Home » How to » How to randomize (shuffle) a JavaScript array?

How to randomize (shuffle) a JavaScript array?

Posted by: admin February 21, 2020 Leave a comment

Questions:

I have an array like this:

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

How can I randomize / shuffle it?

How to&Answers:

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

See https://github.com/coolaj86/knuth-shuffle

You can see a great visualization here (and the original post linked to this)

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

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

    // Pick a remaining element...
    randomIndex = Math.floor(Math.random() * currentIndex);
    currentIndex -= 1;

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

  return array;
}

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

Some more info about the algorithm used.

Answer:

Here is a JavaScript implementation of the Durstenfeld shuffle, a computer-optimized version of Fisher-Yates:

/**
 * Randomize array element order 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;
    }
}

The Fisher-Yates algorithm works by picking one random element for each original array element, and then excluding it from the next draw. Just like randomly picking from a deck of cards.

This exclusion is done in a clever way (invented by Durstenfeld for use by computers) by swapping the picked element with the current element, and then picking the next random element from the remainder. For optimal efficiency, the loop runs backwards so that the random pick is simplified (it can always start at 0), and it skips the last element because there are no other choices anymore.

The running time of this algorithm is O(n). Note that the shuffle is done in-place. So if you do not want to modify the original array, make a copy of it first with .slice(0).

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:

[community edit: This answer is incorrect; see comments. It is being left here for future reference because the idea is not that rare.]
[1,2,3,4,5,6].sort(function() {
  return .5 - Math.random();
});

Answer:

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:

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:

You can do it easily with map and sort:

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

let shuffled = unshuffled
  .map((a) => ({sort: Math.random(), value: a}))
  .sort((a, b) => a.sort - b.sort)
  .map((a) => a.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.

Answer:

NEW!

Shorter & probably *faster Fisher-Yates shuffle algorithm

  1. it uses while—
  2. bitwise to floor (numbers up to 10 decimal digits (32bit))
  3. removed unecessary closures & other stuff

function fy(a,b,c,d){//array,placeholder,placeholder,placeholder
 c=a.length;while(c)b=Math.random()*(--c+1)|0,d=a[c],a[c]=a[b],a[b]=d
}

script size (with fy as function name): 90bytes

DEMO
http://jsfiddle.net/vvpoma8w/

*faster probably on all browsers except chrome.

If you have any questions just ask.

EDIT

yes it is faster

PERFORMANCE: http://jsperf.com/fyshuffle

using the top voted functions.

EDIT
There was a calculation in excess (don’t need –c+1) and noone noticed

shorter(4bytes)&faster(test it!).

function fy(a,b,c,d){//array,placeholder,placeholder,placeholder
 c=a.length;while(c)b=Math.random()*c--|0,d=a[c],a[c]=a[b],a[b]=d
}

Caching somewhere else var rnd=Math.random and then use rnd() would also increase slightly the performance on big arrays.

http://jsfiddle.net/vvpoma8w/2/

Readable version (use the original version. this is slower, vars are useless, like the closures & “;”, the code itself is also shorter … maybe read this How to 'minify' Javascript code , btw you are not able to compress the following code in a javascript minifiers like the above one.)

function fisherYates( array ){
 var count = array.length,
     randomnumber,
     temp;
 while( count ){
  randomnumber = Math.random() * count-- | 0;
  temp = array[count];
  array[count] = array[randomnumber];
  array[randomnumber] = temp
 }
}

Answer:

Edit: This answer is incorrect

See comments and https://stackoverflow.com/a/18650169/28234. It is being left here for reference because the idea isn’t rare.


A very simple way for small arrays is simply this:

const someArray = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5];

someArray.sort(() => Math.random() - 0.5);

It’s probably not very efficient, but for small arrays this works just fine. Here’s an example so you can see how random (or not) it is, and whether it fits your usecase or not.

const resultsEl = document.querySelector('#results');
const buttonEl = document.querySelector('#trigger');

const generateArrayAndRandomize = () => {
  const someArray = [0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9];
  someArray.sort(() => Math.random() - 0.5);
  return someArray;
};

const renderResultsToDom = (results, el) => {
  el.innerHTML = results.join(' ');
};

buttonEl.addEventListener('click', () => renderResultsToDom(generateArrayAndRandomize(), resultsEl));
<h1>Randomize!</h1>
<button id="trigger">Generate</button>
<p id="results">0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9</p>

Answer:

Reliable, Effecient, Short

Some solutions on this page aren’t reliable (they only partially randomise the array). Other solutions are significantly less effecient. With testShuffleArrayFun (see below) we can test array shuffling functions for reliability and performance.
The following solutions are: reliable, effecient and short (using ES6 syntax)

[Comparison tests were done using testShuffleArrayFun against other solutions, in Google Chrome]

Shuffle Array In place

    function getShuffledArr (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

As you can see in this page, there have been incorrect solutions offered here in the past. I wrote and have used the following function to test any pure (no side effects) array randomizing functions.

