A better algorithm to generate random names

In October I published a post about an Algorithm to generate random names. If you came here looking for a way to generate random names, I suggest you go read that post, skim over the source code and then later come back here for the much better version.

The program worked in two parts, a script to generate probability tables and a class called RandomNameGenerator. The script was quickly thrown together. I wanted to save time since this was a small part of a larger project.

When it came time, months later, to add more features and correct some bugs I quickly regretted my decision to “quickly throw together” a script to generate the probability tables. The whole thing was hard to understand and extend. The version I was working with was more involved than what I had originally posted, and using a simple script wasn’t cutting it any more. I had fallen into the proverbial “working fast but taking much more time in the end” trap.

So I started the whole thing over using test-first BDD, OO principles and applying care to my work. In not much more time than it took me to write the first version I had a working second version with the features I wanted and I got rid of the bugs that were bugging (pun intended) me.

I put the whole thing on GitHub so you can go there for the source code and to get a working copy.

I have included some sample data to use to generate names. It’s under the /media directory and it uses names from Greek mythology (all taken from Wikipedia).

There is a small program called fix_sample.rb that will try to convert a sample file to the desired format. The sample is expected to be in following format:

firstName secondName thirdName

Which is a space-delimited plain text file that starts and ends with a space.

The tests are found in the /spec directory.

A sample program, random_name_generator_test.rb provides a sample usage of the program for those who want to know how to call it.

Since this test program is very small I’ll reproduce it here in it’s entirety:

require_relative 'random_name_generator'

generator = RandomNameGenerator.new("media/greek_myth_sample")

puts "Generating 40 names"
40.times {puts generator.generate}

This test program will generate 40 random names and output them to the console, that’s all there is to it.

Here is a sample output:

Ados
Heria
Zeusa
Lestia
Caemis
Catosesos
Hersa
Amede
Meliasa
Kraera
Celespa
Anyssa
Demine
Agra
Uros
Dikia
Arcos
Hemesiste

Take care.

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