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Introduction to python programming for the absolute beginner: simulation and design

Télécharger Introduction to python programming for the absolute beginner: simulation and design

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nnTo understand the potential applications of simulation as a way to solve real-world problems. nnTo understand pseudorandom numbers and their application in Monte Carlo simulations. nnTo understand and be able to apply top-down and spiral design techniques in writing complex programs.


nnTo understand unit-testing and be able

to apply this technique in the implementation and debugging of complex programming.

Simulating Racquetball

nnSimulation can solve real-world problems by modeling real-world processes to provide otherwise unobtainable information. nnComputer simulation is used to predict the weather, design aircraft, create special effects for movies, etc.

A Simulation Problem

nnDenny Dibblebit often plays racquetball with players who are slightly better than he is. nnDenny usually loses his matches!

nnShouldn’t players who are a little better win a

little more often? nnSusan suggests that they write a simulation to see if slight differences in ability can cause such large differences in scores.

nnRacquetball is played between two players using a racquet to hit a ball in a four-walled court. nnOne player starts the game by putting the ball in motion – serving. nnPlayers try to alternate hitting the ball to keep it in play, referred to as a rally. The rally ends when one player fails to hit a legal shot.

nnThe player who misses the shot loses

the rally. If the loser is the player who served, service passes to the other player. nnIf the server wins the rally, a point is awarded. Players can only score points during their own service. nnThe first player to reach 15 points wins the game.

nnIn our simulation, the ability level of the

players will be represented by the probability that the player wins the rally when he or she serves. nnExample: Players with a 0.60 probability win a

point on 60% of their serves. nnThe program will prompt the user to enter the service probability for both players and then simulate multiple games of racquetball. nnThe program will then print a summary of the results.

nnInput: The program prompts for and gets the service probabilities of players A and B. The program then prompts for and gets the number of games to be simulated.

nnOutput: The program will provide a series of initial prompts such as the following:

What is the probability player A wins a serve?

What is the probability that player B wins a server? How many games to simulate?

nnThe program then prints out a nicely

formatted report showing the number of games simulated and the number of wins and the winning percentage for each player.

Games simulated: 500

Wins for A: 268 (53.6%) Wins for B: 232 (46.4%)

nnNotes: nnAll inputs are assumed to be legal numeric values, no error or validity checking is required. nnIn each simulated game, player A serves first.

nnWhen we say that player A wins 50% of the time, that doesn’t mean they win every other game. Rather, it’s more like a coin toss. nnOverall, half the time the coin will come

up heads, the other half the time it will come up tails, but one coin toss does not effect the next (it’s possible to get 5 heads in a row).

nnMany simulations require events to occur with a certain likelihood. These sorts of simulations are called Monte Carlo simulations because the results depend on “chance” probabilities. nnDo you remember the chaos program from

chapter 1? The apparent randomness of the result came from repeatedly applying a function to generate a sequence of numbers. nnA similar approach is used to generate

random (technically pseudorandom) numbers. nnA pseudorandom number generator works by starting with a seed value. This value is given to a function to produce a “random” number. nnThe next time a random number is required, the current value is fed back into the function to produce a new number.

nnThis sequence of numbers appears to be random, but if you start the process over again with the same seed number, you’ll get the same sequence of “random” numbers. nnPython provides a library module that contains a number of functions for working with pseudorandom numbers.

nnThese functions derive an initial seed value from the computer’s date and time when the module is loaded, so each time a program is run a different sequence of random numbers is produced. nnThe two functions of greatest interest are randrange and random.

nnThe randrange function is used to select a pseudorandom int from a given range.

nnThe syntax is similar to that of the range command.

nnrandrange(1,6) returns some number

from [1,2,3,4,5] and randrange(5,105,5) returns a multiple of 5 between 5 and 100, inclusive. nnRanges go up to, but don’t include, the stopping value.

nnEach call to randrange generates a new

pseudorandom int.

>>> from random import randrange

>>> randrange(1,6)


>>> randrange(1,6)


>>> randrange(1,6)


>>> randrange(1,6)


>>> randrange(1,6)


>>> randrange(1,6)


>>> randrange(1,6)


nnThe value 5 comes up over half the time, demonstrating the probabilistic nature of random numbers. nnOver time, this function will produce a uniform distribution, which means that all values will appear an approximately equal number of times.

nnThe random function is used to generate pseudorandom floating point values. nnIt takes no parameters and returns values uniformly distributed between 0 and 1 (including 0 but excluding 1).

