Seth Woolley's Man Viewer

perllol(1) - perllol - Manipulating Arrays of Arrays in Perl - man 1 perllol

([section] manual, -k keyword, -K [section] search, -f whatis)
man plain no title

PERLLOL(1)             Perl Programmers Reference Guide             PERLLOL(1)

       perllol - Manipulating Arrays of Arrays in(1,8) Perl

       Declaration and Access of Arrays of Arrays

       The simplest thing to build is an array of arrays (sometimes impre-
       cisely called a list of lists).  It's reasonably easy to understand,
       and almost everything that applies here will also be applicable later
       on with the fancier data structures.

       An array of an array is just a regular old array @AoA that you can get
       at with two subscripts, like $AoA[3][2].  Here's a declaration of the

           # assign to our array, an array of array references
           @AoA = (
                  [ "fred", "barney" ],
                  [ "george", "jane", "elroy" ],
                  [ "homer", "marge", "bart" ],

           print $AoA[2][2];

       Now you should be very careful that the outer bracket type is a round
       one, that is, a parenthesis.  That's because you're assigning to an
       @array, so you need parentheses.  If you wanted there not to be an
       @AoA, but rather just a reference to it, you could do something more
       like this:

           # assign a reference to array of array references
           $ref_to_AoA = [
               [ "fred", "barney", "pebbles", "bambam", "dino", ],
               [ "homer", "bart", "marge", "maggie", ],
               [ "george", "jane", "elroy", "judy", ],

           print $ref_to_AoA->[2][2];

       Notice that the outer bracket type has changed, and so our access(2,5) syn-
       tax has also changed.  That's because unlike C, in(1,8) perl you can't
       freely interchange arrays and references thereto.  $ref_to_AoA is a
       reference to an array, whereas @AoA is an array proper.  Likewise,
       $AoA[2] is not an array, but an array ref.  So how come you can write(1,2)


       instead of having to write(1,2) these:


       Well, that's because the rule is that on adjacent brackets only
       (whether square or curly), you are free to omit the pointer dereferenc-
       ing arrow.  But you cannot do so for the very first one if(3,n) it's a
       scalar containing a reference, which means that $ref_to_AoA always
       needs it.

       Growing Your Own

       That's all well and good for declaration of a fixed data structure, but
       what if(3,n) you wanted to add new elements on the fly, or build it up
       entirely from scratch?

       First, let's look(1,8,3 Search::Dict) at reading it in(1,8) from a file.  This is something like
       adding a row at a time.  We'll assume that there's a flat file(1,n) in(1,8) which
       each line is a row and each word an element.  If you're trying to
       develop an @AoA array containing all these, here's the right way to do

           while (<>) {
               @tmp = split(1,n);
               push @AoA, [ @tmp ];

       You might also have loaded that from a function:

           for $i ( 1 .. 10 ) {
               $AoA[$i] = [ somefunc($i) ];

       Or you might have had a temporary variable sitting around with the
       array in(1,8) it.

           for $i ( 1 .. 10 ) {
               @tmp = somefunc($i);
               $AoA[$i] = [ @tmp ];

       It's very important that you make sure to use the "[]" array reference
       constructor.  That's because this will be very wrong:

           $AoA[$i] = @tmp;

       You see, assigning a named(5,8) array like that to a scalar just counts the
       number of elements in(1,8) @tmp, which probably isn't what you want.

       If you are running under "use strict", you'll have to add some declara-
       tions to make it happy:

           use strict;
           my(@AoA, @tmp);
           while (<>) {
               @tmp = split(1,n);
               push @AoA, [ @tmp ];

       Of course, you don't need the temporary array to have a name at all:

           while (<>) {
               push @AoA, [ split(1,n) ];

       You also don't have to use push().  You could just make a direct
       assignment if(3,n) you knew where you wanted to put it:

           my (@AoA, $i, $line);
           for $i ( 0 .. 10 ) {
               $line = <>;
               $AoA[$i] = [ split(1,n) ' ', $line ];

       or even just

           my (@AoA, $i);
           for $i ( 0 .. 10 ) {
               $AoA[$i] = [ split(1,n) ' ', <> ];

       You should in(1,8) general be leery of using functions that could poten-
       tially return lists in(1,8) scalar context without explicitly stating such.
       This would be clearer to the casual reader:

           my (@AoA, $i);
           for $i ( 0 .. 10 ) {
               $AoA[$i] = [ split(1,n) ' ', scalar(<>) ];

       If you wanted to have a $ref_to_AoA variable as a reference to an
       array, you'd have to do something like this:

           while (<>) {
               push @$ref_to_AoA, [ split(1,n) ];

       Now you can add new rows.  What about adding new columns?  If you're
       dealing with just matrices, it's often easiest to use simple assign-

           for $x (1 .. 10) {
               for $y (1 .. 10) {
                   $AoA[$x][$y] = func($x, $y);

           for $x ( 3, 7, 9 ) {
               $AoA[$x][20] += func2($x);

       It doesn't matter whether those elements are already there or not:
       it'll gladly create them for you, setting intervening elements to
       "undef" as need be.