    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]
        )
    }

Answer:

Edit: This answer is incorrect

See https://stackoverflow.com/a/18650169/28234. It is being left here for reference because the idea isn’t rare.

//one line solution
shuffle = (array) => array.sort(() => Math.random() - 0.5);


//Demo
let arr = [1, 2, 3];
shuffle(arr);
alert(arr);

https://javascript.info/task/shuffle

Math.random() - 0.5 is a random number that may be positive or
negative, so the sorting function reorders elements randomly.

Answer:

Adding to @Laurens Holsts answer. This is 50% compressed.

function shuffleArray(d) {
  for (var c = d.length - 1; c > 0; c--) {
    var b = Math.floor(Math.random() * (c + 1));
    var a = d[c];
    d[c] = d[b];
    d[b] = a;
  }
  return d
};

Answer:

With ES2015 you can use this one:

Array.prototype.shuffle = function() {
  let m = this.length, i;
  while (m) {
    i = (Math.random() * m--) >>> 0;
    [this[m], this[i]] = [this[i], this[m]]
  }
  return this;
}

Usage:

[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7].shuffle();

Answer:

I found this variant hanging out in the “deleted by author” answers on a duplicate of this question. Unlike some of the other answers that have many upvotes already, this is:

  1. Actually random
  2. Not in-place (hence the shuffled name rather than shuffle)
  3. Not already present here with multiple variants

Here’s a jsfiddle showing it in use.

Array.prototype.shuffled = function() {
  return this.map(function(n){ return [Math.random(), n] })
             .sort().map(function(n){ return n[1] });
}

Answer:

var shuffle = function(array) {
   temp = [];
   originalLength = array.length;
   for (var i = 0; i < originalLength; i++) {
     temp.push(array.splice(Math.floor(Math.random()*array.length),1));
   }
   return temp;
};

Answer:

You can do it easily with:

// array
var fruits = ["Banana", "Orange", "Apple", "Mango"];
// random
fruits.sort(function(a, b){return 0.5 - Math.random()});
// out
console.log(fruits);

Please reference at JavaScript Sorting Arrays

Answer:

A recursive solution:

function shuffle(a,b){
    return a.length==0?b:function(c){
        return shuffle(a,(b||[]).concat(c));
    }(a.splice(Math.floor(Math.random()*a.length),1));
};

Answer:

Fisher-Yates shuffle in javascript. I’m posting this here because the use of two utility functions (swap and randInt) clarifies the algorithm compared to the other answers here.

function swap(arr, i, j) { 
  // swaps two elements of an array in place
  var temp = arr[i];
  arr[i] = arr[j];
  arr[j] = temp;
}
function randInt(max) { 
  // returns random integer between 0 and max-1 inclusive.
  return Math.floor(Math.random()*max);
}
function shuffle(arr) {
  // For each slot in the array (starting at the end), 
  // pick an element randomly from the unplaced elements and
  // place it in the slot, exchanging places with the 
  // element in the slot. 
  for(var slot = arr.length - 1; slot > 0; slot--){
    var element = randInt(slot+1);
    swap(arr, element, slot);
  }
}

Answer:

First of all, have a look here for a great visual comparison of different sorting methods in javascript.

Secondly, if you have a quick look at the link above you’ll find that the random order sort seems to perform relatively well compared to the other methods, while being extremely easy and fast to implement as shown below:

function shuffle(array) {
  var random = array.map(Math.random);
  array.sort(function(a, b) {
    return random[array.indexOf(a)] - random[array.indexOf(b)];
  });
}

Edit: as pointed out by @gregers, the compare function is called with values rather than indices, which is why you need to use indexOf. Note that this change makes the code less suitable for larger arrays as indexOf runs in O(n) time.