>>> from random import random

>>> random()


>>> random()


>>> random()


>>> random()


>>> random()


>>> random()


>>> random()


nnThe racquetball simulation makes use of the random function to determine if a player has won a serve. nnSuppose a player’s service probability is 70%, or 0.70. nnif :    score = score + 1

nnWe need to insert a probabilistic function that will succeed 70% of the time.

nnSuppose we generate a random number between 0 and 1. Exactly 70% of the interval 0..1 is to the left of 0.7. nnSo 70% of the time the random number will be < 0.7, and it will be ≥ 0.7 the other 30% of the time. (The = goes on the upper end since the random number generator can produce a 0 but not a 1.)

nnIf prob represents the probability of winning the server, the condition random() < prob will succeed with the correct probability.

nnif random() < prob:     score = score + 1

Top-Down Design

nnIn top-down design, a complex problem is expressed as a solution in terms of smaller, simpler problems. nnThese smaller problems are then solved by expressing them in terms of smaller, simpler problems. nnThis continues until the problems are trivial to solve. The little pieces are then put back together as a solution to the original problem!

nnTypically a program uses the input, process, output pattern. nnThe algorithm for the racquetball


Print an introduction

Get the inputs: probA, probB, n

Simulate n games of racquetball using probA and probB

Print a report on the wins for playerA and playerB

nnIs this design too high level? Whatever we don’t know how to do, we’ll ignore for now. nnAssume that all the components needed to implement the algorithm have been written already, and that your task is to finish this top-level algorithm using those components.

nnFirst we print an introduction. nnThis is easy, and we don’t want to bother with it. nndef main():


nnWe assume that there’s a printIntro function that prints the instructions!

nnThe next step is to get the inputs. nnWe know how to do that! Let’s assume there’s already a component that can do that called getInputs.

nngetInputs gets the values for probA, probB, and n.

nndef main():


    probA, probB, n = getInputs()

nnNow we need to simulate n games of racquetball using the values of probA and probB. nnHow would we do that? We can put off writing this code by putting it into a function, simNGames, and add a call to this function in main.

nnIf you were going to simulate the game by

hand, what inputs would you need?

nnprobA nnprobB nnn

nnWhat values would you need to get back?

nnThe number of games won by player A nnThe number of games won by player B

nnThese must be the outputs from the simNGames function.

nnWe now know that the main program must look like this:

def main():    printIntro()

   probA, probB, n = getInputs()    winsA, winsB = simNGames(n, probA, probB)

nnWhat information would you need to be able to produce the output from the program? nnYou’d need to know how many wins there were for each player – these will be the inputs to the next function.

nnThe complete main program:

def main():    printIntro()

   probA, probB, n = getInputs()    winsA, winsB = simNGames(n, probA, probB)    printSummary(winsA, winsB)

nnThe original problem has now been

decomposed into four independent tasks:

nnprintIntro nngetInputs nnsimNGames nnprintSummary

nnThe name, parameters, and expected return values of these functions have been specified. This information is known as the interface or signature of the function.

nnHaving this information (the signatures), allows us to work on each of these pieces indepently.

nnFor example, as far as main is concerned, how simNGames works is not a concern as long as passing the number of games and player probabilities to simNGames causes it to return the correct number of wins for each player.

nnIn a structure chart (or module hierarchy), each component in the design is a rectangle. nnA line connecting two rectangles indicates that the one above uses the one below. nnThe arrows and annotations show the interfaces between the components.


nnAt each level of design, the interface tells us which details of the lower level are important. nnThe general process of determining the important characteristics of something and ignoring other details is called abstraction. nnThe top-down design process is a systematic method for discovering useful abstractions.

nnThe next step is to repeat the process for each of the modules defined in the previous step!

nnThe printIntro function should print an introduction to the program. The code for this is straightforward.

def printIntro():

    # Prints an introduction to the program

    print("This program simulates a game of racquetball between two")     print('players called "A" and "B".  The abilities of each player is')     print("indicated by a probability (a number between 0 and 1) that")     print("the player wins the point when serving. Player A always")     print("has the first serve.\n“)

nnIn the second line, since we wanted double quotes around A and B, the string is enclosed in apostrophes.

nnSince there are no new functions, there are no changes to the structure chart.

nnIn getInputs, we prompt for and get three values, which are returned to the main program.

 def getInputs():

    # RETURNS probA, probB, number of games to simulate     a = eval(input("What is the prob. player A wins a serve? "))     b = eval(input("What is the prob. player B wins a serve? "))     n = eval(input("How many games to simulate? "))     return a, b, n

nnThis function simulates n games and keeps track of how many wins there are for each player.

nn“Simulate n games” sound like a counted loop, and tracking wins sounds like a good job for accumulator variables.

nnInitialize winsA and winsB to 0

loop n times    simulate a game    if playerA wins

      Add one to winsA


      Add one to winsB

nnWe already have the function signature:

def simNGames(n, probA, probB):

   # Simulates n games of racquetball between players A and B

   # RETURNS number of wins for A, number of wins for B

nnWith this information, it’s easy to get started!

