Feature #18181


Introduce Enumerable#min_with_value, max_with_value, and minmax_with_value

Added by kyanagi (Kouhei Yanagita) about 1 year ago. Updated 10 months ago.

Target version:


PR is

I propose Enumerable#min_with_value, max_with_value and minmax_with_value.
These methods work like this:

  %w(abcde fg hijk).min_with_value { |e| e.size } # => ['fg', 2]
  %w(abcde fg hijk).max_with_value { |e| e.size } # => ['abcde', 5]
  %w(abcde fg hijk).minmax_with_value { |e| e.size } # => [['fg', 2], ['abcde', 5]]

Corresponding to #min(n), an integer argument can be passed to #min_with_value or #max_with_value.

  %w(abcde fg hijk).min_with_value(2) { |e| e.size } # => [['fg', 2], ['hijk', 4]]
  %w(abcde fg hijk).max_with_value(2) { |e| e.size } # => [['abcde', 5], ['hijk', 4]]


When I use Enumerable#min_by, I sometimes want to get not only the minimum element
but also the value from the given block.
(e.g.: There are many points. Find the nearest point and get distance to it.)

  elem = enum.min_by { |e| foo(e) }
  value = foo(elem)

This works, but I'd like to avoid writing foo() twice. (Consider a more complex case.)

This can be written without repeated foo() like belows, but it is slightly complicated and needs extra arrays.

  value, elem = { |e| [foo(e), e] }.min_by(&:first)

If the size of enum is enormous, it is hard to use intermediate arrays.

Enumerable#min_with_value solves this problem.

I think min_with_value is the best name I could think of, but any suggestions for better names would be appreciated.



Solving a traveling salesman problem in nearest neighbor algorithm.

require 'set'
Point =, :y)
points =[, 1),, 4),, 3),, 2),, 1)])

total = 0
current = points.first
path = [current]

until points.empty?
  current, distance = points.min_with_value do |point|
    Math.hypot(current.x - point.x, current.y - point.y)
  total += distance
  path << current

p path
p total

Updated by sawa (Tsuyoshi Sawada) about 1 year ago

This is a frequently seen use case. I use code like this:

%w(abcde fg hi jkl mn).group_by(&:size).min # => [2, ["fg", "hi", "mn"]]

and I don't see a strong need to shorten it into a single method although I am not strongly against doing so. However, I have some concerns with your proposal:

  1. Its use will be limited if it only picks a single element when the min/max element is not unique. I propose that it should rather hold an array of the corresponding elements.

  2. I don't think the word "value" is appropriate. By this word, what comes to mind most naturally is the min/max value rather than the enumerated element. Perhaps a word like "element(s)" should be used.

  3. I don't think the order of the elements you proposed is appropriate. With each_with_object, the enumerated entity is followed by the accumulating object, i.e., the word order matches the order of the elements within the subarray. I think you should follow this practice.

  4. The methods min/max are used without a block, min_by / max_by are used with a block. And in this case, you are using a block.

Thus, I think your proposal should be modified into something like the following (which looks so similar to what can be done already as I have shown above):

%w(abcde fg hi jkl mn).min_by_with_elements(&:size) # => [2, ["fg", "hi", "mn"]]

Updated by kyanagi (Kouhei Yanagita) about 1 year ago

enum.group_by { ... } holds all of the elements of enum,
so it consumes a lot of memory and is very slow if enum is enormous.

require 'benchmark' do |x|
  enum = -1000000..1000000"group_by") { enum.group_by { |i| i.abs }.min }"map.min_by") { { |i| [i.abs, i] }.min_by(&:first) }"min_with_value") { enum.min_with_value { |i| i.abs } }"each") { enum.each { |i| i.abs } }
                       user     system      total        real
group_by           1.238664   0.243779   1.482443 (  1.483547)
map.min_by         0.721992   0.047738   0.769730 (  0.770767)
min_with_value     0.236433   0.004105   0.240538 (  0.240596)
each               0.150815   0.000000   0.150815 (  0.151704)

#min and #min_by return single element even through there are multiple smallest elements.
There may be cases where it is useful to return multiple elements,
but single element will be enough for most cases.
Writing elements.first everytime is a little bit of a pain.
Besides, size of the elements may become very large. (if almost all of the elements are mapped into the same value)

I think #min_with_value should return the element as primary (i.e. the element is first, the block's value is second)
because #min and #min_by return the element.
Additionally, this is similar to the way #each_with_index and #each_with_object pass their block arguments.

enum.each_with_index do |elem, i| # <- the element is first, the other is second.

enum.each_with_object([]) do |elem, obj| # <- the element is first, the other is second.

Naming issue:

The behavior of this method is described as "The minimum element by the block value and its value".
Based on this, the name will be something like min_element_by_value_and_value or min_element_by_value_with_value if verbosely named.

Considering the method #min which returns the element, the word "element" is thought to be able to omitted.
So I suggest the short name #min_with_value. (I think #min_by_with_value is also possible.)
The word "with" implies that "min(_element)" and "value" are different objects.

Actions #3

Updated by kyanagi (Kouhei Yanagita) about 1 year ago

  • Description updated (diff)

Updated by kyanagi (Kouhei Yanagita) about 1 year ago

I added an example code using #min_with_value.

