# Introduction to Problem Solving and Control Statements in Visual Basic 2010

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## 4.10 Formulating Algorithms: Counter-Controlled Repetition

To illustrate how algorithms are developed, we solve a problem that averages student grades. Consider the following problem statement:

A class of students took a quiz. The grades(integers in the range 0 to 100) for this quiz are available to you. Determine the class average on the quiz.

The class average is equal to the sum of the grades divided by the number of students. The algorithm for solving this problem on a computer must input each grade, keep track of the total of all grades input, perform the averaging calculation and display the result.

### GUI for the Class-Average Application

Figure 4.10 shows this application's GUI. For this example, we introduce the ListBox control, which we use to display the grades the user enters and to manipulate those grades to perform the class-average calculation. Each grade that the user enters into the program by pressing the Submit Grade Button is placed in the ListBox. We calculate the class average when the user presses the Calculate Average Button. We also provide a Clear Grades Button to remove all the grades from the ListBox and clear the results, so the user can enter a new set of grades.

#### Setting the Form 's Default Button

When you execute this program, notice that the Submit Grade Button has a blue highlight around it. This Button is the Form's default Button—the one that will be pressed when the user presses the Enter key. In this program, the user can type a value in the TextBox and press Enter to press the Submit Grade Button rather than clicking it with the mouse. This convenience feature enables the user to rapidly enter grades. You can specify a Form's default Button in the Properties window by setting the Form's AcceptButton property to the appropriate Button. For this program, we set the AcceptButton property to the submitGradeButton.

#### Pseudocode Algorithm with Counter-Controlled Repetition

Let's use pseudocode to list the actions to execute and specify the order of execution for calculating the class average. After the user enters the grades and presses the Calculate Average Button, we use counter-controlled repetition to get the grades from the ListBox and process them one at a time. This technique uses a variable called a counter (or control variable) to specify the number of times that a set of statements will execute. This is also called definite repetition because the number of repetitions is known before the loop begins executing. In this example, repetition terminates when the counter exceeds the number of grades in the ListBox. Figure 4.11 presents a fully developed pseudocode algorithm and Fig. 4.12 presents the program that implements the algorithm. In the next section, you'll learn how to develop pseudocode algorithms and convert them to Visual Basic. (In Exercise 4.15, you'll use counter-controlled repetition to output a table of values.)

#### Fig 4.11. Pseudocode algorithm that uses counter-controlled repetition to solve the class-average problem.

 ``` 1 Set total to zero 2 Set grade counter to zero 3 4 While grade counter is less than the number of grades 5 Get the next grade 6 Add the grade into the total 7 Add one to the grade counter 8 9 If the grade counter is not equal to zero then 10 Set the class average to the total divided by the number of grades 11 Display the class average 12 Else 13 Display "No grades were entered" ```

#### Fig 4.12. Counter-controlled repetition: Class-average problem.

 ``` 1 ' Fig. 4.12: ClassAverage.vb 2 ' Counter-controlled repetition: Class-average problem. 3 Public Class ClassAverage 4 ' place a grade in the gradesListBox 5 Private Sub submitGradeButton_Click(ByVal sender As System.Object, 6 ByVal e As System.EventArgs) Handles submitGradeButton.Click 7 8 ' if the user entered a grade 9 If gradeTextBox.Text <> String.Empty Then 10 ' add the grade to the end of the gradesListBox 11 gradesListBox.Items.Add(gradeTextBox.Text) 12 gradeTextBox.Clear() ' clear the gradeTextBox 13 End If 14 15 gradeTextBox.Focus() ' gives the focus to the gradeTextBox 16 End Sub ' submitGradeButton_Click 17 18 ' calculates the class average based on the grades in gradesListBox 19 Private Sub calculateAverageButton_Click(ByVal sender As System.Object, 20 ByVal e As System.EventArgs) Handles calculateAverageButton.Click 21 22 Dim total As Integer ' sum of grades entered by user 23 Dim gradeCounter As Integer ' counter for grades 24 Dim grade As Integer ' grade input by user 25 Dim average As Double ' average of grades 26 27 ' initialization phase 28 total = 0 ' set total to zero before adding grades to it 29 gradeCounter = 0 ' prepare to loop 30 31 ' processing phase 32 Do While gradeCounter < gradesListBox.Items.Count 33 grade = gradesListBox.Items(gradeCounter) ' get next grade 34 total += grade ' add grade to total 35 gradeCounter += 1 ' add 1 to gradeCounter 36 Loop 37 38 ' termination phase 39 If gradeCounter <> 0 Then 40 average = total / gradesListBox.Items.Count ' calculate average 41 42 ' display total and average (with two digits of precision) 43 classAverageLabel.Text = "Total of the " & gradeCounter & 44 " grade(s) is " & total & vbCrLf & "Class average is " & 45 String.Format("{0:F}", average) 46 Else 47 classAverageLabel.Text = "No grades were entered" 48 End If 49 End Sub ' calculateAverageButton_Click 50 51 ' clear grades from gradeListBox and results from classAverageLabel 52 Private Sub clearGradesButton_Click(ByVal sender As System.Object, 53 ByVal e As System.EventArgs) Handles clearGradesButton.Click 54 55 gradesListBox.Items.Clear() ' removes all items from gradesListBox 56 classAverageLabel.Text = String.Empty ' clears classAverageLabel 57 End Sub ' clearGradesButton_Click 58 End Class ' ClassAverage```

