Assignment 3 String processing functions


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// ~ Overview ~ //

This assignment uses some more advanced string processing functions to
introduce arrays of pointers.

// ~ Learning Goals ~ //

(1) Know how to write your own main(…) function to test your code as
you go.
(2) Understand how to edit values outside of a function by passing
pointers to those values.
(3) Be confident with using malloc and free to manage memory.
(4) Understand how to work with arrays of pointers.
(5) Understand the C library function “qsort”

// ~ Working on main.c ~ //

The main.c file can be compiled into a program as follows:

gcc -Wall -Wshadow -g main.c -o a.out

It contains a “swapString(…)” function that does not work. You are
required to fix this function. This is a relatively small task, but it
is illustrative.

The main.c file has nothing to do with the rest of the assignment.

// ~ Filling in answer03.c ~ //

The file “answer03.h” contains the definitions of the functions that
you must write to pass the assignment. These functions need to be
created in a file called “answer03.c”. This file must not have a
main(…) function. You should create your own main function in its
own file (not in main.c), in order to test your code.

You will save yourself a LOT of time if you test your code as you
write it. Test every part of every function as you write it.

// ~ Determining Your Mark ~ //

This assignment is pass or fail. You pass if everything works, and
fail if there is one or more things wrong. You can use the tester to
find mistakes in answer03.c. The main.c file will be marked


Remember, the tester must be run on the ECE lab computers, and it
should not be run until after you are 100% confident that you already
have the correct answer to all the problems.

// ~ FAQ ~ //

(*) Why pass char * * in strcat_ex?

Pay close attention to the section in the course notes on the swap
function. It is important to appreciate that a function can never
edit a value outside of itself unless you pass a pointer. So swap(int,
int) can never work. You must write swap(int *, int *).

The same thinking goes for strcat_ex(char * * dest, int * n, const
char * src).

The amount of bytes available at dest (stored at address n) may not be
enough to store the final concatenated string. So you need to do a new
malloc, and then update the value of *dest, and also *n. That means
that strcat_ex(…) must be able to edit these values from inside its
function body. There is no way to do this without passing a pointer to
these values.

If you want to edit an int value, then you must pass an int *.

If you want to edit a char * value, then you must pass a char * *.


Please attend the help session for a clear explanation and a diagram of
what this looks like.

(*) Help, explode(…) is killing me, what do I do?

First you need to figure out how many delimiter characters appear in
the string. You do this by calling strchr(delims, str[ind]) on each
character in ‘str’. If you get NULL, then str[ind] is not a
delimiter. If you get non-NULL, then that character is a delimiter.

The return result of explode(…) is an array of strings. A string is
char *, so an array of strings is char * *. If there are N delimiters
in ‘str’, then the returned array must have space for (N+1) strings.

So why is it (N+1)? If the string has no delimiters, then you just
return the string. If it has 1 delimiter, then you split it in one
place, and get two strings. If there are two delimiters, split it in
two places to get three strings. In general, the presence of N
delimiters means you split the string in N places to (N+1) strings.

The pseudo-code so far looks like this:

// Count how many delimiters are in ‘str’
int N = 0;
for each character in ‘str’ {
if strchr(delims, str[ind]) != NULL then increment N

// Create the return array
char * * strArr = malloc((N+1) * sizeof(char *));

Before proceeding, TEST YOUR CODE, to make sure it works perfectly so

Okay, now we have allocated some memory for the return result, we must
fill it in. To do this, we need to keep track of _two_ indices, call
them “last” and “ind”. You want “last” to point to 1 past the last
observed delimiter, and “ind” to point to the current character we are
looking at.

The following pseudo-code explains how to use these two indices to
initialize the first N strings in strArr:

arrInd = 0; // this is the next position where we’ll create a string
last = 0; // 1 + the last index we saw a delimiter. Init to 0.
for each ind from [0..strlen(str)), do {
if str[ind] is a delimiter, then… {
create a new string that spans the characters [last..ind)
set strArr[arrInd] to that new string.
set last to ind + 1.
increment arrInd

Before proceeding, TEST YOUR CODE, to make sure it works perfectly so

Okay we’ve initialized the first N string, but we still have to do the
(N+1)th string. This is done in the same way as above:

// just take the remaining characters of the string
create a new string that spans the characters [last..strlen(str))
set strArr[N] to the new string.

Do not forget that you must store the length of strArr at the memory
location *arrLen. You need to do this so that when someone calls
explode(…), they will be able to know how long the returned string
array is.

You will save yourself a lot of time if you write and test this code


(*) Okay, I’m done, but what about this git.log file?

cd into *your* working repository, and type the following:

git log

You should see a stream of text float across the screen. The text is a
log of git activities. If you read through it, you should see all of
your commit statements.

To create the “git.log” file, use a “redirect” to direct the text from
screen into a file:

git log git.log

Now cat the file to make sure everything is okay. (You now know what
cat is, right??)

cat git.log

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