Sorting an array in descending order in Ruby

0 votes
asked Apr 15, 2010 by waseem

I have an array of hashes like following

[
  { :foo => 'foo', :bar => 2 },
  { :foo => 'foo', :bar => 3 },
  { :foo => 'foo', :bar => 5 },
]

I am trying to sort above array in descending order according to the value of :bar in each hash.

I am using sort_by like following to sort above array.

a.sort_by { |h| h[:bar] }

However above sorts the array in ascending order. How do I make it sort in descending order?

One solution was to do following:

a.sort_by { |h| -h[:bar] }

But that negative sign does not seem appropriate. Any views?

6 Answers

0 votes
answered Jan 15, 2010 by oscarryz

What about:

 a.sort {|x,y| y[:bar]<=>x[:bar]}

It works!!

irb
>> a = [
?>   { :foo => 'foo', :bar => 2 },
?>   { :foo => 'foo', :bar => 3 },
?>   { :foo => 'foo', :bar => 5 },
?> ]
=> [{:bar=>2, :foo=>"foo"}, {:bar=>3, :foo=>"foo"}, {:bar=>5, :foo=>"foo"}]

>>  a.sort {|x,y| y[:bar]<=>x[:bar]}
=> [{:bar=>5, :foo=>"foo"}, {:bar=>3, :foo=>"foo"}, {:bar=>2, :foo=>"foo"}]
0 votes
answered Apr 15, 2010 by pablo-fernandez

Just a quick thing, that denotes the intent of descending order.

descending = -1
a.sort_by { |h| h[:bar] * descending }

(Will think of a better way in the mean time) ;)


a.sort_by { |h| h[:bar] }.reverse!
0 votes
answered Apr 15, 2010 by jrl

You could do:

a.sort{|a,b| b[:bar] <=> a[:bar]}
0 votes
answered Apr 16, 2010 by the-tin-man

It's always enlightening to do a benchmark on the various suggested answers. Here's what I found out:

#!/usr/bin/ruby

require 'benchmark'

ary = []
1000.times { 
  ary << {:bar => rand(1000)} 
}

n = 500
Benchmark.bm(20) do |x|
  x.report("sort")               { n.times { ary.sort{ |a,b| b[:bar] <=> a[:bar] } } }
  x.report("sort reverse")       { n.times { ary.sort{ |a,b| a[:bar] <=> b[:bar] }.reverse } }
  x.report("sort_by -a[:bar]")   { n.times { ary.sort_by{ |a| -a[:bar] } } }
  x.report("sort_by a[:bar]*-1") { n.times { ary.sort_by{ |a| a[:bar]*-1 } } }
  x.report("sort_by.reverse!")   { n.times { ary.sort_by{ |a| a[:bar] }.reverse } }
end

                          user     system      total        real
sort                  3.960000   0.010000   3.970000 (  3.990886)
sort reverse          4.040000   0.000000   4.040000 (  4.038849)
sort_by -a[:bar]      0.690000   0.000000   0.690000 (  0.692080)
sort_by a[:bar]*-1    0.700000   0.000000   0.700000 (  0.699735)
sort_by.reverse!      0.650000   0.000000   0.650000 (  0.654447)

I think it's interesting that @Pablo's sort_by{...}.reverse! is fastest. Before running the test I thought it would be slower than "-a[:bar]" but negating the value turns out to take longer than it does to reverse the entire array in one pass. It's not much of a difference, but every little speed-up helps.


Please note that these results are different in Ruby 1.9

Here are results for Ruby 1.9.3p194 (2012-04-20 revision 35410) [x86_64-darwin10.8.0]:

                           user     system      total        real
sort                   1.340000   0.010000   1.350000 (  1.346331)
sort reverse           1.300000   0.000000   1.300000 (  1.310446)
sort_by -a[:bar]       0.430000   0.000000   0.430000 (  0.429606)
sort_by a[:bar]*-1     0.420000   0.000000   0.420000 (  0.414383)
sort_by.reverse!       0.400000   0.000000   0.400000 (  0.401275)

These are on an old MacBook Pro. Newer, or faster machines, will have lower values, but the relative differences will remain.


