Have students code boundary condition test to handle removing adjacent duplicates to help them better understand data structures and become familiar with common bugs through practice.

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  • It’s important that students gain hands-on experience manipulating data structures so they learn how to handle the common pitfalls.
    • This experience helps to build competency and fluency so students can successfully manipulate data structures in the future.
  • Ask students to write codes for test cases.
    • You can split students into groups and assign one test case per group.
    • You can assign each student to write all test cases.
    • You can work as a class to collectively write all the test cases.
  • Choose the data structures that best meets your course content needs.
    • The example below uses an array.
  • The eight test cases (i.e., boundary conditions) students need to consider are as follows:
    • Ending with a non-duplicate
    • Starting with a duplicate
    • Duplicates only in the middle
    • A array of one element
    • A longer array with all duplicates
    • A longer array with no duplicates
    • An empty array
      • A null array is not possible.
    • A single element between sequences of duplicates
      • For example, the array [2, 3, 55, 3, 3, 16, 16, 16] is an array with duplicates at the end and in the middle.
    • Note from the CS Teaching Tips Team: for more on how to get you class working on boundary test cases check out this tip
  • Extend this assignment by adding on a refactoring activity:
    • Gather all the code in once place.
    • Have students refactor the gathered test cases into a single method.
      • The goal is to end with a single algorithm that can be used to remove duplicates in arrays efficiently and effectively.
    • Note: If you assigned each group one test case, they may have inadvertently created test cases that deal with more than the case they were assigned.
      • Use this as a teaching opportunity and a talking point for group discussion.
    • Solutions should look similar to one of the following sample solution methods:
      • Sample Method 1: public void removeAdjacentDuplicates ( ) {     int k = 0;     while (k < myCount) {         if (k < myCount-1 && myValues[k] == myValues[k+1]) {             remove (k+1); // it updates myCount         } else {             k = k+1;         }     }     return this; }
      • Sample Method 2: public void removeAdjacentDuplicates ( ) {     int k = 0;     while (k+1 < myCount) {         if (myValues[k] == myValues[k+1]) {             remove (k+1); // it updates myCount         } else {             k = k+1;         }     }     return this; }
      • Sample Method 3: public void removeAdjacentDuplicates ( ) {     for (int i = 0; i+1 < myCount; i++){         if (myValues[i] == myValues[i+1]) {             remove (i+1); // it updates myCount             i--;         }     }     return this; }
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