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Turn Rows Into Columns With The Transpose Method

Imagine that you have a perfect grid, let’s say a 3×3 square, in the form of a multi-dimensional array.

And you want to take the rows & convert them into columns.

Why would you want to do that?

One use is for the classic game: tic-tac-toe.

You store your board as a grid. And to find a winning move you have to check the rows, columns & diagonals.

The problem is that if you are storing your grid as an array you only get direct access to the rows.

Columns The Hard Way

By “direct access” I mean that you can go over your array (with each, map, etc.) without having to use more array indexing than necessary.

Let’s see an example!

Here’s a grid:

Here’s a visual I made for you:

You could get the columns by referencing the indexes.

For example, the first column would be:

But the first row is just this:

How can we make working with columns as easy as working with rows?

Columns The Easy Way

The easy way to do this is by using the Array#transpose method.


Yes, that’s all you have to do!

Now you can get the first column like this:

As you can see knowing a lot of methods can save you a lot of work 🙂


I’m not going to explain the whole thing. I just want to show you how this method can apply to a real project.

To win a game of tic-tac-toe you need to fill a row, a column or a diagonal.

Here’s the code for checking rows:

And here’s is the code for columns:

Notice how the only difference is the transpose method!

Here’s the all_equal? method:

You can learn more about that each_cons method by reading this post on Enumerable methods.


You have learned about the transpose method.

Given a perfect grid, transpose allows you to transform the rows into columns for easy access.

If you enjoyed this post you may want to consider buying a copy of my book Ruby Deep Dive.

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