       If you wanted just to append to a row, you'd have to do something a bit
       funnier looking:

           # add new columns to an existing row
           push @{ $AoA[0] }, "wilma", "betty";

       Notice that I couldn't say just:

           push $AoA[0], "wilma", "betty";  # WRONG!

       In fact, that wouldn't even compile.  How come?  Because the argument
       to push() must be a real array, not just a reference to such.

       Access and Printing

       Now it's time(1,2,n) to print your data structure out.  How are you going to
       do that?  Well, if(3,n) you want only one of the elements, it's trivial:

           print $AoA[0][0];

       If you want to print the whole thing, though, you can't say

           print @AoA;         # WRONG

       because you'll get just references listed, and perl will never automat-
       ically dereference things for you.  Instead, you have to roll yourself
       a loop or two.  This prints the whole structure, using the shell-style
       for() construct to loop across the outer set(7,n,1 builtins) of subscripts.

           for $aref ( @AoA ) {
               print "\t [ @$aref ],\n";

       If you wanted to keep track of subscripts, you might do this:

           for $i ( 0 .. $#AoA ) {
               print "\t elt $i is [ @{$AoA[$i]} ],\n";

       or maybe even this.  Notice the inner loop.

           for $i ( 0 .. $#AoA ) {
               for $j ( 0 .. $#{$AoA[$i]} ) {
                   print "elt $i $j is $AoA[$i][$j]\n";

       As you can see, it's getting a bit complicated.  That's why sometimes
       is easier to take a temporary on your way through:

           for $i ( 0 .. $#AoA ) {
               $aref = $AoA[$i];
               for $j ( 0 .. $#{$aref} ) {
                   print "elt $i $j is $AoA[$i][$j]\n";

       Hmm... that's still a bit ugly.  How about this:

           for $i ( 0 .. $#AoA ) {
               $aref = $AoA[$i];
               $n = @$aref - 1;
               for $j ( 0 .. $n ) {
                   print "elt $i $j is $AoA[$i][$j]\n";


       If you want to get at a slice (part of a row) in(1,8) a multidimensional
       array, you're going to have to do some fancy subscripting.  That's
       because while we have a nice(1,2) synonym for single elements via the
       pointer arrow for dereferencing, no such convenience exists for slices.
       (Remember, of course, that you can always write(1,2) a loop to do a slice

       Here's how to do one operation using a loop.  We'll assume an @AoA
       variable as before.

           @part = ();
           $x = 4;
           for ($y = 7; $y < 13; $y++) {
               push @part, $AoA[$x][$y];

       That same loop could be replaced with a slice operation:

           @part = @{ $AoA[4] } [ 7..12 ];

       but as you might well imagine, this is pretty rough on the reader.

       Ah, but what if(3,n) you wanted a two-dimensional slice, such as having $x
       run from 4..8 and $y run from 7 to 12?  Hmm... here's the simple way:

           @newAoA = ();
           for ($startx = $x = 4; $x <= 8; $x++) {
               for ($starty = $y = 7; $y <= 12; $y++) {
                   $newAoA[$x - $startx][$y - $starty] = $AoA[$x][$y];

       We can reduce some of the looping through slices

           for ($x = 4; $x <= 8; $x++) {
               push @newAoA, [ @{ $AoA[$x] } [ 7..12 ] ];

       If you were into Schwartzian Transforms, you would probably have
       selected map for that

           @newAoA = map { [ @{ $AoA[$_] } [ 7..12 ] ] } 4 .. 8;

       Although if(3,n) your manager accused of seeking job security (or rapid
       insecurity) through inscrutable code, it would be hard to argue. :-) If
       I were you, I'd put that in(1,8) a function:

           @newAoA = splice_2D( \@AoA, 4 => 8, 7 => 12 );
           sub splice_2D {
               my $lrr = shift;        # ref to array of array refs!
               my ($x_lo, $x_hi,
                   $y_lo, $y_hi) = @_;

               return map {
                   [ @{ $lrr->[$_] } [ $y_lo .. $y_hi ] ]
               } $x_lo .. $x_hi;

       perldata(1), perlref(1), perldsc(1)

       Tom Christiansen <>

       Last update: Thu Jun  4 16:16:23 MDT 1998

perl v5.8.5                       2004-04-23                        PERLLOL(1)

References for this manual (incoming links)