This section of the FAQ answers questions related to manipulating
       numbers, dates, strings, arrays, hashes, and miscellaneous data issues.

Data: Numbers
   Why am I getting long decimals (eg, 19.9499999999999) instead of the
       numbers I should be getting (eg, 19.95)?
       For the long explanation, see David Goldberg's "What Every Computer
       Scientist Should Know About Floating-Point Arithmetic"

       Internally, your computer represents floating-point numbers in binary.
       Digital (as in powers of two) computers cannot store all numbers
       exactly.  Some real numbers lose precision in the process.  This is a
       problem with how computers store numbers and affects all computer
       languages, not just Perl.

       perlnumber shows the gory details of number representations and

       To limit the number of decimal places in your numbers, you can use the
       "printf" or "sprintf" function.  See "Floating Point Arithmetic" in
       perlop for more details.

               printf "%.2f", 10/3;

               my $number = sprintf "%.2f", 10/3;

   Why is int() broken?
       Your "int()" is most probably working just fine.  It's the numbers that
       aren't quite what you think.

       First, see the answer to "Why am I getting long decimals (eg,
       19.9499999999999) instead of the numbers I should be getting (eg,

       For example, this

               print int(0.6/0.2-2), "\n";

       will in most computers print 0, not 1, because even such simple numbers
       as 0.6 and 0.2 cannot be presented exactly by floating-point numbers.
       What you think in the above as 'three' is really more like

   Why isn't my octal data interpreted correctly?
       (contributed by brian d foy)

       You're probably trying to convert a string to a number, which Perl only
       converts as a decimal number. When Perl converts a string to a number,
       it ignores leading spaces and zeroes, then assumes the rest of the
       digits are in base 10:

       If you want to use the same literal digits (644) in Perl, you have to
       tell Perl to treat them as octal numbers either by prefixing the digits
       with a 0 or using "oct":

               chmod(     0644, $file);   # right, has leading zero
               chmod( oct(644), $file );  # also correct

       The problem comes in when you take your numbers from something that
       Perl thinks is a string, such as a command line argument in @ARGV:

               chmod( $ARGV[0],      $file);   # wrong, even if "0644"

               chmod( oct($ARGV[0]), $file );  # correct, treat string as octal

       You can always check the value you're using by printing it in octal
       notation to ensure it matches what you think it should be. Print it in
       octal  and decimal format:

               printf "0%o %d", $number, $number;

   Does Perl have a round() function?  What about ceil() and floor()?  Trig
       Remember that "int()" merely truncates toward 0.  For rounding to a
       certain number of digits, "sprintf()" or "printf()" is usually the
       easiest route.

               printf("%.3f", 3.1415926535);   # prints 3.142

       The "POSIX" module (part of the standard Perl distribution) implements
       "ceil()", "floor()", and a number of other mathematical and
       trigonometric functions.

               use POSIX;
               $ceil   = ceil(3.5);   # 4
               $floor  = floor(3.5);  # 3

       In 5.000 to 5.003 perls, trigonometry was done in the "Math::Complex"
       module.  With 5.004, the "Math::Trig" module (part of the standard Perl
       distribution) implements the trigonometric functions. Internally it
       uses the "Math::Complex" module and some functions can break out from
       the real axis into the complex plane, for example the inverse sine of

       Rounding in financial applications can have serious implications, and
       the rounding method used should be specified precisely.  In these
       cases, it probably pays not to trust whichever system of rounding is
       being used by Perl, but instead to implement the rounding function you
       need yourself.

       To see why, notice how you'll still have an issue on half-way-point

               for ($i = 0; $i < 1.01; $i += 0.05) { printf "%.1f ",$i}

       representations.  This is intended to be representational rather than

       Some of the examples later in perlfaq4 use the "Bit::Vector" module
       from CPAN. The reason you might choose "Bit::Vector" over the perl
       built-in functions is that it works with numbers of ANY size, that it
       is optimized for speed on some operations, and for at least some
       programmers the notation might be familiar.

       How do I convert hexadecimal into decimal
           Using perl's built in conversion of "0x" notation:

                   $dec = 0xDEADBEEF;

           Using the "hex" function:

                   $dec = hex("DEADBEEF");

           Using "pack":

                   $dec = unpack("N", pack("H8", substr("0" x 8 . "DEADBEEF", -8)));

           Using the CPAN module "Bit::Vector":

                   use Bit::Vector;
                   $vec = Bit::Vector->new_Hex(32, "DEADBEEF");
                   $dec = $vec->to_Dec();

       How do I convert from decimal to hexadecimal
           Using "sprintf":

                   $hex = sprintf("%X", 3735928559); # upper case A-F
                   $hex = sprintf("%x", 3735928559); # lower case a-f

           Using "unpack":

                   $hex = unpack("H*", pack("N", 3735928559));

           Using "Bit::Vector":

                   use Bit::Vector;
                   $vec = Bit::Vector->new_Dec(32, -559038737);
                   $hex = $vec->to_Hex();

           And "Bit::Vector" supports odd bit counts:

                   use Bit::Vector;
                   $vec = Bit::Vector->new_Dec(33, 3735928559);
                   $vec->Resize(32); # suppress leading 0 if unwanted
                   $hex = $vec->to_Hex();

       How do I convert from octal to decimal
           Using Perl's built in conversion of numbers with leading zeros:

