Viren Bhagat

Solving "Diff Two Arrays" / freeCodeCamp Algorithm Challenges

7/2/2020

'Diff Two Arrays'

Let's solve freeCodeCamp's intermediate algorithm scripting challenge, 'Diff Two Arrays'.

Starter Code

function diffArray(arr1, arr2) {
  var newArr = [];
  return newArr;
}

diffArray([1, 2, 3, 5], [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]);

Instructions

Compare two arrays and return a new array with any items only found in one of the two given arrays, but not both. In other words, return the symmetric difference of the two arrays.

Note You can return the array with its elements in any order.

Tests

diffArray([1, 2, 3, 5], [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]) should return an array.
["diorite", "andesite", "grass", "dirt", "pink wool", "dead shrub"], ["diorite", "andesite", "grass", "dirt", "dead shrub"] should return ["pink wool"].
["diorite", "andesite", "grass", "dirt", "pink wool", "dead shrub"], ["diorite", "andesite", "grass", "dirt", "dead shrub"] should return an array with one item.
["andesite", "grass", "dirt", "pink wool", "dead shrub"], ["diorite", "andesite", "grass", "dirt", "dead shrub"] should return ["diorite", "pink wool"].
["andesite", "grass", "dirt", "pink wool", "dead shrub"], ["diorite", "andesite", "grass", "dirt", "dead shrub"] should return an array with two items.
["andesite", "grass", "dirt", "dead shrub"], ["andesite", "grass", "dirt", "dead shrub"] should return [].
["andesite", "grass", "dirt", "dead shrub"], ["andesite", "grass", "dirt", "dead shrub"] should return an empty array.
[1, 2, 3, 5], [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] should return [4].
[1, 2, 3, 5], [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] should return an array with one item.
[1, "calf", 3, "piglet"], [1, "calf", 3, 4] should return ["piglet", 4].
[1, "calf", 3, "piglet"], [1, "calf", 3, 4] should return an array with two items.
[], ["snuffleupagus", "cookie monster", "elmo"] should return ["snuffleupagus", "cookie monster", "elmo"].
[], ["snuffleupagus", "cookie monster", "elmo"] should return an array with three items.
[1, "calf", 3, "piglet"], [7, "filly"] should return [1, "calf", 3, "piglet", 7, "filly"].
[1, "calf", 3, "piglet"], [7, "filly"] should return an array with six items.

Our Approach

Read everything first. Read the instructions clearly, read the starter code we're given, and read the tests and understand what has to be returned.

  • The function takes in two arguments, arr1 & arr2, both being arrays containing various data types (or being empty).
  • We need to return an array with the 'symmetric difference' of the two arrays (items found in one of the two arrays but not both).

Now that we understand what we are given and what we want to output, let's see how we can solve this.

After reading and thinking about how to approach this problem, I would conclude looping through each array and comparing each item against the other array (to check if it exists) would be a good way to go about it.

Since we've been introduced to newer array methods in the fCC curriculum, it may be a good idea to see if any of them can be implemented in this solution.

Instead of (for) looping, another approach is possibly to combine the arrays and then see which item exists more than once. If there is such a case, we can then remove the item which is there multiple times.

Reading through documenation on my favorite website, Mozilla Developer Network (MDN), we can see what array methods can help us out.

Array.concat()

Array.concat() combines two or more arrays. It will return you a new array (instead of altering your existing ones).

diffArray([1, 2, 3, 5], [1, 2, 3, 4, 5])

let newArr = arr1.concat(arr2);

newArr = [ 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 1, 2, 3, 5 ]

We now have all our items from arr1 and arr2 combined into a new array. We now have to figure out if an item exists more than once and also how to remove it from the array.

The next useful new method we stumble upon is filter().

Array.filter()

filter() will return a new array with all items which pass the constraint (or 'test implemented'). Small example as follows:

const nums = [1, 4, 9, 16, 25, 36, 49];

const doubleDigits = nums.filter(num => num > 9);

console.log(doubleDigits);
// Array(4) [ 16, 25, 36, 49 ]

We need to write a test within our filter() method to check if each item is from/in both arrays, arr1 and arr2.

Another method which we will be using along with filter() is includes(). includes() checks if the value is in the array and returns a true or false.

So our filter() method will go through each item in our newArr and then check, using includes(), if the item is not in arr1 or arr2. If it returns (true), that will mean the item is only in one of the arrays, which is what we want. So if it works correctly, each true value will be in an array.

Array.includes()

newArr.filter(item => !arr1.includes(item) || !arr2.includes(item))
// We're filtering the item if is NOT in arr1 OR it is NOT in arr2

So, to sum it up:

  • Combine arr1 and arr2 into a new array, newArr, using concat()
  • On newArr, run filter()
  • In filter() method, check if each item is not in arr1 OR not in arr2 using includes()
  • Return newArr

Our Solution

function diffArray(arr1, arr2) {
  let newArr = arr1.concat(arr2);
  return newArr.filter(item => !arr1.includes(item) || !arr2.includes(item));
}

Links & Resources

'Diff Two Arrays' Challenge on fCC

freeCodeCamp

Donate to FCC!

Solution on my GitHub

Thank you for reading!

javascript, fcc, algorithms