Here's a bit updated version on newer hardware and the 2.1.1 version of Ruby:

#!/usr/bin/ruby

require 'benchmark'

puts "Running Ruby #{RUBY_VERSION}"

ary = []
1000.times {
  ary << {:bar => rand(1000)}
}

n = 500

puts "n=#{n}"
Benchmark.bm(20) do |x|
  x.report("sort")               { n.times { ary.dup.sort{ |a,b| b[:bar] <=> a[:bar] } } }
  x.report("sort reverse")       { n.times { ary.dup.sort{ |a,b| a[:bar] <=> b[:bar] }.reverse } }
  x.report("sort_by -a[:bar]")   { n.times { ary.dup.sort_by{ |a| -a[:bar] } } }
  x.report("sort_by a[:bar]*-1") { n.times { ary.dup.sort_by{ |a| a[:bar]*-1 } } }
  x.report("sort_by.reverse")    { n.times { ary.dup.sort_by{ |a| a[:bar] }.reverse } }
  x.report("sort_by.reverse!")   { n.times { ary.dup.sort_by{ |a| a[:bar] }.reverse! } }
end

# >> Running Ruby 2.1.1
# >> n=500
# >>                            user     system      total        real
# >> sort                   0.670000   0.000000   0.670000 (  0.667754)
# >> sort reverse           0.650000   0.000000   0.650000 (  0.655582)
# >> sort_by -a[:bar]       0.260000   0.010000   0.270000 (  0.255919)
# >> sort_by a[:bar]*-1     0.250000   0.000000   0.250000 (  0.258924)
# >> sort_by.reverse        0.250000   0.000000   0.250000 (  0.245179)
# >> sort_by.reverse!       0.240000   0.000000   0.240000 (  0.242340)

New results running the above code using Ruby 2.2.1 on a more recent Macbook Pro. Again, the exact numbers aren't important, it's their relationships:

Running Ruby 2.2.1
n=500
                           user     system      total        real
sort                   0.650000   0.000000   0.650000 (  0.653191)
sort reverse           0.650000   0.000000   0.650000 (  0.648761)
sort_by -a[:bar]       0.240000   0.010000   0.250000 (  0.245193)
sort_by a[:bar]*-1     0.240000   0.000000   0.240000 (  0.240541)
sort_by.reverse        0.230000   0.000000   0.230000 (  0.228571)
sort_by.reverse!       0.230000   0.000000   0.230000 (  0.230040)
0 votes
answered Jan 27, 2014 by christopher-kuttruff

Regarding the benchmark suite mentioned... these results also hold for sorted arrays. sort_by / reverse it is :)

Eg:

# foo.rb
require 'benchmark'

NUM_RUNS = 1000

# arr = []
arr1 = 3000.times.map { { num: rand(1000) } }
arr2 = 3000.times.map { |n| { num: n } }.reverse

Benchmark.bm(20) do |x|
  { 'randomized'     => arr1,
    'sorted'         => arr2 }.each do |label, arr|
    puts '---------------------------------------------------'
    puts label

    x.report('sort_by / reverse') {
      NUM_RUNS.times { arr.sort_by { |h| h[:num] }.reverse }
    }
    x.report('sort_by -') {
      NUM_RUNS.times { arr.sort_by { |h| -h[:num] } }
    }
  end
end

And the results:

$: ruby foo.rb
                           user     system      total        real
---------------------------------------------------
randomized
sort_by / reverse      1.680000   0.010000   1.690000 (  1.682051)
sort_by -              1.830000   0.000000   1.830000 (  1.830359)
---------------------------------------------------
sorted
sort_by / reverse      0.400000   0.000000   0.400000 (  0.402990)
sort_by -              0.500000   0.000000   0.500000 (  0.499350)
0 votes
answered Sep 15, 2017 by ramyani

a.sort_by { |h| h[:bar] }.reverse

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