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Operating on every scalar in a list

Posted by enquirer (enquirer), 9 February 2004
How can I apply an operation to every element in a list without using a loop in my Perl program?

Posted by admin (Graham Ellis), 9 February 2004
Where you can, it's an excellent idea to use Perl's powerful list handling capability to operate on a list as a whole rather than loop through individual elements.  It's quicker at runtime, it saves code, and it saves you the (potential) error of getting your loop counts wrong and starting or finishing early.

The map function in Perl allows you to apply an expression to each member of a list, and it returns a list of the same length, with each new member transformed according to the expression.  When you write the expression, you refer to the incoming value as $_ which is (in any case) the default for many functions.  Thus:
@to = map(uc."x",@from);

takes all the strings in @from, forces them to upper case with the uc function, and appends a letter "x" to each.  The resultant list is saved in @to.

Sometimes, newcomers get map and grep confused. map returns a list THE SAME LENGTH as the incoming list, with all its elements transformed. grep returns a list which is usually SHORTER than the incoming list, and the elements of this new shorter list are NOT transformed.  i.e. Map is a transformer and Grep is a selector.

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