A “Minority Report” Monte Carlo simulation in Scala alvin June 9, 2017 - 8:17am

“The Precogs are never wrong. But occasionally they do disagree.”
~ Minority Report

This article shares the source code for a Monte Carlo simulation that I wrote in Scala. It was inspired by the movie Minority Report, as well as my own experience.


For the purposes of this simulation, imagine that you have three people that are each “right” roughly 80% of the time. For instance, if they take a test with 100 questions, each of the three individuals will get 80 of the questions right, although they may not get the same questions right or wrong. Given these three people, my question to several statisticians was, “If two of the people have the same answer to a given question, what are the odds that they are correct? Furthermore, if all three of them give the same answer to a question, what are the odds that they are right?”

Recursion: How Recursive Function Calls Work

An important point to understand about recursive function calls is that just as they “wind up” as they are called repeatedly, they “unwind” rapidly when the function’s end condition is reached.

In the case of the sum function, the end condition is reached when the Nil element in a List is reached. When sum gets to the Nil element, this pattern of the match expression is matched:

Recursion: How to Write a ‘sum’ Function

With all of the images of the previous lesson firmly ingrained in your brain, let’s write a sum function using recursion!

Sketching the sum function signature

Given a List of integers, such as this one:

val list = List(1, 2, 3, 4)

let’s start tackling the problem in the usual way, by thinking, “Write the function signature first.”

How to drop the first matching element in a Scala sequence

Summary: This blog post shows one way to drop/filter the first matching element from a Scala sequence (Seq, List, Vector, Array, etc.). I don’t claim that the algorithm is efficient, but it does work.


While creating some Scala test code earlier today I had an immutable list of toppings for a pizza, and I got into a situation where I wanted to remove the first instance of a topping.

Scala: How to fill/populate a list (same element or different elements)

As a quick note, if you ever need to fill/populate a Scala list with the same element X number of times, a simple solution is to use the fill method, like this:

scala> val x = List.fill(3)("foo")
x: List[String] = List(foo, foo, foo)

If you want to populate a list with different element values, another approach is to use the tabulate method: