Cracking Anagrams with Ruby: Detecting String Twins through Character Frequencies

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Anagrams, words or phrases formed by rearranging the letters of another, offer an intriguing challenge in programming. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore anagram detection in Ruby. Our goal is to create a Ruby function that checks if two strings are anagrams of each other by comparing the frequencies of their characters. We will provide step-by-step examples and real-world outputs to help you master this essential string manipulation technique.

Introduction to Anagram Detection

An anagram is a word or phrase formed by rearranging the letters of another word or phrase. Detecting anagrams involves comparing the characters and their frequencies in two strings to determine if they share the same set of characters in the same quantities.

Implementing Anagram Detection in Ruby

Let’s start by creating a Ruby function named are_anagrams that checks if two strings are anagrams. Here’s the code:

def are_anagrams(str1, str2)
  # Remove spaces and convert to lowercase
  str1 = str1.gsub(/\s+/, '').downcase
  str2 = str2.gsub(/\s+/, '').downcase
  # Check if the lengths of both strings are equal
  return false if str1.length != str2.length
  # Create hashes to store character frequencies
  char_count1 =
  char_count2 =
  # Populate char_count1
  str1.each_char do |char|
    char_count1[char] += 1
  # Populate char_count2
  str2.each_char do |char|
    char_count2[char] += 1
  # Compare the character frequencies
  char_count1 == char_count2

In this function:

  • We remove spaces and convert both input strings to lowercase to ensure case insensitivity and eliminate spaces.
  • We check if the lengths of the processed strings are equal. If they are not, the strings cannot be anagrams, and we return false.
  • We create two hash tables, char_count1 and char_count2, to store character frequencies for each string. We initialize these hash tables with default values of 0.
  • We populate char_count1 and char_count2 by iterating through the characters in the strings and updating their frequencies.
  • Finally, we compare the two hash tables to check if they have the same character frequencies. If they do, the strings are anagrams, and we return true. Otherwise, we return false.

Using the are_anagrams Function

Now that we have our are_anagrams function, let’s use it to check if two strings are anagrams. Here’s an example:

str1 = "listen"
str2 = "silent"
if are_anagrams(str1, str2)
  puts "'#{str1}' and '#{str2}' are anagrams."
  puts "'#{str1}' and '#{str2}' are not anagrams."

When you run this Ruby code, it will output:

'listen' and 'silent' are anagrams.

Handling Edge Cases

It’s important to handle edge cases when working with anagram detection. For example, you should consider cases where one string is an empty string or when the input strings contain special characters or non-alphabetic characters.

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Author: user