Answer:

a shuffle function that doesn’t change the source array

Update: Here I’m suggesting a relatively simple (not from complexity perspective) and short algorithm that will do just fine with small sized arrays, but it’s definitely going to cost a lot more than the classic Durstenfeld algorithm when you deal with huge arrays. You can find the Durstenfeld in one of the top replies to this question.

Original answer:

If you don’t wish your shuffle function to mutate the source array, you can copy it to a local variable, then do the rest with a simple shuffling logic.

function shuffle(array) {
  var result = [], source = array.concat([]);

  while (source.length) {
    let index = Math.floor(Math.random() * source.length);
    result.push(source[index]);
    source.splice(index, 1);
  }

  return result;
}

Shuffling logic: pick up a random index, then add the corresponding element to the result array and delete it from the source array copy. Repeat this action until the source array gets empty.

And if you really want it short, here’s how far I could get:

function shuffle(array) {
  var result = [], source = array.concat([]);

  while (source.length) {
    let index = Math.floor(Math.random() * source.length);
    result.push(source.splice(index, 1)[0]);
  }

  return result;
}

Answer:

arr1.sort(() => Math.random() - 0.5);

Answer:

yet another implementation of Fisher-Yates, using strict mode:

function shuffleArray(a) {
    "use strict";
    var i, t, j;
    for (i = a.length - 1; i > 0; i -= 1) {
        t = a[i];
        j = Math.floor(Math.random() * (i + 1));
        a[i] = a[j];
        a[j] = t;
    }
    return a;
}

Answer:

All the other answers are based on Math.random() which is fast but not suitable for cryptgraphic level randomization.

The below code is using the well known Fisher-Yates algorithm while utilizing Web Cryptography API for cryptographic level of randomization.

var d = [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10];

function shuffle(a) {
	var x, t, r = new Uint32Array(1);
	for (var i = 0, c = a.length - 1, m = a.length; i < c; i++, m--) {
		crypto.getRandomValues(r);
		x = Math.floor(r / 65536 / 65536 * m) + i;
		t = a [i], a [i] = a [x], a [x] = t;
	}

	return a;
}

console.log(shuffle(d));

Answer:

Modern short inline solution using ES6 features:

['a','b','c','d'].map(x => [Math.random(), x]).sort(([a], [b]) => a - b).map(([_, x]) => x);

(for educational purposes)

Answer:

A simple modification of CoolAJ86’s answer that does not modify the original array:

 /**
 * Returns a new array whose contents are a shuffled copy of the original array.
 * @param {Array} The items to shuffle.
 * https://stackoverflow.com/a/2450976/1673761
 * https://stackoverflow.com/a/44071316/1673761
 */
const shuffle = (array) => {
  let currentIndex = array.length;
  let temporaryValue;
  let randomIndex;
  const newArray = array.slice();
  // While there remains elements to shuffle...
  while (currentIndex) {
    randomIndex = Math.floor(Math.random() * currentIndex);
    currentIndex -= 1;
    // Swap it with the current element.
    temporaryValue = newArray[currentIndex];
    newArray[currentIndex] = newArray[randomIndex];
    newArray[randomIndex] = temporaryValue;
  }
  return newArray;
};

Answer:

Though there are a number of implementations already advised but I feel we can make it shorter and easier using forEach loop, so we don’t need to worry about calculating array length and also we can safely avoid using a temporary variable.

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

myArr.forEach((val, key) => {
  randomIndex = Math.ceil(Math.random()*(key + 1));
  myArr[key] = myArr[randomIndex];
  myArr[randomIndex] = val;
});
// see the values
console.log('Shuffled Array: ', myArr)

Answer:

Just to have a finger in the pie. Here i present a recursive implementation of Fisher Yates shuffle (i think). It gives uniform randomness.

Note: The ~~ (double tilde operator) is in fact behaves like Math.floor() for positive real numbers. Just a short cut it is.

var shuffle = a => a.length ? a.splice(~~(Math.random()*a.length),1).concat(shuffle(a))
                            : a;

console.log(JSON.stringify(shuffle([0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9])));

Edit: The above code is O(n^2) due to the employment of .splice() but we can eliminate splice and shuffle in O(n) by the swap trick.

var shuffle = (a, l = a.length, r = ~~(Math.random()*l)) => l ? ([a[r],a[l-1]] = [a[l-1],a[r]], shuffle(a, l-1))
                                                              : a;

var arr = Array.from({length:3000}, (_,i) => i);
console.time("shuffle");
shuffle(arr);
console.timeEnd("shuffle");

The problem is, JS can not coop on with big recursions. In this particular case you array size is limited with like 3000~7000 depending on your browser engine and some unknown facts.