Note the references in the pseudocode algorithm (Fig. 4.11) to a total and a counter. A total is a variable used to accumulate the sum of several values. A counter is a variable used to count—in this case, the grade counter records the number of grades input by the user. It's important that variables used as totals and counters have appropriate initial values before they're used. Counters usually are initialized to 0 or 1, depending on their use. Totals generally are initialized to 0. Numeric variables are initialized to 0 when they're declared, unless another value is assigned to the variable in its declaration.

In the pseudocode, we add one to the grade counter only in the body of the loop (line 7). If the user does not enter any grades, the condition "grade counter is less than the number of grades" (line 4) will be false and grade counter will be zero when we reach the part of the algorithm that calculates the class average. We test for the possibility of division by zero—a logic error that, if undetected, would cause the program to fail.

#### Implementing Counter-Controlled Repetition

The ClassAverage class (Fig. 4.12) defines the Click event handlers for the submitGradeButton, calculateAverageButton and clearGradesButton. The calculateAverageButton_Click method (lines 19–49) implements the class-averaging algorithm described by the pseudocode in Fig. 4.11.

When the user presses the Submit Grade Button, method submitGradeButton_Click (lines 5–16) obtains the value the user typed and places it in the gradesListBox. Line 9 first ensures that the gradeTextBox is not empty by comparing its Text property to the constant String.Empty. This prevents the program from inserting an empty string in the ListBox, which would cause the program to fail when it attempts to process the grades. This is the beginning of our efforts to validate data entered by the user. In later chapters, we'll ensure that the data is in range (for example, an Integer representing a month needs to be in the range 1–12) and that data meets various other criteria. For this program, we assume that the user enters only Integer values—noninteger values could cause the program to fail when the grades are processed.

If the gradeTextBox is not empty, line 11 uses the ListBox's Items property to add the grade to the ListBox. This property keeps track of the values in the ListBox. To place a new item in the ListBox, call the Items property's Add method, which adds the new item at the end of the ListBox. Line 12 then clears the value in the gradeTextBox so the user can enter the next grade. Line 15 calls the gradeTextBox's Focus method, which makes the TextBox the active control—the one that will respond to the user's interactions. This allows the user to immediately start typing the next grade, without clicking the TextBox.

#### Method calculateAverageButton_Click ; Introducing Type Double and Floating-Point Numbers

Method calculateAverageButton_Click (lines 19–49) uses the algorithm in Fig. 4.11 to calculate the class average and display the results. Lines 22–24 declare variables total, gradeCounter and grade to be of type Integer. Line 25 declares variable average to be of type Double. Although each grade is an Integer, the average calculation uses division, so it is likely to produce a number with a fractional result. Such numbers (like 84.4) contain decimal points and are called floating-point numbers. Type Double is typically used to store floating-point numbers. All the floating-point numbers you type in aprogram's source code (such as 7.33 and 0.0975) are treated as Double values by default and are known as floating-point literals. Values of type Double are represented approximately in memory. For precise calculations, such as those used in financial calculations, Visual Basic provides type Decimal (discussed in Section 5.4).