       How do I convert from decimal to octal
           Using "sprintf":

                   $oct = sprintf("%o", 3735928559);

           Using "Bit::Vector":

                   use Bit::Vector;
                   $vec = Bit::Vector->new_Dec(32, -559038737);
                   $oct = reverse join('', $vec->Chunk_List_Read(3));

       How do I convert from binary to decimal
           Perl 5.6 lets you write binary numbers directly with the "0b"

                   $number = 0b10110110;

           Using "oct":

                   my $input = "10110110";
                   $decimal = oct( "0b$input" );

           Using "pack" and "ord":

                   $decimal = ord(pack('B8', '10110110'));

           Using "pack" and "unpack" for larger strings:

                   $int = unpack("N", pack("B32",
                   substr("0" x 32 . "11110101011011011111011101111", -32)));
                   $dec = sprintf("%d", $int);

                   # substr() is used to left-pad a 32-character string with zeros.

           Using "Bit::Vector":

                   $vec = Bit::Vector->new_Bin(32, "11011110101011011011111011101111");
                   $dec = $vec->to_Dec();

       How do I convert from decimal to binary
           Using "sprintf" (perl 5.6+):

                   $bin = sprintf("%b", 3735928559);

           Using "unpack":

                   $bin = unpack("B*", pack("N", 3735928559));

           Using "Bit::Vector":

                   use Bit::Vector;
                   $vec = Bit::Vector->new_Dec(32, -559038737);
                   $bin = $vec->to_Bin();

       3).  Saying "11" & "3" performs the "and" operation on strings
       (yielding "1").

       Most problems with "&" and "|" arise because the programmer thinks they
       have a number but really it's a string or vice versa.  To avoid this,
       stringify the arguments explicitly (using "" or "qq()") or convert them
       to numbers explicitly (using "0+$arg"). The rest arise because the
       programmer says:

               if ("\020\020" & "\101\101") {
                       # ...

       but a string consisting of two null bytes (the result of "\020\020" &
       "\101\101") is not a false value in Perl.  You need:

               if ( ("\020\020" & "\101\101") !~ /[^\000]/) {
                       # ...

   How do I multiply matrices?
       Use the "Math::Matrix" or "Math::MatrixReal" modules (available from
       CPAN) or the "PDL" extension (also available from CPAN).

   How do I perform an operation on a series of integers?
       To call a function on each element in an array, and collect the
       results, use:

               @results = map { my_func($_) } @array;

       For example:

               @triple = map { 3 * $_ } @single;

       To call a function on each element of an array, but ignore the results:

               foreach $iterator (@array) {

       To call a function on each integer in a (small) range, you can use:

               @results = map { some_func($_) } (5 .. 25);

       but you should be aware that the ".." operator creates a list of all
       integers in the range.  This can take a lot of memory for large ranges.
       Instead use:

               @results = ();
               for ($i=5; $i <= 500_005; $i++) {
                       push(@results, some_func($i));

       This situation has been fixed in Perl5.005. Use of ".." in a "for" loop

   Why aren't my random numbers random?
       If you're using a version of Perl before 5.004, you must call "srand"
       once at the start of your program to seed the random number generator.

                BEGIN { srand() if $] < 5.004 }

       5.004 and later automatically call "srand" at the beginning.  Don't
       call "srand" more than once--you make your numbers less random, rather
       than more.

       Computers are good at being predictable and bad at being random
       (despite appearances caused by bugs in your programs :-).  The random
       article in the "Far More Than You Ever Wanted To Know" collection in
       <>, courtesy of Tom
       Phoenix, talks more about this.  John von Neumann said, "Anyone who
       attempts to generate random numbers by deterministic means is, of
       course, living in a state of sin."

       If you want numbers that are more random than "rand" with "srand"
       provides, you should also check out the "Math::TrulyRandom" module from
       CPAN.  It uses the imperfections in your system's timer to generate
       random numbers, but this takes quite a while.  If you want a better
       pseudorandom generator than comes with your operating system, look at
       "Numerical Recipes in C" at <>.

   How do I get a random number between X and Y?
       To get a random number between two values, you can use the "rand()"
       built-in to get a random number between 0 and 1. From there, you shift
       that into the range that you want.

       "rand($x)" returns a number such that "0 <= rand($x) < $x". Thus what
       you want to have perl figure out is a random number in the range from 0
       to the difference between your X and Y.

       That is, to get a number between 10 and 15, inclusive, you want a
       random number between 0 and 5 that you can then add to 10.

               my $number = 10 + int rand( 15-10+1 ); # ( 10,11,12,13,14, or 15 )

       Hence you derive the following simple function to abstract that. It
       selects a random integer between the two given integers (inclusive),
       For example: "random_int_between(50,120)".

               sub random_int_between {
                       my($min, $max) = @_;
                       # Assumes that the two arguments are integers themselves!
                       return $min if $min == $max;
                       ($min, $max) = ($max, $min)  if  $min > $max;
                       return $min + int rand(1 + $max - $min);

Data: Dates
   How do I find the day or week of the year?
       The day of the year is in the list returned by the "localtime"
       time in epoch seconds for the argument to "localtime".

               use POSIX qw/mktime strftime/;
               my $week_of_year = strftime "%W",
                       localtime( mktime( 0, 0, 0, 18, 11, 87 ) );

