bin/env python
    pinc.py: an arbitraty text include filter.
    Pinc.py reads a source file with include directives in the following format:
        (> file_to_include.ext <)
        (!> file_to_execute.sh --args foo <)
    Included files will be included verbatim. If executing a file, the stdout will be included.
    If a directive is indented, as follows:
        normal text
            (> file_to_include.ext <)
        more normal text
    Then the indentation will be preserved for all included lines.
    Includes cannot be escaped, but any non-whitespace character before a directive will make pinc.py ignore the directive. For example:
        some text
             (> will_be_included.txt <)
        some more text
        this (> will_NOT_be_included.txt <)
        even more text
    pinc.py reads from the stdin and writes to stdout. It takes no arguments.
    pinc.py is one pass non-recursive. The included text is not parsed for pinc.py directive.
    import sys, re, od.path, shlex, subprocess
    for line in sys.stdin:
      match_exe = re.match(r'(\s*)\(!>(.*)<\)\s*', line)
      match_inc = re.match(r'(\s*)\(>(.*)<\)\s*', line)
      if match_exe:
        space, args = match_exe.groups()
        sys.stdout.writelines(map(lambda x: space+x+"\n", subprocess.check_output(shlex.split(args)).split("\n")))
      elif match_inc:
        space, inc = match_inc.groups()
        sys.stdout.writelines(map(lambda x: space+x, open(inc.strip())))
  6. brice said

    For the above, substitute od.path for os.path.

    To use pinc.py as a quine, try: [tt]echo “(> pinc.py >)” | python pinc.py[/tt]

  7. phillip said

    def add(x,y): #assumes both numbers are postive.
    while y > 0:
    x,y = x^y, (x&y)<0:
    if y&1 == 1:
    total = add(total,x)
    x = x<>1
    return x

  8. phillip said

    hmm the source code optino didnt work very well. heres the pastebin option

  9. Gambiteer said

    This computes a Brent-Salamin approximation to pi with k digits base b.
    Edited from the Gambit examples.

    > (pi-brent-salamin 10 100)

    (define (pi-brent-salamin b k) ; k is number of digits
      (define q quotient) (define is integer-sqrt)
      (define b^k (expt b k)) (define (f.* x y) (q (* x y) b^k))
      (define (f.square x) (f.* x x)) (define (f./ x y) (q (* x b^k) y))
      (define (f.sqrt x) (is (* x b^k))) (define (n->f x) (round (* x b^k)))
      (let ((one (n->f 1)))
        (let loop ((a one) (b (f.sqrt (q one 2))) (t (q one 4)) (x 1))
          (if (= a b) (q (* a a) t)
              (let ((new-a (q (+ a b) 2)))
                (loop new-a (is (* a b))
                      (- t (* x (f.square (- new-a a)))) (* 2 x)))))))
  10. sunwukong said

    I’ve modified one of my old snippets… (see my website for the original)

    /circle { 0 360 arc fill } def
    /disc { 0 0 0 setrgbcolor x y r circle
              0 0 setrgbcolor x 3 sub y 3 add r circle } def
    5000 { /x rand 595 mod def
           /y rand 842 mod def
           /r rand 40 mod 10 add def
           rand 128 mod 100 add 256 div disc } repeat
    /line 842 18 sub def /file (discs.ps) (r) file def
    /Courier-Bold findfont 16 scalefont setfont 1 1 1 setrgbcolor
    /buffer 80 string def { file buffer readline
        { 4 line moveto show /line line 30 sub def }
        { exit } ifelse } loop

    Okay, I admit that the lines are a bit overfull… but the result quite worths it,
    see an image here.

  11. A python program that generates high frequencies can be used as a dog whistle and also to annoy your friends.

    from winsound import *;import random
    while True:Beep(random.randint(300,1000),random.randint(500,1000))

  12. ardnew said

    Perl iterative permutation algorithm (Fischer-Krause) to permute the characters of a string.

    11 lines (although slightly abused with the 1-line while loops), max width of 67 characters:

    sub permute($$) {
      @{$_[0]} = sort { $a cmp $b } @{$_[0]};  
      while (print "@{$_[0]}\n") {        
        my ($k, $j) = ($_[1] - 1, $_[1] - 1);    
        --$k while ((${$_[0]}[$k - 1] cmp ${$_[0]}[$k]) >= 0);  
        last if $k < 1; 
        --$j while ((${$_[0]}[$k - 1] cmp ${$_[0]}[$j]) >= 0);      
        @{$_[0]}[$j, $k - 1] = @{$_[0]}[$k - 1, $j];
        @{$_[0]}[$k .. $_[1] - 1] = reverse @{$_[0]}[$k .. $_[1] - 1];    

    Driver/demo program:

    if (scalar @ARGV) {
      my @data = split '', $ARGV[0];
      permute(\@data, scalar @data);


    $ perl permute.pl abc
    a b c
    a c b
    b a c
    b c a
    c a b
    c b a
  13. Manoj Senguttuvan said

    The ‘Divisors’ Problem (https://programmingpraxis.com/2012/02/14/divisors/) under 12 lines :P

    <? $n=$argv[1];
                    while($j++<=$i) $arr[$i][$count]=$i%$j==0?$j*(++$count/$count):$arr[$i][$count];
    echo "Perfect: "; 
    {        foreach( $arr[$i] as $j => $val) $sum+=$val;
             echo $sum==2*$i?$i." ":"";
            $sums[$i]=$sum-$i; }
    print "\nAmicable Pairs: "; for($i=2;$i<=$n;$i++)
    {        $x=$sums[$i];
            if($x<$i && $sums[$x]==$i) echo "($i,$x) "; } ?>
  14. Will Ness said

    How can we not have here a linearithmic (more or less) primes generating code in 8 lines of Haskell: :)

    primes = 2 : _Y ((3:) . diff [5,7..] . unionAll . map (\p-> [p*p, p*p+2*p..]))
    _Y g = g (_Y g)  
    unionAll ((x:xs):t) = x : (joyn xs . unionAll . pairs) t  
       where   pairs (a:b:t) = joyn a b : pairs t
    ordzip a b = g a b   where { g a@(x:r) b@(y:q)   
       | x<y = (x,0):g r b | y<x = (0,y):g a q | otherwise = (x,y):g r q }  
    diff xs ys = [x | (x,y)<- ordzip xs ys, x/=0 && y==0]   
    joyn xs ys = [z | (x,y)<- ordzip xs ys, x/=0 || y/=0, let z=max x y] 

    Test it at http://codepad.org/Z62VCphw.

  15. Will Ness said

    Forgot to mention that the code itself is a _genuine one-liner_; all the rest are general auxiliary utilities. :)

  16. Will Ness said

    For instance, the intersection of two ordered increasing lists – a function not used in `primes` – is

    meet xs ys = [x | (x,y)<- ordzip xs ys, x/=0 && y/=0] 

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