Answer:

the shortest arrayShuffle function

function arrayShuffle(o) {
    for(var j, x, i = o.length; i; j = parseInt(Math.random() * i), x = o[--i], o[i] = o[j], o[j] = x);
    return o;
}

Answer:

From a theoretical point of view, the most elegant way of doing it, in my humble opinion, is to get a single random number between 0 and n!-1 and to compute a one to one mapping from {0, 1, …, n!-1} to all permutations of (0, 1, 2, …, n-1). As long as you can use a (pseudo-)random generator reliable enough for getting such a number without any significant bias, you have enough information in it for achieving what you want without needing several other random numbers.

When computing with IEEE754 double precision floating numbers, you can expect your random generator to provide about 15 decimals. Since you have 15!=1,307,674,368,000 (with 13 digits), you can use the following functions with arrays containing up to 15 elements and assume there will be no significant bias with arrays containing up to 14 elements. If you work on a fixed-size problem requiring to compute many times this shuffle operation, you may want to try the following code which may be faster than other codes since it uses Math.random only once (it involves several copy operations however).

The following function will not be used, but I give it anyway; it returns the index of a given permutation of (0, 1, 2, …, n-1) according to the one to one mapping used in this message (the most natural one when enumerating permuations); it is intended to work with up to 16 elements:

function permIndex(p) {
    var fact = [1, 1, 2, 6, 24, 120, 720, 5040, 40320, 362880, 3628800, 39916800, 479001600, 6227020800, 87178291200, 1307674368000];
    var tail = [];
    var i;
    if (p.length == 0) return 0;
    for(i=1;i<(p.length);i++) {
        if (p[i] > p[0]) tail.push(p[i]-1);
        else tail.push(p[i]);
    }
    return p[0] * fact[p.length-1] + permIndex(tail);
}

The reciprocal of the previous function (required for your own question) is below; it is intended to work with up to 16 elements; it returns the permutation of order n of (0, 1, 2, …, s-1):

function permNth(n, s) {
    var fact = [1, 1, 2, 6, 24, 120, 720, 5040, 40320, 362880, 3628800, 39916800, 479001600, 6227020800, 87178291200, 1307674368000];
    var i, j;
    var p = [];
    var q = [];
    for(i=0;i<s;i++) p.push(i);
    for(i=s-1; i>=0; i--) {
        j = Math.floor(n / fact[i]);
        n -= j*fact[i];
        q.push(p[j]);
        for(;j<i;j++) p[j]=p[j+1];
    }
    return q;
}

Now, what you want merely is:

function shuffle(p) {
    var fact = [1, 1, 2, 6, 24, 120, 720, 5040, 40320, 362880, 3628800, 39916800, 479001600, 6227020800, 87178291200, 1307674368000, 20922789888000];
    return permNth(Math.floor(Math.random()*fact[p.length]), p.length).map(
            function(i) { return p[i]; });
}

It should work for up to 16 elements with a little theoretical bias (though unnoticeable from a practical point of view); it can be seen as fully usable for 15 elements; with arrays containing less than 14 elements, you can safely consider there will be absolutely no bias.

Answer:

Funny enough there was no non mutating recursive answer:

var shuffle = arr => {
  const recur = (arr,currentIndex)=>{
    console.log("What?",JSON.stringify(arr))
    if(currentIndex===0){
      return arr;
    }
    const randomIndex = Math.floor(Math.random() * currentIndex);
    const swap = arr[currentIndex];
    arr[currentIndex] = arr[randomIndex];
    arr[randomIndex] = swap;
    return recur(
      arr,
      currentIndex - 1
    );
  }
  return recur(arr.map(x=>x),arr.length-1);
};

var arr = [1,2,3,4,5,[6]];
console.log(shuffle(arr));
console.log(arr);

Answer:

Array.prototype.shuffle=function(){
   var len = this.length,temp,i
   while(len){
    i=Math.random()*len-- |0;
    temp=this[len],this[len]=this[i],this[i]=temp;
   }
   return this;
}