Collect Sets Of Ranges
August 25, 2015
A frequent idiom in data processing is the control-break idiom, where some processing must be done every time there is a change in some value. A simple example comes from collecting ranges, for instance, converting the sequence 0, 1, 2, 7, 21, 22, 108, 109 to the ranges 0-2, 7, 21-22, 108-109, where a break occurs whenever two numbers aren’t consecutive.
Writing control-break programs can be difficult, for two reasons. First, you don’t know there is a break until you see the next record after the break, so you either need to look ahead in the input or keep track of what you have seen. Second, there is an implied break at the end of the input, which occurs when there is no record at all. Depending on the situation, either or both of those can be tricky.
Your task is to write a program that converts a sequence to a set of ranges, as shown above. 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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