       You can also use "Time::Piece", which comes with Perl and provides a
       "localtime" that returns an object:

               use Time::Piece;
               my $day_of_year  = localtime->yday;
               my $week_of_year = localtime->week;

       The "Date::Calc" module provides two functions to calculate these, too:

               use Date::Calc;
               my $day_of_year  = Day_of_Year(  1987, 12, 18 );
               my $week_of_year = Week_of_Year( 1987, 12, 18 );

   How do I find the current century or millennium?
       Use the following simple functions:

               sub get_century    {
                       return int((((localtime(shift || time))[5] + 1999))/100);

               sub get_millennium {
                       return 1+int((((localtime(shift || time))[5] + 1899))/1000);

       On some systems, the "POSIX" module's "strftime()" function has been
       extended in a non-standard way to use a %C format, which they sometimes
       claim is the "century". It isn't, because on most such systems, this is
       only the first two digits of the four-digit year, and thus cannot be
       used to determine reliably the current century or millennium.

   How can I compare two dates and find the difference?
       (contributed by brian d foy)

       You could just store all your dates as a number and then subtract.
       Life isn't always that simple though.

       The "Time::Piece" module, which comes with Perl, replaces "localtime"
       with a version that returns an object. It also overloads the comparison
       operators so you can compare them directly:

               use Time::Piece;
               my $date1 = localtime( $some_time );
               my $date2 = localtime( $some_other_time );

               if( $date1 < $date2 ) {
                       print "The date was in the past\n";

       "Time::Local" module.  Otherwise, you should look into the
       "Date::Calc", "Date::Parse", and "Date::Manip" modules from CPAN.

   How can I find the Julian Day?
       (contributed by brian d foy and Dave Cross)

       You can use the "Time::Piece" module, part of the Standard Library,
       which can convert a date/time to a Julian Day:

               $ perl -MTime::Piece -le 'print localtime->julian_day'

       Or the modified Julian Day:

               $ perl -MTime::Piece -le 'print localtime->mjd'

       Or even the day of the year (which is what some people think of as a
       Julian day):

               $ perl -MTime::Piece -le 'print localtime->yday'

       You can also do the same things with the "DateTime" module:

               $ perl -MDateTime -le'print DateTime->today->jd'
               $ perl -MDateTime -le'print DateTime->today->mjd'
               $ perl -MDateTime -le'print DateTime->today->doy'

       You can use the "Time::JulianDay" module available on CPAN.  Ensure
       that you really want to find a Julian day, though, as many people have
       different ideas about Julian days (see for instance):

               $  perl -MTime::JulianDay -le 'print local_julian_day( time )'

   How do I find yesterday's date?
       (contributed by brian d foy)

       To do it correctly, you can use one of the "Date" modules since they
       work with calendars instead of times. The "DateTime" module makes it
       simple, and give you the same time of day, only the day before, despite
       daylight saving time changes:

               use DateTime;

               my $yesterday = DateTime->now->subtract( days => 1 );

               print "Yesterday was $yesterday\n";

       from summer time throws this off. For example, the rest of the
       suggestions will be wrong sometimes:

       Starting with Perl 5.10, "Time::Piece" and "Time::Seconds" are part of
       the standard distribution, so you might think that you could do
       something like this:

               use Time::Piece;
               use Time::Seconds;

               my $yesterday = localtime() - ONE_DAY; # WRONG
               print "Yesterday was $yesterday\n";

       The "Time::Piece" module exports a new "localtime" that returns an
       object, and "Time::Seconds" exports the "ONE_DAY" constant that is a
       set number of seconds. This means that it always gives the time 24
       hours ago, which is not always yesterday. This can cause problems
       around the end of daylight saving time when there's one day that is 25
       hours long.

       You have the same problem with "Time::Local", which will give the wrong
       answer for those same special cases:

               # contributed by Gunnar Hjalmarsson
                use Time::Local;
                my $today = timelocal 0, 0, 12, ( localtime )[3..5];
                my ($d, $m, $y) = ( localtime $today-86400 )[3..5]; # WRONG
                printf "Yesterday: %d-%02d-%02d\n", $y+1900, $m+1, $d;

   Does Perl have a Year 2000 or 2038 problem? Is Perl Y2K compliant?
       (contributed by brian d foy)

       Perl itself never had a Y2K problem, although that never stopped people
       from creating Y2K problems on their own. See the documentation for
       "localtime" for its proper use.

       Starting with Perl 5.12, "localtime" and "gmtime" can handle dates past
       03:14:08 January 19, 2038, when a 32-bit based time would overflow. You
       still might get a warning on a 32-bit "perl":

               % perl5.12 -E 'say scalar localtime( 0x9FFF_FFFFFFFF )'
               Integer overflow in hexadecimal number at -e line 1.
               Wed Nov  1 19:42:39 5576711

       On a 64-bit "perl", you can get even larger dates for those really long
       running projects:

               % perl5.12 -E 'say scalar gmtime( 0x9FFF_FFFFFFFF )'
               Thu Nov  2 00:42:39 5576711

       You're still out of luck if you need to keep track of decaying protons

Data: Strings
   How do I unescape a string?
       It depends just what you mean by "escape".  URL escapes are dealt with
       in perlfaq9.  Shell escapes with the backslash ("\") character are
       removed with


       This won't expand "\n" or "\t" or any other special escapes.

