Archive for December, 2009

Useful utility functions – 0 of n

December 15, 2009 Leave a comment

This is the first in what I’m sure will be a lengthy series of posts about utility functions I find myself needing time and time again.  When I say utility function, I generally just mean a static function that does something useful (aka helper function), whose logic is often self-contained and unrelated to a specific class or component.

The first of these methods I never knew I was missing until I played around with Processing one weekend.  The method in question is a mapping function taking a value in one range to a value in another range.  Its signature is as follows:

map(value, low1, high1, low2, high2)

The Processing description of the method says

Re-maps a number from one range to another. In the example above, the number ‘25’ is converted from a value in the range 0..100 into a value that ranges from the left edge (0) to the right edge (width) of the screen.

Numbers outside the range are not clamped to 0 and 1, because out-of-range values are often intentional and useful.

My Java implementation of map is as follows:

 * @param value The incoming value to be converted
 * @param low1  Lower bound of the value's current range
 * @param high1 Upper bound of the value's current range
 * @param low2  Lower bound of the value's target range
 * @param high2 Upper bound of the value's target range
public static final double map(double value, double low1, double high1, double low2, double high2) {

    double diff = value - low1;
    double proportion = diff / (high1 - low1);

    return lerp(low2, high2, proportion);

// Linearly interpolate between two values
public static final double lerp(double value1, double value2, double amt) {
    return ((value2 - value1) * amt) + value1;

Any time you’re converting from one range of numbers to another, this method will come in handy.  You probably have code already to handle this on an ad hoc basis; I know I certainly did before seeing the method in Processing.  Hopefully this is helpful to you.

Categories: Java, programming, regular Tags: ,

Apache Commons Primitive Collections

December 2, 2009 3 comments

Do you ever work with libraries that require you to pass around primitive arrays?  If you do, you’ve probably run into the pain involved with trying to create these arrays if the underlying data is variably sized.  Why is it painful in Java?  Because the wonderful Collection classes that exist are for Objects only, and not primitive types.  There are no variable sized collections for primitive types.  So you might find yourself doing the following:

// need a double[] matching some criteria for a library call

List doublesMatching = new ArrayList();

// populate the list

double[] array = new double[doublesMatching.size()];

for (int i = 0; i < array.length; i++) {

  array[i] = doublesMatching.get(i);


// Use the array


Apache Commons has a whole slew of variable sized primitive collections, making your intent much clearer, and your code shorter.  Furthermore, if you have to deal with a huge amount of these primitive types, you gain a substantial space boost by not having the autoboxed object bloat.

Here is that same code above, avoiding all of the autoboxing and copying:

DoubleCollection doubles = new ArrayDoubleList();

// Populate doubles list; autoboxing is avoided


Categories: Java, programming, regular