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Lua tables - they are everything
In PHP, it sometimes feels like the answer to every question is "there's a function to do that" and in Lua, it seems the answer is always "it's a table" or "use a table"!
I'm running a Lua course this week, and I have just posted up an example in which I set up a table and showed some of the flexibilities - full example [here]
A table is Lua's collection variable - a variable that holds other variables. It may be indexed by numbers (and that's an ordered table, which can be sorted), or by member name (an unordered table, using a hashing technique, so unsortable directly), or even as a mixture, as I've done in the example just quoted.
Variables themselves are very flexible - Lua is a tiny language, and so variables also contain just about everything in order to cut down on the footprint ... that means that a variable can contain a number, a string of text, or another table or a named block of code (yes, that's a function) - all are in the same "namespace" and all are handled by the same base language code.
Do you need to see under Lua'a cover like this in order to use it? Well - it certainly helps to understand just a smidgin of what's going on inside, as that allows you to make the very best use of the language, and allows you to quickly find and rectify coding issues that are associated with this sharing of namespace. (written 2010-03-30, updated 2010-03-31)
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articlesU105 - Lua - Tables and the table library. 
Lua - using modules to add your own utilities - (2015-11-04) 
Dot or Colon separator between table name and member in Lua - what is the difference? - (2014-05-06) 
Metatables, Metamethods, classes and objects in Lua - (2014-03-18) 
Lua Tables - (2012-05-10) 
Special __ methods you can use in Lua metatables - (2012-04-12) 
Lua Metatables - (2010-04-02) 
ourdog is Greyhound, Staffie and Ginger Cake - (2009-11-09) 
The indexed and hashed parts of a Lua table - (2009-08-10) 
Lua - Table elements v table as a whole - (2008-08-07) 
Sorting in lua - specifying your own sort routine - (2008-07-05)
Some other Articles
First and last match with Regular ExpressionsIs Lua an Object Oriented language?The same very simple program in many different programming languagesLua tables - they are everythingRuth Davis, 1916 - 2010Email metrics and filteringGarlic bread without garlicTCP v UDP / Client v Server - Python examplesMultiple processes (forking) in Python
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