   How do I remove consecutive pairs of characters?
       (contributed by brian d foy)

       You can use the substitution operator to find pairs of characters (or
       runs of characters) and replace them with a single instance. In this
       substitution, we find a character in "(.)". The memory parentheses
       store the matched character in the back-reference "\g1" and we use that
       to require that the same thing immediately follow it. We replace that
       part of the string with the character in $1.


       We can also use the transliteration operator, "tr///". In this example,
       the search list side of our "tr///" contains nothing, but the "c"
       option complements that so it contains everything. The replacement list
       also contains nothing, so the transliteration is almost a no-op since
       it won't do any replacements (or more exactly, replace the character
       with itself). However, the "s" option squashes duplicated and
       consecutive characters in the string so a character does not show up
       next to itself

               my $str = 'Haarlem';   # in the Netherlands
               $str =~ tr///cs;       # Now Harlem, like in New York

   How do I expand function calls in a string?
       (contributed by brian d foy)

       This is documented in perlref, and although it's not the easiest thing
       to read, it does work. In each of these examples, we call the function
       inside the braces used to dereference a reference. If we have more than
       one return value, we can construct and dereference an anonymous array.
       In this case, we call the function in list context.

               print "The time values are @{ [localtime] }.\n";

       If we want to call the function in scalar context, we have to do a bit
       more work. We can really have any code we like inside the braces, so we
       simply have to end with the scalar reference, although how you do that
       is up to you, and you can use code inside the braces. Note that the use
       of parens creates a list context, so we need "scalar" to force the
       scalar context on the function:

               print "The time is ${\(scalar localtime)}.\n"

               print "The time is ${ my $x = localtime; \$x }.\n";

               use Interpolation E => 'eval';
               print "The time values are $E{localtime()}.\n";

       In most cases, it is probably easier to simply use string
       concatenation, which also forces scalar context.

               print "The time is " . localtime() . ".\n";

   How do I find matching/nesting anything?
       This isn't something that can be done in one regular expression, no
       matter how complicated.  To find something between two single
       characters, a pattern like "/x([^x]*)x/" will get the intervening bits
       in $1. For multiple ones, then something more like "/alpha(.*?)omega/"
       would be needed. But none of these deals with nested patterns.  For
       balanced expressions using "(", "{", "[" or "<" as delimiters, use the
       CPAN module Regexp::Common, or see "(??{ code })" in perlre.  For other
       cases, you'll have to write a parser.

       If you are serious about writing a parser, there are a number of
       modules or oddities that will make your life a lot easier.  There are
       the CPAN modules "Parse::RecDescent", "Parse::Yapp", and
       "Text::Balanced"; and the "byacc" program. Starting from perl 5.8 the
       "Text::Balanced" is part of the standard distribution.

       One simple destructive, inside-out approach that you might try is to
       pull out the smallest nesting parts one at a time:

               while (s/BEGIN((?:(?!BEGIN)(?!END).)*)END//gs) {
                       # do something with $1

       A more complicated and sneaky approach is to make Perl's regular
       expression engine do it for you.  This is courtesy Dean Inada, and
       rather has the nature of an Obfuscated Perl Contest entry, but it
       really does work:

               # $_ contains the string to parse
               # BEGIN and END are the opening and closing markers for the
               # nested text.

               @( = ('(','');
               @) = (')','');
               @$ = (eval{/$re/},$@!~/unmatched/i);
               print join("\n",@$[0..$#$]) if( $$[-1] );

   How do I reverse a string?
       Use "reverse()" in scalar context, as documented in "reverse" in

               $reversed = reverse $string;

   How do I expand tabs in a string?

               use Text::Wrap;
               print wrap("\t", '  ', @paragraphs);

       The paragraphs you give to "Text::Wrap" should not contain embedded
       newlines.  "Text::Wrap" doesn't justify the lines (flush-right).

       Or use the CPAN module "Text::Autoformat".  Formatting files can be
       easily done by making a shell alias, like so:

               alias fmt="perl -i -MText::Autoformat -n0777 \
                       -e 'print autoformat $_, {all=>1}' $*"

       See the documentation for "Text::Autoformat" to appreciate its many

   How can I access or change N characters of a string?
       You can access the first characters of a string with substr().  To get
       the first character, for example, start at position 0 and grab the
       string of length 1.

               $string = "Just another Perl Hacker";
               $first_char = substr( $string, 0, 1 );  #  'J'

       To change part of a string, you can use the optional fourth argument
       which is the replacement string.

               substr( $string, 13, 4, "Perl 5.8.0" );

       You can also use substr() as an lvalue.

               substr( $string, 13, 4 ) =  "Perl 5.8.0";

   How do I change the Nth occurrence of something?
       You have to keep track of N yourself.  For example, let's say you want
       to change the fifth occurrence of "whoever" or "whomever" into
       "whosoever" or "whomsoever", case insensitively.  These all assume that
       $_ contains the string to be altered.

               $count = 0;
               ++$count == 5       # is it the 5th?
                   ? "${2}soever"  # yes, swap
                   : $1            # renege and leave it there

       In the more general case, you can use the "/g" modifier in a "while"
       loop, keeping count of matches.

