How to randomize (shuffle) a JavaScript array? [Answered]

Query:

I have an array like this:

var arr1 = ["a", "b", "c", "d"];

How can I randomize/shuffle it?

Randomize/Shuffle a JavaScript array: Answer #1:

The de-facto unbiased shuffle algorithm is the Fisher-Yates (aka Knuth) Shuffle.

See 

function shuffle(array) {
  let currentIndex = array.length,  randomIndex;

  // While there remain elements to shuffle...
  while (currentIndex != 0) {

    // Pick a remaining element...
    randomIndex = Math.floor(Math.random() * currentIndex);
    currentIndex--;

    // And swap it with the current element.
    [array[currentIndex], array[randomIndex]] = [
      array[randomIndex], array[currentIndex]];
  }

  return array;
}

// Used like so
var arr = [2, 11, 37, 42];
shuffle(arr);
console.log(arr);

Shuffle an array in JavaScript- Answer #2:

Here’s a JavaScript implementation of the Durstenfeld shuffle, an optimized version of Fisher-Yates:

/* Randomize array in-place using Durstenfeld shuffle algorithm */
function shuffleArray(array) {
    for (var i = array.length - 1; i > 0; i--) {
        var j = Math.floor(Math.random() * (i + 1));
        var temp = array[i];
        array[i] = array[j];
        array[j] = temp;
    }
}

It picks a random element for each original array element, and excludes it from the next draw, like picking randomly from a deck of cards.

This clever exclusion swaps the picked element with the current one, then picks the next random element from the remainder, looping backwards for optimal efficiency, ensuring the random pick is simplified (it can always start at 0), and thereby skipping the final element.

Algorithm runtime is O(n)Note that the shuffle is done in-place so if you don’t want to modify the original array, first make a copy of it with .slice(0).


EDIT: Updating to ES6 / ECMAScript 2015

The new ES6 allows us to assign two variables at once. This is especially handy when we want to swap the values of two variables, as we can do it in one line of code. Here is a shorter form of the same function, using this feature.

function shuffleArray(array) {
    for (let i = array.length - 1; i > 0; i--) {
        const j = Math.floor(Math.random() * (i + 1));
        [array[i], array[j]] = [array[j], array[i]];
    }
}

Answer #3:

Warning!
The use of this algorithm is not recommended, because it is inefficient and strongly biased; see comments. It is being left here for future reference, because the idea is not that rare.

[1,2,3,4,5,6].sort( () => .5 - Math.random() );

Answer #4:

You can do it easily with map and sort:

let unshuffled = ['hello', 'a', 't', 'q', 1, 2, 3, {cats: true}]

let shuffled = unshuffled
  .map((value) => ({ value, sort: Math.random() }))
  .sort((a, b) => a.sort - b.sort)
  .map(({ value }) => value)
  1. We put each element in the array in an object, and give it a random sort key
  2. We sort using the random key
  3. We unmap to get the original objects

You can shuffle polymorphic arrays, and the sort is as random as Math.random, which is good enough for most purposes.

Since the elements are sorted against consistent keys that are not regenerated each iteration, and each comparison pulls from the same distribution, any non-randomness in the distribution of Math.random is canceled out.

Speed

Time complexity is O(N log N), same as quick sort. Space complexity is O(N). This is not as efficient as a Fischer Yates shuffle but, in my opinion, the code is significantly shorter and more functional. If you have a large array you should certainly use Fischer Yates. If you have a small array with a few hundred items, you might do this.

Answer #5:

One could (or should) use it as a protoype from Array:

From ChristopheD:

Array.prototype.shuffle = function() {
  var i = this.length, j, temp;
  if ( i == 0 ) return this;
  while ( --i ) {
     j = Math.floor( Math.random() * ( i + 1 ) );
     temp = this[i];
     this[i] = this[j];
     this[j] = temp;
  }
  return this;
}

Answer #6:

Use the underscore.js library. The method _.shuffle() is nice for this case. Here is an example with the method:

var _ = require("underscore");

var arr = [1,2,3,4,5,6];
// Testing _.shuffle
var testShuffle = function () {
  var indexOne = 0;
    var stObj = {
      '0': 0,
      '1': 1,
      '2': 2,
      '3': 3,
      '4': 4,
      '5': 5
    };
    for (var i = 0; i < 1000; i++) {
      arr = _.shuffle(arr);
      indexOne = _.indexOf(arr, 1);
      stObj[indexOne] ++;
    }
    console.log(stObj);
};
testShuffle();

Answer #7: Randomize/shuffle an array in JavaScript

Shuffle Array In place

    function shuffleArr (array){
        for (var i = array.length - 1; i > 0; i--) {
            var rand = Math.floor(Math.random() * (i + 1));
            [array[i], array[rand]] = [array[rand], array[i]]
        }
    }

ES6 Pure, Iterative

    const getShuffledArr = arr => {
        const newArr = arr.slice()
        for (let i = newArr.length - 1; i > 0; i--) {
            const rand = Math.floor(Math.random() * (i + 1));
            [newArr[i], newArr[rand]] = [newArr[rand], newArr[i]];
        }
        return newArr
    };

Reliability and Performance Test

Some solutions on this page aren’t reliable (they only partially randomise the array). Other solutions are significantly less efficient. With testShuffleArrayFun (see below) we can test array shuffling functions for reliability and performance.

    function testShuffleArrayFun(getShuffledArrayFun){
        const arr = [0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9]

        var countArr = arr.map(el=>{
            return arr.map(
                el=> 0
            )
        }) //   For each possible position in the shuffledArr and for 
           //   each possible value, we'll create a counter. 
        const t0 = performance.now()
        const n = 1000000
        for (var i=0 ; i<n ; i++){
            //   We'll call getShuffledArrayFun n times. 
            //   And for each iteration, we'll increment the counter. 
            var shuffledArr = getShuffledArrayFun(arr)
            shuffledArr.forEach(
                (value,key)=>{countArr[key][value]++}
            )
        }
        const t1 = performance.now()
        console.log(`Count Values in position`)
        console.table(countArr)

        const frequencyArr = countArr.map( positionArr => (
            positionArr.map(  
                count => count/n
            )
        )) 

        console.log("Frequency of value in position")
        console.table(frequencyArr)
        console.log(`total time: ${t1-t0}`)
    }

Other Solutions

Other solutions just for fun.

ES6 Pure, Recursive

    const getShuffledArr = arr => {
        if (arr.length === 1) {return arr};
        const rand = Math.floor(Math.random() * arr.length);
        return [arr[rand], ...getShuffledArr(arr.filter((_, i) => i != rand))];
    };

ES6 Pure using array.map

    function getShuffledArr (arr){
        return [...arr].map( (_, i, arrCopy) => {
            var rand = i + ( Math.floor( Math.random() * (arrCopy.length - i) ) );
            [arrCopy[rand], arrCopy[i]] = [arrCopy[i], arrCopy[rand]]
            return arrCopy[i]
        })
    }

ES6 Pure using array.reduce

    function getShuffledArr (arr){
        return arr.reduce( 
            (newArr, _, i) => {
                var rand = i + ( Math.floor( Math.random() * (newArr.length - i) ) );
                [newArr[rand], newArr[i]] = [newArr[i], newArr[rand]]
                return newArr
            }, [...arr]
        )
    }

Hope you learned something from this post.

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