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Recipe 4.6 Iterating Over an Array by Reference

4.6.1 Problem

You have a reference to an array, and you want to use a loop to work with the array's elements.

4.6.2 Solution

Use foreach or for to loop over the dereferenced array:

# iterate over elements of array in $ARRAYREF
foreach $item (@$ARRAYREF) {
    # do something with $item

for ($i = 0; $i <= $#$ARRAYREF; $i++) {
    # do something with $ARRAYREF->[$i]

4.6.3 Discussion

The solutions assume you have a scalar variable containing the array reference. This lets you do things like this:

@fruits = ( "Apple", "Blackberry" );
$fruit_ref = \@fruits;
foreach $fruit (@$fruit_ref) {
    print "$fruit tastes good in a pie.\n";
Apple tastes good in a pie.
Blackberry tastes good in a pie.

We could have rewritten the foreach loop as a for loop like this:

for ($i=0; $i <= $#$fruit_ref; $i++) {
    print "$fruit_ref->[$i] tastes good in a pie.\n";

Frequently, though, the array reference is the result of a more complex expression. Use the @{ EXPR } notation to turn the result of the expression back into an array:

$namelist{felines} = \@rogue_cats;
foreach $cat ( @{ $namelist{felines} } ) {
    print "$cat purrs hypnotically..\n";
print "--More--\nYou are controlled.\n";

Again, we can replace the foreach with a for loop:

for ($i=0; $i <= $#{ $namelist{felines} }; $i++) {
    print "$namelist{felines}[$i] purrs hypnotically.\n";

4.6.4 See Also

perlref(1) and perllol(1); Chapter 8 of Programming Perl; Recipe 11.1; Recipe 4.5

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