               $WANT = 3;
               $count = 0;
               $_ = "One fish two fish red fish blue fish";
               while (/(\w+)\s+fish\b/gi) {
                       if (++$count == $WANT) {

       the "tr///" function like so:

               $string = "ThisXlineXhasXsomeXx'sXinXit";
               $count = ($string =~ tr/X//);
               print "There are $count X characters in the string";

       This is fine if you are just looking for a single character.  However,
       if you are trying to count multiple character substrings within a
       larger string, "tr///" won't work.  What you can do is wrap a while()
       loop around a global pattern match.  For example, let's count negative

               $string = "-9 55 48 -2 23 -76 4 14 -44";
               while ($string =~ /-\d+/g) { $count++ }
               print "There are $count negative numbers in the string";

       Another version uses a global match in list context, then assigns the
       result to a scalar, producing a count of the number of matches.

               $count = () = $string =~ /-\d+/g;

   How do I capitalize all the words on one line?
       (contributed by brian d foy)

       Damian Conway's Text::Autoformat handles all of the thinking for you.

               use Text::Autoformat;
               my $x = "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop ".
                 "Worrying and Love the Bomb";

               print $x, "\n";
               for my $style (qw( sentence title highlight )) {
                       print autoformat($x, { case => $style }), "\n";

       How do you want to capitalize those words?

               FRED AND BARNEY'S LODGE        # all uppercase
               Fred And Barney's Lodge        # title case
               Fred and Barney's Lodge        # highlight case

       It's not as easy a problem as it looks. How many words do you think are
       in there? Wait for it... wait for it.... If you answered 5 you're
       right. Perl words are groups of "\w+", but that's not what you want to
       capitalize. How is Perl supposed to know not to capitalize that "s"
       after the apostrophe? You could try a regular expression:

               $string =~ s/ (
                                        (^\w)    #at the beginning of the line
                                          |      # or
                                        (\s\w)   #preceded by whitespace

       you shouldn't split if the comma is inside quotes.  For example, take a
       data line like this:

               SAR001,"","Cimetrix, Inc","Bob Smith","CAM",N,8,1,0,7,"Error, Core Dumped"

       Due to the restriction of the quotes, this is a fairly complex problem.
       Thankfully, we have Jeffrey Friedl, author of Mastering Regular
       Expressions, to handle these for us.  He suggests (assuming your string
       is contained in $text):

                @new = ();
                push(@new, $+) while $text =~ m{
                        "([^\"\\]*(?:\\.[^\"\\]*)*)",?  # groups the phrase inside the quotes
                       | ([^,]+),?
                       | ,
                push(@new, undef) if substr($text,-1,1) eq ',';

       If you want to represent quotation marks inside a quotation-mark-
       delimited field, escape them with backslashes (eg, "like \"this\"".

       Alternatively, the "Text::ParseWords" module (part of the standard Perl
       distribution) lets you say:

               use Text::ParseWords;
               @new = quotewords(",", 0, $text);

   How do I strip blank space from the beginning/end of a string?
       (contributed by brian d foy)

       A substitution can do this for you. For a single line, you want to
       replace all the leading or trailing whitespace with nothing. You can do
       that with a pair of substitutions:


       You can also write that as a single substitution, although it turns out
       the combined statement is slower than the separate ones. That might not
       matter to you, though:


       In this regular expression, the alternation matches either at the
       beginning or the end of the string since the anchors have a lower
       precedence than the alternation. With the "/g" flag, the substitution
       makes all possible matches, so it gets both. Remember, the trailing
       newline matches the "\s+", and  the "$" anchor can match to the
       absolute end of the string, so the newline disappears too. Just add the
       newline to the output, which has the added benefit of preserving
       "blank" (consisting entirely of whitespace) lines which the "^\s+"
       would remove all by itself:

               while( <> ) {

       Remember that lines consisting entirely of whitespace will disappear,
       since the first part of the alternation can match the entire string and
       replace it with nothing. If you need to keep embedded blank lines, you
       have to do a little more work. Instead of matching any whitespace
       (since that includes a newline), just match the other whitespace:

               $string =~ s/^[\t\f ]+|[\t\f ]+$//mg;

   How do I pad a string with blanks or pad a number with zeroes?
       In the following examples, $pad_len is the length to which you wish to
       pad the string, $text or $num contains the string to be padded, and
       $pad_char contains the padding character. You can use a single
       character string constant instead of the $pad_char variable if you know
       what it is in advance. And in the same way you can use an integer in
       place of $pad_len if you know the pad length in advance.

       The simplest method uses the "sprintf" function. It can pad on the left
       or right with blanks and on the left with zeroes and it will not
       truncate the result. The "pack" function can only pad strings on the
       right with blanks and it will truncate the result to a maximum length
       of $pad_len.

               # Left padding a string with blanks (no truncation):
               $padded = sprintf("%${pad_len}s", $text);
               $padded = sprintf("%*s", $pad_len, $text);  # same thing

               # Right padding a string with blanks (no truncation):
               $padded = sprintf("%-${pad_len}s", $text);
               $padded = sprintf("%-*s", $pad_len, $text); # same thing

               # Left padding a number with 0 (no truncation):
               $padded = sprintf("%0${pad_len}d", $num);
               $padded = sprintf("%0*d", $pad_len, $num); # same thing

               # Right padding a string with blanks using pack (will truncate):
               $padded = pack("A$pad_len",$text);

       If you need to pad with a character other than blank or zero you can
       use one of the following methods.  They all generate a pad string with
       the "x" operator and combine that with $text. These methods do not
       truncate $text.