def simNGames(n, probA, probB):

    # Simulates n games of racquetball between players A and B

    # RETURNS number of wins for A, number of wins for B

    winsA = 0     winsB = 0     for i in range(n):

nnThe next thing we need to do is simulate a game of racquetball. We’re not sure how to do that, so let’s put it off until later! nnLet’s assume there’s a function called

simOneGame that can do it.

nnThe inputs to simOneGame are easy – the probabilities for each player. But what is the output?

nnWe need to know who won the game. How can we get this information? nnThe easiest way is to pass back the final

score. nnThe player with the higher score wins and gets their accumulator incremented by one.

def simNGames(n, probA, probB):

    # Simulates n games of racquetball between players A and B

    # RETURNS number of wins for A, number of wins for B     winsA = winsB = 0     for i in range(n):

        scoreA, scoreB = simOneGame(probA, probB)         if scoreA > scoreB:             winsA = winsA + 1         else:

            winsB = winsB + 1     return winsA, winsB


nnThe next function we need to write is simOneGame, where the logic of the racquetball rules lies. nnPlayers keep doing rallies until the

game is over, which implies the use of an indefinite loop, since we don’t know ahead of time how many rallies there will be before the game is over.

Third-Level Design

nnWe also need to keep track of the score and who’s serving. The score will be two accumulators, so how do we keep track of who’s serving? nnOne approach is to use a string value that alternates between “A” or “B”.

nnInitialize scores to 0

Set serving to “A”

Loop while game is not over:

   Simulate one serve of whichever player is serving

   update the status of the game Return scores nnDef simOneGame(probA, probB):

   scoreA = 0    scoreB = 0    serving = “A”    while :

nnWhat will the condition be?? Let’s take the

two scores and pass them to another function that returns True if the game is over, False if not.

Third-Level Design


nnAt this point, simOneGame looks like

this:  nndef simOneGame(probA, probB):

    # Simulates a single game or racquetball between players A and B

    # RETURNS A's final score, B's final score     serving = "A“     scoreA = 0     scoreB = 0     while not gameOver(scoreA, scoreB):

nnInside the loop, we need to do a single serve. We’ll compare a random number to the provided probability to determine if the server wins the point (random() < prob).

nnThe probability we use is determined by whom is serving, contained in the variable serving.

nnIf A is serving, then we use A’s

probability, and based on the result of the serve, either update A’s score or change the service to B.

nnif serving == "A":

     if random() < probA:         scoreA = scoreA + 1      else:         serving = "B"

nnLikewise, if it’s B’s serve, we’ll do the same thing with a mirror image of the code.

nnif serving == "A":

     if random() < probA:         scoreA = scoreA + 1      else:         serving = "B“  else:      if random() < probB:         scoreB = scoreB + 1      else:         serving = "A"

Putting the function together:

def simOneGame(probA, probB):

       # Simulates a single game or racquetball between players A and B

       # RETURNS A's final score, B's final score        serving = "A"        scoreA = 0        scoreB = 0        while not gameOver(scoreA, scoreB):            if serving == "A":                if random() < probA:                    scoreA = scoreA + 1                else:

                   serving = "B"            else:                if random() < probB:                    scoreB = scoreB + 1                else:                    serving = "A"        return scoreA, scoreB

Finishing Up

nnThere’s just one tricky function left, gameOver. Here’s what we know:

 def gameOver(a,b):     # a and b are scores for players in a racquetball game

    # RETURNS true if game is over, false otherwise

nnAccording to the rules, the game is over when either player reaches 15 points. We can check for this with the boolean: a==15 or b==15

Finishing Up

nnSo, the complete code for gameOver looks like this:

def gameOver(a,b):

    # a and b are scores for players in a racquetball game

    # RETURNS true if game is over, false otherwise     return a == 15 or b == 15 nnprintSummary is equally simple!

def printSummary(winsA, winsB):

    # Prints a summary of wins for each player.     n = winsA + winsB     print "\nGames simulated:", n

    print "Wins for A: {0} ({1:0.1%})".format(winsA, winsA)/n)     print "Wins for B: {0} ({1:0.1%})".format(winsB, winsB/n) nnNotice %  formatting on the output

Summary of the Design Process

nnWe started at the highest level of our structure chart and worked our way down. nnAt each level, we began with a general algorithm and refined it into precise code. nnThis process is sometimes referred to as step-wise refinement.

