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In this lab you will practice working with Scala applying functional thinking. You can use whichever of the tools introduced in Lab 1 you prefer to attempt the following exercises. You should use your lecture notes and references listed under ‘Further reading’ to help you.

Task 1. Lists and Strings

In these exercises you will focus on results, not steps, and apply the principle:

“Offload mundane details to programming languages, focus on the unique aspects of your programming problems”

You will need to know what you can offload, so you will need to refer to the Scala API documentation for the List and String.



Note that List is a class, while The String type in Scala has methods that come either from the underlying Java String or are added implicitly through scala.collection.immutable.StringOps.


Create the following List:

val myList = List(1, 3, 1, 7, 9, 5)

  1. Find the entry within the List class documentation page for the method head. What does this do? Call the method to test this.
  2. Find and test a method that returns a List containing all the remaining elements of myList.
  3. Perform the following operations on myList using a single method call in each case. Note the result and the type of the result for each. Note that the result is a new object, the original myList is not changed.
  • Sum all the elements in myList
  • Reverse the order of myList
  1. Split myList into two separate lists – List(1,3,1) and List(7,9,5). As before, look in the documentation for a method that helps you do this.
  2. Call the filter method of myList using:

myList.filter(p => p < 6 )

What is the effect of the lambda expression used as a parameter here? Use the same lambda expression in a call to a different method to get the result List(1,3,1)

  1. In some of the exercises you have seen a method of List return another List. In these cases, you can chain methods together to perform more complex operations.

Your aim is to count the number of ‘1s’ in myList. How would you do this in an imperative approach? The functional approach might be to break the task into two operations, the first producing a result that can be fed into the other:

  • Extract the ‘1s’
  • Count them

This can be done with a chain of calls – test this example:

myList.filter(p => p == 1 ).length

  1. Use a chain of at most three calls to produce the following:

(List(5, 1),List(3, 1))

  1. Use a chain of two calls to find the lowest value in myList excluding the first three elements


Create the following string:

val myString = “A Santa Lived As a Devil At NASA”

Use the StringOps documentation to help with the following:

  1. Reverse the string (note that as with the List examples, you don’t change the string, you create a new one
  2. A palindrome is a word or phrase that is the same read forwards or backwards. Define a function isPalindrome that takes a String parameter and returns a result indicating whether the String is a palindrome. The function body should simply check whether the original string and its reverse are equal. Test your function – is myString a palindrome?
  3. The phrase in myString is usually considered to be a palindrome, if you ignore the spaces and capital letters. Check that the phrase is a palindrome using your isPalindrome function and suitable methods of StringOps.

Remove the first word of myString and check that it is no longer a palindrome.

Use chains of calls to methods or properties of StringOps to do the following:

  • Count the number of spaces in myString
  • Count the number of distinct characters in myString, excluding spaces
  1. (Challenge) Show that the following phrase is a palindrome using your isPalindrome function and suitable methods of StringOps.

“A man, a plan, a canal, Panama”

Task 2. Recursion

In these exercises you will “Focus on results, not steps (be declarative, not imperative)” by using recursion in place of an imperative solution.

Example: calculating a factorial

This can be done in Scala like this:

def factorial(n: Int): BigInt = {if (n == 0)1elsen * factorial (n – 1)}

or more succinctly using pattern matching like this:

def factorial(n: Int): BigInt = n match {case 0 => 1case _ => factorial (n-1) * n}

The recursive function call (where the function calls itself) is highlighted in each case. Note that the return type is BigInt, as factorials can be very large numbers. In each case, the first branch or match is the stopping condition –each call to factorial can either return the value 1 or recursively call factorial again. Look at the example in the notes to see how this gives you the result you want.

  1. Write and test the two versions of the factorial function above, e.g. factorial(10) should be 3628800.
  1. Write a recursive function called gcd to find the greatest common divisor of two integers (you can use either of the programming styles illustrated)

For example, the greatest common divisor of 15 and 12 is 3 – no number greater than 3 divides exactly into both 15 and 12. One approach to showing this is to use the following steps:

write the two numbers 15 12

find the remainder on dividing the first by the second 15 % 12 = 3

write the second number then that remainder 12 3

repeat the operation with these two numbers 12 % 3 = 0

3 0

When the second number is 0 (stopping condition), the result is the first number, 3 in this case

Your gcd function should follow this approach – note where the repetition occurs, this will be where a recursive call is needed.

  1. (Challenge) Write and test a recursive version of the power function that you tested in Lab 1. The signature of the function should look like this:

def power(value: Int, pow: Int): BigInt = {

Think about what is repeated, and how this can be implemented with recursion – hint: the branch or match will depend on the second, parameter pow.


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