File APIs for Java Developers
Manipulate DOC, XLS, PPT, PDF and many others from your application.
The moose likes Java in General and the fly likes How do i get all subsets? Big Moose Saloon
  Search | Java FAQ | Recent Topics | Flagged Topics | Hot Topics | Zero Replies
Register / Login
JavaRanch » Java Forums » Java » Java in General
Bookmark "How do i get all subsets?" Watch "How do i get all subsets?" New topic

How do i get all subsets?

Charlie Goth
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 26, 2004
Posts: 60
Is there a way of getting all subsets from a Set? I've tried writing it myself but its doing me head in, and making me think I'm not cut out for this programming

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

SCJP (77%)
Stefan Krompass
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 29, 2004
Posts: 75

are you sure you need the power set of a set? Be aware that the power set will get huge very quickly. For a set with more than 20 to 30 entires, it will definitely not be representable with any normal Java data structure, and you'll run out of memory long, long before then.
But if you're sure that you need the power set, you might try it with recursion...

Charlie Goth
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 26, 2004
Posts: 60
Yes I need it, its for calculating the winnings of 'canadian' style bets, that is bets on A, B, C, AB, AC, BC & ABC.
Michael Dunn
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 09, 2003
Posts: 4632
David Weitzman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 27, 2001
Posts: 1365
If you're willing to use iteration here's a technique that often works nicely:

There is a correspondence between binary numbers and subsets of a given set. Suppose I have a set of things {A, B, C}. I'll say that the subset {A, B, C} corresponds to the binary number 111, {A, C} corresponds to 101, {} corresponds to 000. If I've got an ordering of the items I can just say that a 1 means the item is in a set and 0 means it isn't simple enough.

Now if we want to iterate through all subsets of {A, B, C} we can just count the numbers from 000 to 111. Here's what the code might look like (I haven't tested it, so assume there are bugs):

[ August 08, 2004: Message edited by: David Weitzman ]
I agree. Here's the link:
subject: How do i get all subsets?
It's not a secret anymore!