Circular Buffer
Circular Buffer

Circular Buffer



A circular buffer, cyclic buffer or ring buffer is a data structure that uses a single, fixed-size buffer as if it were connected end-to-end.

A circular buffer first starts empty and of some predefined length. For example, this is a 7-element buffer:

[ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]

Assume that a 1 is written into the middle of the buffer (exact starting location does not matter in a circular buffer):

[ ][ ][ ][1][ ][ ][ ]

Then assume that two more elements are added β€” 2 & 3 β€” which get appended after the 1:

[ ][ ][ ][1][2][3][ ]

If two elements are then removed from the buffer, the oldest values inside the buffer are removed. The two elements removed, in this case, are 1 & 2, leaving the buffer with just a 3:

[ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][3][ ]

If the buffer has 7 elements then it is completely full:


When the buffer is full an error will be raised, alerting the client that further writes are blocked until a slot becomes free.

When the buffer is full, the client can opt to overwrite the oldest data with a forced write. In this case, two more elements β€” A & B β€” are added and they overwrite the 3 & 4:


3 & 4 have been replaced by A & B making 5 now the oldest data in the buffer. Finally, if two elements are removed then what would be returned is 5 & 6 yielding the buffer:

[ ][ ][7][8][9][A][B]

Because there is space available, if the client again uses overwrite to store C & D then the space where 5 & 6 were stored previously will be used not the location of 7 & 8. 7 is still the oldest element and the buffer is once again full.


Customizing and Raising Exceptions

Sometimes it is necessary to both customize and raise exceptions in your code. When you do this, you should always include a meaningful error message to indicate what the source of the error is. This makes your code more readable and helps significantly with debugging.

Custom exceptions can be created through new exception classes (see classes for more detail.) that are typically subclasses of Exception.

For situations where you know the error source will be a derivative of a certain exception type, you can choose to inherit from one of the built in error types under the Exception class. When raising the error, you should still include a meaningful message.

This particular exercise requires that you create two custom exceptions. One exception to be raised/"thrown" when your circular buffer is full, and one for when it is empty. The tests will only pass if you customize appropriate exceptions, raise those exceptions, and include appropriate error messages.

To customize a built-in exception, create a class that inherits from that exception. When raising the custom exception with a message, write the message as an argument to the exception type:

# subclassing the built-in BufferError to create BufferFullException
class BufferFullException(BufferError):
    """Exception raised when CircularBuffer is full.

    message: explanation of the error.

    def __init__(self, message):
        self.message = message

# raising a BufferFullException
raise BufferFullException("Circular buffer is full")


WikipediaThe link opens in a new window or tab
Edit via GitHub The link opens in a new window or tab
Python Exercism

Ready to start Circular Buffer?

Sign up to Exercism to learn and master Python with 17 concepts, 140 exercises, and real human mentoring, all for free.