       Left and right padding with any character, creating a new string:

               $padded = $pad_char x ( $pad_len - length( $text ) ) . $text;
               $padded = $text . $pad_char x ( $pad_len - length( $text ) );

       Left and right padding with any character, modifying $text directly:

               substr( $text, 0, 0 ) = $pad_char x ( $pad_len - length( $text ) );
               $text .= $pad_char x ( $pad_len - length( $text ) );

   How do I extract selected columns from a string?
       (contributed by brian d foy)
                       # ( '', 'fred', 'barney', 'betty' );

               my $line    = 'fred||barney||betty';
               my @columns = split /\|/, $line;
                       # ( 'fred', '', 'barney', '', 'betty' );

       If you want to work with comma-separated values, don't do this since
       that format is a bit more complicated. Use one of the modules that
       handle that format, such as "Text::CSV", "Text::CSV_XS", or

       If you want to break apart an entire line of fixed columns, you can use
       "unpack" with the A (ASCII) format. By using a number after the format
       specifier, you can denote the column width. See the "pack" and "unpack"
       entries in perlfunc for more details.

               my @fields = unpack( $line, "A8 A8 A8 A16 A4" );

       Note that spaces in the format argument to "unpack" do not denote
       literal spaces. If you have space separated data, you may want "split"

   How do I find the soundex value of a string?
       (contributed by brian d foy)

       You can use the Text::Soundex module. If you want to do fuzzy or close
       matching, you might also try the "String::Approx", and
       "Text::Metaphone", and "Text::DoubleMetaphone" modules.

   How can I expand variables in text strings?
       (contributed by brian d foy)

       If you can avoid it, don't, or if you can use a templating system, such
       as "Text::Template" or "Template" Toolkit, do that instead. You might
       even be able to get the job done with "sprintf" or "printf":

               my $string = sprintf 'Say hello to %s and %s', $foo, $bar;

       However, for the one-off simple case where I don't want to pull out a
       full templating system, I'll use a string that has two Perl scalar
       variables in it. In this example, I want to expand $foo and $bar to
       their variable's values:

               my $foo = 'Fred';
               my $bar = 'Barney';
               $string = 'Say hello to $foo and $bar';

       One way I can do this involves the substitution operator and a double
       "/e" flag.  The first "/e" evaluates $1 on the replacement side and
       turns it into $foo. The second /e starts with $foo and replaces it with
       its value. $foo, then, turns into 'Fred', and that's finally what's
       left in the string:

               $string =~ s/(\$\w+)/$1/eeg; # 'Say hello to Fred and Barney'

       that I missed something:

               my $string = 'This has $foo and $bar';

               my %Replacements = (
                       foo  => 'Fred',

               # $string =~ s/\$(\w+)/$Replacements{$1}/g;
               $string =~ s/\$(\w+)/
                       exists $Replacements{$1} ? $Replacements{$1} : '???'

               print $string;

   What's wrong with always quoting "$vars"?
       The problem is that those double-quotes force stringification--coercing
       numbers and references into strings--even when you don't want them to
       be strings.  Think of it this way: double-quote expansion is used to
       produce new strings.  If you already have a string, why do you need

       If you get used to writing odd things like these:

               print "$var";           # BAD
               $new = "$old";          # BAD
               somefunc("$var");       # BAD

       You'll be in trouble.  Those should (in 99.8% of the cases) be the
       simpler and more direct:

               print $var;
               $new = $old;

       Otherwise, besides slowing you down, you're going to break code when
       the thing in the scalar is actually neither a string nor a number, but
       a reference:

               sub func {
                       my $aref = shift;
                       my $oref = "$aref";  # WRONG

       You can also get into subtle problems on those few operations in Perl
       that actually do care about the difference between a string and a
       number, such as the magical "++" autoincrement operator or the
       syscall() function.

       Stringification also destroys arrays.

               @lines = `command`;
               print "@lines";     # WRONG - extra blanks

           # all in one
           ($VAR = <<HERE_TARGET) =~ s/^\s+//gm;
               your text
               goes here

       But the HERE_TARGET must still be flush against the margin.  If you
       want that indented also, you'll have to quote in the indentation.

           ($quote = <<'    FINIS') =~ s/^\s+//gm;
                   ...we will have peace, when you and all your works have
                   perished--and the works of your dark master to whom you
                   would deliver us. You are a liar, Saruman, and a corrupter
                   of men's hearts.  --Theoden in /usr/src/perl/taint.c
           $quote =~ s/\s+--/\n--/;

       A nice general-purpose fixer-upper function for indented here documents
       follows.  It expects to be called with a here document as its argument.
       It looks to see whether each line begins with a common substring, and
       if so, strips that substring off.  Otherwise, it takes the amount of
       leading whitespace found on the first line and removes that much off
       each subsequent line.

           sub fix {
               local $_ = shift;
               my ($white, $leader);  # common whitespace and common leading string
               if (/^\s*(?:([^\w\s]+)(\s*).*\n)(?:\s*\g1\g2?.*\n)+$/) {
                   ($white, $leader) = ($2, quotemeta($1));
               } else {
                   ($white, $leader) = (/^(\s+)/, '');
               return $_;

       This works with leading special strings, dynamically determined:

               $remember_the_main = fix<<'    MAIN_INTERPRETER_LOOP';
               @@@ int
               @@@ runops() {
               @@@     SAVEI32(runlevel);
               @@@     runlevel++;
               @@@     while ( op = (*op->op_ppaddr)() );
               @@@     TAINT_NOT;
               @@@     return 0;
               @@@ }

