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Cover image for Let's Count Some Sheep!

Let's Count Some Sheep!

Michelle Kaplan
・3 min read

Having trouble falling asleep? It might be time to start counting some sheep. But, instead of counting with numbers, we're going to count the number of times the boolean of true exists in an array. That's right nerds, we're putting a spin on this classic method to help with insomnia. After this, you'll be put to sleep in no time!

So, what's a boolean you ask? A boolean is a data type that has one of two possible values, either true or false.

What's an array? Well my friends, that's a data structure that consists of a collection of elements, that is identified by it's index value.

So, now imagine we have an array that we're assigning to a variable (called sheep1). Inside this array, we have an array of true and false elements. We're going to have 17 true values and 7 false values. Like this:

var sheep1 = [
  true, true, true, false,
  true, true, true, true,
  true, false, true, false,
  true, false, false, true,
  true, true, true, true,
  false, false, true, true
];

Let's get started

Our challenge now is to write a function that is going to return a Number that represents the number of times that true was present in the array. So, when we invoke the function, we expect to return 17, which is the number of times that true is present in the array.

There's multiple ways to solve this fun problem, but before we get ahead of ourselves, it would be a good idea to talk through how'd we solve this in plain English, instead of getting caught up in all this computer speak. This is something we like to call, pseudo coding.

To start, we'd like to look at the sheep1 array and find all of the instances of the boolean true. Maybe we create a bucket that we can put these true values into each time we see the word true. Then, at the end we can look at our bucket and count how many true values we have. Okay, now we're ready to start coding!

Follow along with this link to my repl.it (https://repl.it/@michellekaplan7/counting-sheep)

Let's start by explaining the simplest way to solve this problem:

  • Let's first created a function called, countSheep
  • Next, we'll declare a variable called count that is assigned the value of 0 to start
  • Then, we'll iterate over the length of the array (this indicates the use of a 'for' loop)
  • Each time we iterate over the array, if the current index of the array equals true, increase the value of our counter by 1
  • Finally, return the value of our count variable, which will be the amount of times the boolean of true was in our array.
function countSheep(array) {
   var count = 0;
   for (var i = 0; i < array.length; i++) {
     if (array[i] === true) {
       count += 1;
       }
     }
     return count;
   }  

That's too easy you say!? How about another solution!

 function countSheep(array) {
   var trueCounter = [];
   for (var i = 0; i < array.length; i++) {
     if (array[i] === true) {
       trueCounter.push(array[i]);
     }
   } return trueCounter.length;
 }

In this solution, instead of creating a count variable, we are now declaring a variable called trueCounter assigned to an empty array. This way, each time we iterate over the array, we can use an array prototype (called push()), and "push" that instance of the boolean of true into this new array. Once we've gone through our 'for' loop, we will return the length of this trueCounter array! Pretty cool huh?

Still not tough enough for ya? Check this out!

function countSheep(array) {
  for (var i = 0; i < array.length; i++) {
    if (array[i] === false) {
      array.splice([i], 1);
    }
  } 
  return array.length;
}

With this method of solving the problem, we are using the array prototype of slice(). Effectively, we believed that we could iterate over the array and if the index of the array is false, splice that index of the array off. Then, we could return the length of the array. But, WARNING! This solution doesn't work!

Are you still awake?

Comment below and let's figure out why this last solution doesn't work!

Discussion (15)

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bytebodger profile image
Adam Nathaniel Davis • Edited

What you list as the "simplest way to solve this problem" is not actually the simplest solution. There is already a built-in JavaScript function that achieves this result:

const totalTrueValues = anyArray.filter(element => element === true).length;

If you want to technically meet the full requirement (which is to provide your own function that does this), then you just need to wrap the built-in JS solution in a function like:

function getTotalTrueValues(array) {
   return array.filter(element => element === true).length;
}
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abrjagad profile image
Abraham Jagadeesh
function getTotalTrueValues(array) {
   return array.filter(Boolean).length;
}

You may use Boolean too

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michellekaplan7 profile image
Michelle Kaplan Author

Wow, that's great Adam! I'm only 4 weeks into my studies, so I definitely have a lot more to learn. Thanks for posting this solution. I'll be using this!