Summary of the Design Process

1.      Express the algorithm as a series of smaller problems.

2.      Develop an interface for each of the small problems.

3.      Detail the algorithm by expressing it in terms of its interfaces with the smaller problems.

4.      Repeat the process for each smaller problem.

Bottom-Up Implementation

nnEven though we’ve been careful with the design, there’s no guarantee we haven’t introduced some silly errors. nnImplementation is best done in small pieces.

nnA good way to systematically test the implementation of a modestly sized program is to start at the lowest levels of the structure, testing each component as it’s completed. nnFor example, we can import our program and execute various routines/functions to ensure they work properly.

nnWe could start with the gameOver function.

nn>>> import rball

>>> rball.gameOver(0,0)


>>> rball.gameOver(5,10)


>>> rball.gameOver(15,3)


>>> rball.gameOver(3,15)


nnNotice that we’ve tested gameOver for

all the important cases. nnWe gave it 0, 0 as inputs to simulate the

first time the function will be called. nnThe second test is in the middle of the game, and the function correctly reports that the game is not yet over. nnThe last two cases test to see what is reported when either player has won.

nnNow that we see that gameOver is working,

we can go on to simOneGame.

>>> simOneGame(.5, .5)

(11, 15)

>>> simOneGame(.5, .5) (13, 15)

>>> simOneGame(.3, .3)

(11, 15)

>>> simOneGame(.3, .3)

(15, 4)

>>> simOneGame(.4, .9) (2, 15)

>>> simOneGame(.4, .9)

(1, 15)

>>> simOneGame(.9, .4)

(15, 0)

>>> simOneGame(.9, .4) (15, 0)

>>> simOneGame(.4, .6)

(10, 15)

>>> simOneGame(.4, .6)

(9, 15)

nnWhen the probabilities are equal, the scores aren’t that far apart. nnWhen the probabilities are farther apart, the

game is a rout. nnTesting each component in this manner is called unit testing. nnTesting each function independently makes it easier to spot errors, and should make testing the entire program go more smoothly.

Simulation Results

nnIs it the nature of racquetball that small differences in ability lead to large differences in final score? nnSuppose Denny wins about 60% of his serves and his opponent is 5% better. How often should Denny win? nnLet’s do a sample run where Denny’s opponent serves first.

Simulation Results

This program simulates a game of racquetball between two players called "A" and "B".  The abilities of each player is indicated by a probability (a number between 0 and 1) that the player wins the point when serving. Player A always has the first serve.

What is the prob. player A wins a serve? .65

What is the prob. player B wins a serve? .6

How many games to simulate? 5000

Games simulated: 5000

Wins for A: 3329 (66.6%)

Wins for B: 1671 (33.4%)

nnWith this small difference in ability , Denny will win only 1 in 3 games!

Other Design Techniques

nnTop-down design is not the only way to create a program!

Spiral Development

nnAnother approach to program development is to start with a simple version of a program, and then gradually add features until it meets the full specification. nnThis initial stripped-down version is called a prototype.

Spiral Development

nnPrototyping often leads to a spiral

development process. nnRather than taking the entire problem and

proceeding through specification, design, implementation, and testing, we first design, implement, and test a prototype. We take many mini-cycles through the development process as the prototype is incrementally expanded into the final program.

Spiral Development

nnHow could the racquetball simulation been done using spiral development? nnWrite a prototype where you assume there’s a 50-50 chance of winning any given point, playing 30 rallies. nnAdd on to the prototype in stages, including awarding of points, change of service, differing probabilities, etc.

Spiral Development

from random import random

 def simOneGame():     scoreA = 0     scoreB = 0     serving = "A"     for i in range(30):         if serving == "A":             if random() < .5:                 scoreA = scoreA + 1             else:                 serving = "B"         else:             if random() < .5:                 scoreB = scoreB + 1             else:                 serving = "A"         print(scoreA, scoreB)

>>> simOneGame()

0 0

0 1

0 1 …

2 7

2 8

2   8

3   8

3 8

3 8

3 8

3 8

3 8

3 9

3   9

4   9

5   9

Spiral Development

nnThe program could be enhanced in


nnPhase 1: Initial prototype. Play 30 rallies where the server always has a 50% chance of winning. Print out the scores after each server.

nnPhase 2: Add two parameters to represent different probabilities for the two players.

Spiral Development

nnPhase 3: Play the game until one of the

players reaches 15 points. At this point, we have a working simulation of a single game.

nnPhase 4: Expand to play multiple games. The output is the count of games won by each player.

nnPhase 5: Build the complete program. Add interactive inputs and a nicely formatted report of the results.

Spiral Development

nnSpiral development is useful when dealing with new or unfamiliar features or technology. nnIf top-down design isn’t working for you, try some spiral development!

The Art of Design

nnSpiral development is not an alternative to top-down design as much as a complement to it – when designing the prototype you’ll still be using top-down techniques. nnGood design is as much creative process as science, and as such, there are no hard and fast rules.

The Art of Design

nnThe best advice?

nnPractice, practice, practice