I recently found myself needing to generate subsets of collections. In one situation I needed to generate all combinations of possibly interacting diseases (up to 6 diseases from a set of ~24 diseases) to diagnose a given set of symptoms. And in another, I needed to generate combinations of insufficient input data to assert that a system under test would report an error given the insufficient data.
At first, I didn’t see these problems as set problems. I saw them exclusively as combination problems, but the set perspective turned out to be the right lens through which to view them.
The recipe in this article is a succinct procedure for generating subsets that resulted from my mulling over the aforementioned problems and enlisting the help of some Internet friends to put a name to some code I had written — a power set-producing procedure, which I later generalized to what is shown below.
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