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Mark is a graph advocate and field engineer for Neo Technology, the company behind the Neo4j graph database. As a field engineer, Mark helps customers embrace graph data and Neo4j building sophisticated solutions to challenging data problems. When he's not with customers Mark is a developer on Neo4j and writes his experiences of being a graphista on a popular blog at He tweets at @markhneedham. Mark is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 493 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Ruby/Python: Constructing a taxonomy from an array using zip

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As I mentioned in my previous blog post I’ve been hacking on a product taxonomy and I wanted to create a ‘CHILD’ relationship between a collection of categories.

For example, I had the following array and I wanted to transform it into an array of ‘SubCategory, Category’ pairs:

taxonomy = ["Cat", "SubCat", "SubSubCat"]
# I wanted this to become [("Cat", "SubCat"), ("SubCat", "SubSubCat")

In order to do this we need to zip the first 2 items with the last which I found reasonably easy to do using Python:

>>> zip(taxonomy[:-1], taxonomy[1:])
[('Cat', 'SubCat'), ('SubCat', 'SubSubCat')]

Here we using the python array slicing notation to get all but the last item of ‘taxonomy’ and then all but the first item of ‘taxonomy’ and zip them together.

I wanted to achieve that effect in Ruby though because my import job was written in that!

We can’t achieve the open ended slicing as far as I can tell so the following gives us an error:

> taxonomy[..-1]
SyntaxError: (irb):10: syntax error, unexpected tDOT2, expecting ']'
	from /Users/markhneedham/.rbenv/versions/1.9.3-p327/bin/irb:12:in `<main>'

The way negative indexing works is a bit different so to remove the last item of the array we use ‘-2′ rather than ‘-1′:

> taxonomy[0..-2].zip(taxonomy[1..-1])
=> [["Cat", "SubCat"], ["SubCat", "SubSubCat"]]

Published at DZone with permission of Mark Needham, author and DZone MVB. (source)

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