       Or with a fixed amount of leading whitespace, with remaining
       indentation correctly preserved:

               $poem = fix<<EVER_ON_AND_ON;
              Now far ahead the Road has gone,

       A list is a fixed collection of scalars. An array is a variable that
       holds a variable collection of scalars. An array can supply its
       collection for list operations, so list operations also work on arrays:

               # slices
               ( 'dog', 'cat', 'bird' )[2,3];

               # iteration
               foreach ( qw( dog cat bird ) ) { ... }
               foreach ( @animals ) { ... }

               my @three = grep { length == 3 } qw( dog cat bird );
               my @three = grep { length == 3 } @animals;

               # supply an argument list
               wash_animals( qw( dog cat bird ) );
               wash_animals( @animals );

       Array operations, which change the scalars, rearranges them, or adds or
       subtracts some scalars, only work on arrays. These can't work on a
       list, which is fixed. Array operations include "shift", "unshift",
       "push", "pop", and "splice".

       An array can also change its length:

               $#animals = 1;  # truncate to two elements
               $#animals = 10000; # pre-extend to 10,001 elements

       You can change an array element, but you can't change a list element:

               $animals[0] = 'Rottweiler';
               qw( dog cat bird )[0] = 'Rottweiler'; # syntax error!

               foreach ( @animals ) {
                       s/^d/fr/;  # works fine

               foreach ( qw( dog cat bird ) ) {
                       s/^d/fr/;  # Error! Modification of read only value!

       However, if the list element is itself a variable, it appears that you
       can change a list element. However, the list element is the variable,
       not the data. You're not changing the list element, but something the
       list element refers to. The list element itself doesn't change: it's
       still the same variable.

       You also have to be careful about context. You can assign an array to a
       scalar to get the number of elements in the array. This only works for
       arrays, though:

               my $count = @animals;  # only works with arrays

       because they choose a list-lookalike whose last element is also the
       count they expect:

               my $scalar = ( 1, 2, 3 );  # $scalar gets 3, accidentally

   What is the difference between $array[1] and @array[1]?
       (contributed by brian d foy)

       The difference is the sigil, that special character in front of the
       array name. The "$" sigil means "exactly one item", while the "@" sigil
       means "zero or more items". The "$" gets you a single scalar, while the
       "@" gets you a list.

       The confusion arises because people incorrectly assume that the sigil
       denotes the variable type.

       The $array[1] is a single-element access to the array. It's going to
       return the item in index 1 (or undef if there is no item there).  If
       you intend to get exactly one element from the array, this is the form
       you should use.

       The @array[1] is an array slice, although it has only one index.  You
       can pull out multiple elements simultaneously by specifying additional
       indices as a list, like @array[1,4,3,0].

       Using a slice on the lefthand side of the assignment supplies list
       context to the righthand side. This can lead to unexpected results.
       For instance, if you want to read a single line from a filehandle,
       assigning to a scalar value is fine:

               $array[1] = <STDIN>;

       However, in list context, the line input operator returns all of the
       lines as a list. The first line goes into @array[1] and the rest of the
       lines mysteriously disappear:

               @array[1] = <STDIN>;  # most likely not what you want

       Either the "use warnings" pragma or the -w flag will warn you when you
       use an array slice with a single index.

   How can I remove duplicate elements from a list or array?
       (contributed by brian d foy)

       Use a hash. When you think the words "unique" or "duplicated", think
       "hash keys".

       If you don't care about the order of the elements, you could just
       create the hash then extract the keys. It's not important how you
       create that hash: just that you use "keys" to get the unique elements.

               my %hash   = map { $_, 1 } @array;
               # or a hash slice: @hash{ @array } = ();
               # or a foreach: $hash{$_} = 1 foreach ( @array );

       You can also go through each element and skip the ones you've seen
       before. Use a hash to keep track. The first time the loop sees an
       element, that element has no key in %Seen. The "next" statement creates
       the key and immediately uses its value, which is "undef", so the loop
       continues to the "push" and increments the value for that key. The next
       time the loop sees that same element, its key exists in the hash and
       the value for that key is true (since it's not 0 or "undef"), so the
       next skips that iteration and the loop goes to the next element.

               my @unique = ();
               my %seen   = ();

               foreach my $elem ( @array )
                       next if $seen{ $elem }++;
                       push @unique, $elem;

       You can write this more briefly using a grep, which does the same

               my %seen = ();
               my @unique = grep { ! $seen{ $_ }++ } @array;

   How can I tell whether a certain element is contained in a list or array?
       (portions of this answer contributed by Anno Siegel and brian d foy)

       Hearing the word "in" is an indication that you probably should have
       used a hash, not a list or array, to store your data.  Hashes are
       designed to answer this question quickly and efficiently.  Arrays

       That being said, there are several ways to approach this.  In Perl 5.10
       and later, you can use the smart match operator to check that an item
       is contained in an array or a hash:

               use 5.010;

               if( $item ~~ @array )
                       say "The array contains $item"

               if( $item ~~ %hash )
                       say "The hash contains $item"

       With earlier versions of Perl, you have to do a bit more work. If you
       are going to make this query many times over arbitrary string values,
       the fastest way is probably to invert the original array and maintain a
       hash whose keys are the first array's values:

               for (@primes) { $is_tiny_prime[$_] = 1 }
               # or simply  @istiny_prime[@primes] = (1) x @primes;

       Now you check whether $is_tiny_prime[$some_number].