Variable total accumulates the sum of the grades entered. Variable gradeCounter helps us determine when the loop at lines 32–36 should terminate. Variable grade stores the most recent grade value obtained from the ListBox (line 33). Variable average stores the average grade (line 40).

The declarations (in lines 22–25) appear in the body of method calculateAverageButton_Click. Variables declared in a method body are so-called local variables and can be used only from their declaration until the end of the method declaration. A local variable's declaration must appear before the variable is used in that method. A local variable cannot be accessed outside the method in which it is declared.

The assignments (in lines 28–29) initialize total and gradeCounter to 0. Line 32 indicates that the Do While...Loop statement should continue looping (also called iterating) while gradeCounter's value is less than the ListBox's number of items. ListBox property Items keeps track of the ListBox's number of items, which you can access via the expression gradesListBox.Items. Count. While this condition remains true, the Do While...Loop statement repeatedly executes the statements in its body (lines 33–35).

Line 33 reads a grade from the ListBox and assigns it to the variable grade. Each value in the ListBox's Items property has a position number associated withit—this is known as the item's index. For example, in the sample output of Fig. 4.12, the grade 65 is at index 0, 78 is at index 1, 89 is at index 2, and so on. The index of the last item is always one less than the total number of items represented by the ListBox's Items.Count property. To get the value at a particular index, we use the expression:

 ```` grade = gradesListBox.Items(gradeCounter)` ```

in which gradeCounter's current value is the index.

Line 34 adds the new grade entered by the user into the variable total using the += compound assignment operator. Line 35 adds 1 to gradeCounter to indicate that the program has processed another grade and is ready to input the next grade from the user. Incrementing gradeCounter eventually causes the loop to terminate when the condition gradeCounter <gradesListBox.Items.Count becomes false.

When the loop terminates, the If...Then...Else statement at lines 39–48 executes. Line 39 determines whether any grades have been entered. If so, line 40 performs the averaging calculation using the floating-point division operator (/) and stores the result in Double variable average. If we used the integer division operator (\), the class average would not be as precise because any fractional part of the average would be discarded. For example, 844 divided by 10 is 84.4, but with integer division the result would be 84. Lines 43–45 display the results in the classAverageLabel. If no grades were entered, line 47 displays a message in the classAverageLabel.

When the user presses the Clear Grades Button, method clearGradesButton_Click (lines 52–57) prepares for the user to enter a new set of grades. First, line 55 removes the grades from the gradesListBox by calling the Item's property's Clear method. Then, line 56 clears the text on the classAverageLabel.

#### Control Statement Stacking

In this example, we see that control statements may be stacked on top of one another (that is, placed in sequence) just as a child stacks building blocks. The Do While...Loop statement (lines 32–36) is followed in sequence by an If...Then...Else statement (lines 39–48).

#### Formatting for Floating-Point Numbers

The statement in lines 43–45 outputs the class average. In this example, we decided to display the class average rounded to the nearest hundredth and to output the average with exactly two digits to the right of the decimal point. To do so, we used the expression

 ``String.Format("{0:F}", average)``

which indicates that average's value should be displayed as a number with a specific number of digits to the right of the decimal point—called a fixed-point number. This is an example of formatted output, in which you control how a number appears for display purposes. The String class's Format method performs the formatting. The first argument to the method ("{0:F}") is the format string, which acts as a placeholder for the value being formatted. The numeric value that appears before the colon (in this case, 0) indicates which of Format's arguments will be formatted—0 specifies the first argument after the format string passed to Format, namely average. As you'll see in later examples, additional values can be inserted into the string to specify other arguments. The value after the colon (in this case, F ) is known as a format specifier, which indicates how a value is to be formatted. The format specifier F indicates that a fixed-point number should be rounded to two decimal places by default. The entire placeholder ({0:F}) is replaced with the formatted value of variable average. You can change the number of decimal places to display by placing an integer value after the format specifier—for example, the string "{0:F3}" rounds the number to three decimal places.