Arrays

Like all high-level languages, Ruby has built-in support for arrays, objects that contain ordered lists of other objects. You can use arrays (often in conjunction with hashes) to build and use complex data structures without having to define any custom classes.

An array in Ruby is an ordered list of elements. Each element is a reference to some object, the way a Ruby variable is a reference to some object. For convenience, throughout this book we usually talk about arrays as though the array elements were the actual objects, not references to the objects. Since Ruby (unlike languages like C) gives no way of manipulating object references directly, the distinction rarely matters.

The simplest way to create a new array is to put a comma-separated list of object references between square brackets. The object references can be predefined variables (my_var), anonymous objects created on the spot ('my string', 4.7, or MyClass.new), or expressions (a+b, object.method). A single array can contain references to objects of many different types:

	a1 = [] # => []
	a2 = [1, 2, 3] # => [1, 2, 3]
	a3 = [1, 2, 3, 'a', 'b', 'c', nil] # => [1, 2, 3, "a", "b", "c", nil]

	n1 = 4
	n2 = 6
	sum_and_difference = [n1, n2, n1+n2, n1-n2]
	# => [4, 6, 10, -2]

If your array contains only strings, you may find it simpler to build your array by enclosing the strings in the w{} syntax, separated by whitespace. This saves you from having to write all those quotes and comma:

	%w{1 2 3} # => ["1", "2", "3"]
	%w{The rat sat
	 on the mat}
	# => ["The", "rat", "sat", "on", "the", "mat"]

The << operator is the simplest way to add a value to an array. Ruby dynamically resizes arrays as elements are added and removed.

	a = [1, 2, 3] # => [1, 2, 3]
	a << 4.0 # => [1, 2, 3, 4.0]
	a << 'five' # => [1, 2, 3, 4.0, "five"]

An array element can be any object reference, including a reference to another array. An array can even contain a reference to itself, though this is usually a bad idea, since it can send your code into infinite loops.

	a = [1,2,3] # => [1, 2, 3]
	a << [4, 5, 6] # => [1, 2, 3, [4, 5, 6]]
	a << a # => [1, 2, 3, [4, 5, 6], […]]

As in most other programming languages, the elements of an array are numbered with indexes starting from zero. An array element can be looked up by passing its index into the array index operator []. The first element of an array can be accessed with a[0], the second with a[1], and so on.

Negative indexes count from the end of the array: the last element of an array can be accessed with a[-1], the second-to-last with a[-2], and so on. See Recipe 4.13 for more ways of using the array indexing operator.

The size of an array is available through the Array#size method. Because the index numbering starts from zero, the index of the last element of an array is the size of the array, minus one.

	a = [1, 2, 3, [4, 5, 6]]
	a.size # => 4
	a << a # => [1, 2, 3, [4, 5, 6], […]]
	a.size # => 5

	a[0] # => 1
	a[3] # => [4, 5, 6]
	a[3][0] # => 4
	a[3].size # => 3

	a[-2] # => [4, 5, 6]
	a[-1] # => [1, 2, 3, [4, 5, 6], […]]
	a[a.size-1] # => [1, 2, 3, [4, 5, 6], […]]

	a[-1][-1] # => [1, 2, 3, [4, 5, 6], […]]
	a[-1][-1][-1] # => [1, 2, 3, [4, 5, 6], […]]

All languages with arrays have constructs for iterating over them (even if it's just a for loop). Languages like Java and Python have general iterator methods similar to Ruby's, but they're usually used for iterating over arrays. In Ruby, iterators are the standard way of traversing all data structures: array iterators are just their simplest manifestation.

Ruby's array iterators deserve special study because they're Ruby's simplest and most accessible iterator methods. If you come to Ruby from another language, you'll probably start off thinking of iterator methods as letting you treat aspects of a data structure "like an array." Recipe 4.1 covers the basic array iterator methods, including ones in the Enumerable module that you'll encounter over and over again in different contexts.

The Set class, included in Ruby's standard library, is a useful alternative to the Array class for many basic algorithms. A Ruby set models a mathematical set: sets are not ordered, and cannot contain more than one reference to the same object. For more about sets, see Recipes 4.14 and 4.15.


Strings

Numbers

Date and Time

Arrays

Hashes

Files and Directories

Code Blocks and Iteration

Objects and Classes8

Modules and Namespaces

Reflection and Metaprogramming

XML and HTML

Graphics and Other File Formats

Databases and Persistence

Internet Services

Web Development Ruby on Rails

Web Services and Distributed Programming

Testing, Debugging, Optimizing, and Documenting

Packaging and Distributing Software

Automating Tasks with Rake

Multitasking and Multithreading

User Interface

Extending Ruby with Other Languages

System Administration



Ruby Cookbook
Ruby Cookbook (Cookbooks (OReilly))
ISBN: 0596523696
EAN: 2147483647
Year: N/A
Pages: 399

Similar book on Amazon

Flylib.com © 2008-2017.
If you may any questions please contact us: flylib@qtcs.net