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bytebodger profile image
Adam Nathaniel Davis

I normally wouldn't make this kinda pedantic observation, but since you say you're "only 4 weeks into studies"...

Get rid of the var. You don't want to use that in "modern" JavaScript design. You should always, always, always use let or const.

It may feel right now like that's a semantic, rather useless, observation. But it's not just based on coding dogma. JavaScript has some particular, umm... headaches regarding this and the hoisting of var-declared variables into global scope. These headaches are solved by religiously sticking with let or constant.

The full description of why var is "problematic" is far longer than I care to type in this reply. But as you get further down your studies, it's a good thing to research.

Also, FWIW, the var keyword tends to cause headaches in other languages as well (e.g., C#).

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ekeijl profile image
Edwin • Edited

Instead of counting sheep, how about we reduce them?

function countSheep(array) {
   return array.reduce((sum, bool) => sum + bool);
}

What's going on here? Where did the sum come from?? Adding the a boolean to a sum??? Are you nuts?!

Ok let's go step by step.

  • Reduce is an array prototype function that executes a reducer function for each of the items in the array and returns a single value.
const reducer = (accumulator, currentValue) => accumulator + currentValue;
  • The reducer function takes 2 arguments:
    • A so called accumulator, in our case it's the sum. The value that you return in the reducer function becomes the accumulator for the next iteration.
    • The value of the current iteration, our boolean!
  • We want to count total amount of times we encounter true.
    • In other words: the sum of all booleans with value true.
    • In other other words, if the value of our current iteration is true, we want to increment the sum by 1.
    • In pseudo code: sum = sum + (true ? 1 : 0).
  • So what about sum + boolean???
    • We need to use a smart little trick: if you convert a boolean to a number, then true will become 1 and false becomes 0. So Number(true) === 1.
    • If we use the addition operator +, JavaScript will automatically convert values to numbers for you!

Now, you may have noticed that we never declare sum anywhere. We never tell the reduce function to start counting at 0. Next to the reducer function, Array.reduce() can take a second parameter, which is the initial value for the accumulator. If we do not pass an initial value, it will just take the first value of our array.

There you have it!

We can just add the boolean to our sum, and it will add 1 if it is true or 0 for false, exactly what we want.

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michellekaplan7 profile image
Michelle Kaplan Author

That's so cool Edwin! Reduce sounds like a very interesting prototype that I'm going to look into more!

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mianashabbir profile image
Mian A Shabbir • Edited

Nice One!

You can also do this with a one-liner es6 arrow function using a JavaScript array filter method.


let sheep1 = [
  true, true, true, false,
  true, true, true, true,
  true, false, true, false,
  true, false, false, true,
  true, true, true, true,
  false, false, true, true
];

const calculateSheeps = (sheeps) => sheeps.filter(sheep => sheep === true).length;

calculateSheeps(sheep1);

You can read more about the filter method here.

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jasmin profile image
Jasmin Virdi • Edited

Here I have tried a different approach to this problem.
Taking sheep1 array as reference.

sheep1.sort();
let noOfTrueValues = sheep1.length - sheep1.indexOf(true);

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michellekaplan7 profile image
Michelle Kaplan Author • Edited

So many different solutions, I love it!

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joerter profile image
John Oerter

Fun article!

The array.splice([i], 1); line should be array.splice(i, 1). Is that what you were looking for?

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abrjagad profile image
Abraham Jagadeesh • Edited
sheep1.join('').match(/true/g).length

not recommended though.

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napicella profile image
Nicola Apicella • Edited

I dunno why, but based on the title of the post I was expecting a deep neural network which would segment sheeps in a picture and then count them XD

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mzaini30 profile image
Zen

You can embed REPL IT like this:

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michellekaplan7 profile image
Michelle Kaplan Author

That's a great tip, thank you! I will use that next time!

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deepslog profile image
deepslog

Checkout:
var sheep1 = [
true, true, true, false,
true, true, true, true,
true, false, true, false,
true, false, false, true,
true, true, true, true,
false, false, true, true
];
function countSheep(sheep1) {
count = 0;
for (let value of sheep1)
if (value)
count++;
return count;
}
console.log(countSheep(sheep1));