Updated by Dan0042 (Daniel DeLorme) about 1 year ago

I like this proposal, but I think @sawa's idea has value also. It would be simple to accommodate both uses with a single syntax:

%w(abcde fg xx hijk).min_with_value(&:size) # => [2, 'fg', 'xx']
v,elem = %w(abcde fg xx hijk).min_with_value(&:size)   #in the normal case where you only want the 'first' minimum
v,*elems = %w(abcde fg xx hijk).min_with_value(&:size) #when you want all of them
Actions #6

Updated by kyanagi (Kouhei Yanagita) about 1 year ago

  • Description updated (diff)

Updated by kyanagi (Kouhei Yanagita) about 1 year ago

Description about #min_with_value(n) added. It corresponds to #min(n).

Updated by Eregon (Benoit Daloze) about 1 year ago

:+1: I've needed this several times.
I think the semantics in the description are the best and clearest.

Updated by matz (Yukihiro Matsumoto) 12 months ago

Just for confirmation, is it OK that min_with_value returns only a single value?
I don't like the name _with_value. It explains that the method returns an additional value with the minimum/maximum value, but no additional information on the value.


Updated by Dan0042 (Daniel DeLorme) 12 months ago

What about min_with ?

%w(abcde fg hijk).min_with(&:size) # => ['fg', 2]
                                   #     ^min  ^size

Updated by cvss (Kirill Vechera) 12 months ago

There's also a frequent similar problem with #find when you need to find the first matched value instead of entry. But since it involves two semantically different code parts, it a bit more complex and cannot be implemented nicely with the same approach:

%w(abcde fg hijk).find_with_value { |e| (size = e.size).even? && size } # => ['fg', 2]

We can create some lazy mapping enumerator providing pairs [entry, value], which we unroll in the second chain just as much as we need and without repeating the computation of value:

module Enumerable
  def with_map &block
    map{|e| [e,]}

%w(abcde fg hijk).lazy.with_map(&:size).find{_2.even?} # => ['fg', 2]

Back to #min_with_value, it could be written as:

%w(abcde fg hijk).lazy.with_map(&:size).min_by(&:last) # => ['fg', 2]

We can add some shorthand methods specific to this enumerator like these:

%w(abcde fg hijk).lazy.with_map(&:size).min_by_value # => ['fg', 2]
%w(abcde fg hijk).lazy.with_map(&:size).min # => ['fg', 2] - #min is overwritten as an alias to min_by_value
%w(abcde fg hijk).lazy.with_map(&:size).find_by_value(&:even?) # => ['fg', 2]
%w(abcde fg hijk).lazy.with_map(&:size).find(&:even?) # => ['fg', 2] - #find is overwritten as an alias to find_by_value

Updated by kyanagi (Kouhei Yanagita) 12 months ago

matz (Yukihiro Matsumoto) wrote in #note-9:

Just for confirmation, is it OK that min_with_value returns only a single value?

I think that returning a single value will suit most cases.
It matches that min also returns a single value.
But if it is considered that returning multiple values is better, I will not disagree with it.

Updated by ko1 (Koichi Sasada) 12 months ago

Another idea (evaluate a given block with a result):

class Enumerator
  def with_value(&b)
    v = each(&b)

pp %w(abcde fg hijk).min_by.with_value{|e| e.size}
#=> ["fg", 2]

It is general for ..._by methods. If given block has side-effect or consumes huge time, it is not acceptable, though.

Updated by shan (Shannon Skipper) 11 months ago

For a single value, a "then" suffix might be nice.

%w(abcde fg hijk).min_by(&:size)
#=> "fg"

%w(abcde fg hijk).min_by_then(&:size)
#=> 2

It mirrors #min_by and #then with the same block.

%w(abcde fg hijk).min_by(&:size).then(&:size)
#=> 2

Updated by baweaver (Brandon Weaver) 11 months ago

I like the more generic suggestion from @ko1 (Koichi Sasada) on with_value, I had a similar idea before reading it when @shan (Shannon Skipper) pinged me about this ticket.

The other potential is using the _map suffix as is the case with filter_map:

%w(abcde fg hijk).min_map { |e| e.size }
# => ['fg', 2]

%w(abcde fg hijk).max_map { |e| e.size }
# => ['abcde', 5]

%w(abcde fg hijk).minmax_map { |e| e.size }
# => [['fg', 2], ['abcde', 5]]

%w(abcde fg hijk).min_map(2) { |e| e.size }
# => [['fg', 2], ['hijk', 4]]

%w(abcde fg hijk).max_map(2) { |e| e.size }
# => [['abcde', 5], ['hijk', 4]]

This has precedence, though I do wonder how many functions we accumulate in Enumerable that are effectively the composition of two or more Enumerable methods.

More musing, and in a general sense, I'm reminded of Elixir extracting Enumerable-like methods into Enum and allowing potential composition and the rejected prior syntax of Enumerable.:method which ties into a fairly old post on my hopes for the also rejected pipeline operator that was proposed.

I may write a bit on that general idea, but I do see great value in the general concept of min_with_value as I myself have needed it a few times in the past.

Updated by kyanagi (Kouhei Yanagita) 10 months ago

Another name proposal:

When I write array.min_with_value { foo }, I mean "minimize foo with an element in array".

So array.minimizing { foo } (and maximizing) may be the candidate.


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