 Wintus
9/18/2012 - 6:26 PM

## Implementing a Reverse Polish Notation Calculator in Ruby

Implementing a Reverse Polish Notation Calculator in Ruby

## Implementing a Reverse Polish notation calculator in Ruby

A couple weeks ago I had a go at implementing an RPN calculator in Ruby. I knew I wanted the calculator to function by popping operands out of an array populated with the values of the input expression, operating upon the operands with the appropriate operator, and pushing the result back into the stack of operands.

I was able to implement this in version 1, but it took forever and the resulting code was not very beautiful. Why?

• I started coding before I had a thorough understanding of RPN

Wait, `20 10 5 4 + * -` is what now?

• I also jumped into coding before doing research on potentially relevant public methods

Oh hey there,`#send` and `#eval`. Guess I can delete all those instance methods I created for each operator ...

• Also, I am a noob.

### RPN calculator, version 1 (the long, ugly one):

``````class RPNCalculator
# Define methods for addition, multiplication, and subtraction
def sum(array)
result = 0
array.each do |i|
result += i.to_i
end
result
end

def product(array)
result = 1
array.each do |i|
result *= i.to_i
end
result
end

def difference(array)
if array.length < 2
0
else
array.to_i - array.to_i
end
end

# Define a method which evaluates an expression in RPN
def evaluate(expression)
expression_array = expression.split
operands = []

if expression_array.length == 1
evaluation = expression_array
end

expression_array.each do |i|
if i.match(/[0-9]/) != nil
operands.push(i)
elsif i == "+"
operands.push(sum(operands.pop(2)))
elsif i == "*"
operands.push(product(operands.pop(2)))
elsif i == "-"
operands.push(difference(operands.pop(2)))
end
end
puts operands
end
end

``````

When I wrote version 2 of the calculator, I had two goals: To make it shorter and more elegant, and to augment its functionality by including division and exponentiation.

Et voilà!

### RPN calculator, version 2:

``````class RPNCalculator
def evaluate(expression)
expression = expression.split
operands = []
evaluation = []

expression.each do |x|
case x
when /\d/
evaluation.push(x.to_f)
when "-", "/", "*", "+", "**"
operands = evaluation.pop(2)
evaluation.push(operands.send(x, operands))
end
end
puts evaluation
end
end

``````