Functions

Overview

Teaching: 15 min
Exercises: 15 min
Questions
  • How else can I eliminate redundancy in my Makefiles?

Objectives
  • Write Makefiles that use functions to match and transform sets of files.

At this point, we have the following Makefile:

include config.mk

# Generate summary table.
results.txt : $(ZIPF_SRC) isles.dat abyss.dat last.dat
	$(ZIPF_EXE) *.dat > $@

# Count words.
.PHONY : dats
dats : isles.dat abyss.dat last.dat

%.dat : books/%.txt $(COUNT_SRC)
	$(COUNT_EXE) $< $*.dat

.PHONY : clean
clean :
	rm -f *.dat
	rm -f results.txt

Make has many functions which can be used to write more complex rules. One example is wildcard. wildcard gets a list of files matching some pattern, which we can then save in a variable. So, for example, we can get a list of all our text files (files ending in .txt) and save these in a variable by adding this at the beginning of our makefile:

TXT_FILES=$(wildcard books/*.txt)

We can add a .PHONY target and rule to show the variable’s value:

.PHONY : variables
variables:
	@echo TXT_FILES: $(TXT_FILES)

@echo

Make prints actions as it executes them. Using @ at the start of an action tells Make not to print this action. So, by using @echo instead of echo, we can see the result of echo (the variable’s value being printed) but not the echo command itself.

If we run Make:

$ make variables

We get:

TXT_FILES: books/abyss.txt books/isles.txt books/last.txt books/sierra.txt

Note how sierra.txt is now included too.

The following figure shows the dependencies embodied within our Makefile, involved in building the results.txt target, once we have introduced our function:

results.txt dependencies after introducing a function

patsubst (‘pattern substitution’) takes a pattern, a replacement string and a list of names in that order; each name in the list that matches the pattern is replaced by the replacement string. Again, we can save the result in a variable. So, for example, we can rewrite our list of text files into a list of data files (files ending in .dat) and save these in a variable:

DAT_FILES=$(patsubst books/%.txt, %.dat, $(TXT_FILES))

We can extend variables to show the value of DAT_FILES too:

.PHONY : variables
variables:
	@echo TXT_FILES: $(TXT_FILES)
	@echo DAT_FILES: $(DAT_FILES)

If we run Make,

$ make variables

then we get:

TXT_FILES: books/abyss.txt books/isles.txt books/last.txt books/sierra.txt
DAT_FILES: abyss.dat isles.dat last.dat sierra.dat

Now, sierra.txt is processed too.

With these we can rewrite clean and dats:

.PHONY : dats
dats : $(DAT_FILES)

.PHONY : clean
clean :
	rm -f $(DAT_FILES)
	rm -f results.txt

Let’s also tidy up the %.dat rule by using the automatic variable $@ instead of $*.dat:

%.dat : books/%.txt $(COUNT_SRC)
	$(COUNT_EXE) $< $@

Let’s check:

$ make clean
$ make dats

We get:

python wordcount.py books/abyss.txt abyss.dat
python wordcount.py books/isles.txt isles.dat
python wordcount.py books/last.txt last.dat
python wordcount.py books/sierra.txt sierra.dat

We can also rewrite results.txt:

results.txt : $(DAT_FILES) $(ZIPF_SRC)
	$(ZIPF_EXE) $(DAT_FILES) > $@

If we re-run Make:

$ make clean
$ make results.txt

We get:

python wordcount.py books/abyss.txt abyss.dat
python wordcount.py books/isles.txt isles.dat
python wordcount.py books/last.txt last.dat
python wordcount.py books/sierra.txt sierra.dat
python zipf_test.py  last.dat  isles.dat  abyss.dat  sierra.dat > results.txt

Let’s check the results.txt file:

$ cat results.txt
Book	First	Second	Ratio
abyss	4044	2807	1.44
isles	3822	2460	1.55
last	12244	5566	2.20
sierra	4242	2469	1.72

So the range of the ratios of occurrences of the two most frequent words in our books is indeed around 2, as predicted by Zipf’s Law, i.e., the most frequently-occurring word occurs approximately twice as often as the second most frequent word. Here is our final Makefile:

include config.mk

TXT_FILES=$(wildcard books/*.txt)
DAT_FILES=$(patsubst books/%.txt, %.dat, $(TXT_FILES))

# Generate summary table.
results.txt : $(DAT_FILES) $(ZIPF_SRC)
	$(ZIPF_EXE) $(DAT_FILES) > $@

# Count words.
.PHONY : dats
dats : $(DAT_FILES)

%.dat : books/%.txt $(COUNT_SRC)
	$(COUNT_EXE) $< $@

.PHONY : clean
clean :
	rm -f $(DAT_FILES)
	rm -f results.txt

.PHONY : variables
variables:
	@echo TXT_FILES: $(TXT_FILES)
	@echo DAT_FILES: $(DAT_FILES)

Remember, the config.mk file contains:

# Count words script.
COUNT_SRC=wordcount.py
COUNT_EXE=python $(COUNT_SRC)

# Test Zipf's rule
ZIPF_SRC=zipf_test.py
ZIPF_EXE=python $(ZIPF_SRC)

Where We Are

This Makefile and its accompanying config.mk contain all of our work so far.

Adding more books

We can now do a better job at testing Zipf’s rule by adding more books. The books we have used come from the Project Gutenberg website. Project Gutenberg offers thousands of free ebooks to download.

Exercise instructions:

  • go to Project Gutenberg and use the search box to find another book, for example ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ from Oscar Wilde.
  • download the ‘Plain Text UTF-8’ version and save it to the books folder; choose a short name for the file (that doesn’t include spaces) e.g. “dorian_gray.txt” because the filename is going to be used in the results.txt file
  • optionally, open the file in a text editor and remove extraneous text at the beginning and end (look for the phrase End of Project Gutenberg's [title], by [author])
  • run make and check that the correct commands are run, given the dependency tree
  • check the results.txt file to see how this book compares to the others

Key Points

  • Make is actually a small programming language with many built-in functions.

  • Use wildcard function to get lists of files matching a pattern.

  • Use patsubst function to rewrite file names.