       If the values in question are integers instead of strings, you can save
       quite a lot of space by using bit strings instead:

               @articles = ( 1..10, 150..2000, 2017 );
               undef $read;
               for (@articles) { vec($read,$_,1) = 1 }

       Now check whether "vec($read,$n,1)" is true for some $n.

       These methods guarantee fast individual tests but require a re-
       organization of the original list or array.  They only pay off if you
       have to test multiple values against the same array.

       If you are testing only once, the standard module "List::Util" exports
       the function "first" for this purpose.  It works by stopping once it
       finds the element. It's written in C for speed, and its Perl equivalent
       looks like this subroutine:

               sub first (&@) {
                       my $code = shift;
                       foreach (@_) {
                               return $_ if &{$code}();

       If speed is of little concern, the common idiom uses grep in scalar
       context (which returns the number of items that passed its condition)
       to traverse the entire list. This does have the benefit of telling you
       how many matches it found, though.

               my $is_there = grep $_ eq $whatever, @array;

       If you want to actually extract the matching elements, simply use grep
       in list context.

               my @matches = grep $_ eq $whatever, @array;

   How do I compute the difference of two arrays?  How do I compute the
       intersection of two arrays?
       Use a hash.  Here's code to do both and more.  It assumes that each
       element is unique in a given array:

               @union = @intersection = @difference = ();
               %count = ();
               foreach $element (@array1, @array2) { $count{$element}++ }
               foreach $element (keys %count) {
                       push @union, $element;
                       push @{ $count{$element} > 1 ? \@intersection : \@difference }, $element;
                       say "The arrays are the same";

               if( %hash1 ~~ %hash2 ) # doesn't check values!
                       say "The hash keys are the same";

       The following code works for single-level arrays.  It uses a stringwise
       comparison, and does not distinguish defined versus undefined empty
       strings.  Modify if you have other needs.

               $are_equal = compare_arrays(\@frogs, \@toads);

               sub compare_arrays {
                       my ($first, $second) = @_;
                       no warnings;  # silence spurious -w undef complaints
                       return 0 unless @$first == @$second;
                       for (my $i = 0; $i < @$first; $i++) {
                               return 0 if $first->[$i] ne $second->[$i];
                       return 1;

       For multilevel structures, you may wish to use an approach more like
       this one.  It uses the CPAN module "FreezeThaw":

               use FreezeThaw qw(cmpStr);
               @a = @b = ( "this", "that", [ "more", "stuff" ] );

               printf "a and b contain %s arrays\n",
                       cmpStr(\@a, \@b) == 0
                       ? "the same"
                       : "different";

       This approach also works for comparing hashes.  Here we'll demonstrate
       two different answers:

               use FreezeThaw qw(cmpStr cmpStrHard);

               %a = %b = ( "this" => "that", "extra" => [ "more", "stuff" ] );
               $a{EXTRA} = \%b;
               $b{EXTRA} = \%a;

               printf "a and b contain %s hashes\n",
               cmpStr(\%a, \%b) == 0 ? "the same" : "different";

               printf "a and b contain %s hashes\n",
               cmpStrHard(\%a, \%b) == 0 ? "the same" : "different";

       The first reports that both those the hashes contain the same data,
       while the second reports that they do not.  Which you prefer is left as
       an exercise to the reader.

               my $found;
               foreach ( @array ) {
                       if( /Perl/ ) { $found = $_; last }

       If you want the array index, you can iterate through the indices and
       check the array element at each index until you find one that satisfies
       the condition.

               my( $found, $index ) = ( undef, -1 );
               for( $i = 0; $i < @array; $i++ ) {
                       if( $array[$i] =~ /Perl/ ) {
                               $found = $array[$i];
                               $index = $i;

   How do I handle linked lists?
       (contributed by brian d foy)

       Perl's arrays do not have a fixed size, so you don't need linked lists
       if you just want to add or remove items. You can use array operations
       such as "push", "pop", "shift", "unshift", or "splice" to do that.

       Sometimes, however, linked lists can be useful in situations where you
       want to "shard" an array so you have have many small arrays instead of
       a single big array. You can keep arrays longer than Perl's largest
       array index, lock smaller arrays separately in threaded programs,
       reallocate less memory, or quickly insert elements in the middle of the

       Steve Lembark goes through the details in his YAPC::NA 2009 talk "Perly
       Linked Lists" ( ),
       although you can just use his "LinkedList::Single" module.

   How do I handle circular lists?
       (contributed by brian d foy)

       If you want to cycle through an array endlessly, you can increment the
       index modulo the number of elements in the array:

               my @array = qw( a b c );
               my $i = 0;

               while( 1 ) {
                       print $array[ $i++ % @array ], "\n";
                       last if $i > 20;

       You can also use "Tie::Cycle" to use a scalar that always has the next
       element of the circular array:

               my $color_iterator = Array::Iterator::Circular->new(
                       qw(red green blue orange)

               foreach ( 1 .. 20 ) {
                       print $color_iterator->next, "\n";

   How do I shuffle an array randomly?
       If you either have Perl 5.8.0 or later installed, or if you have
       Scalar-List-Utils 1.03 or later installed, you can say:

               use List::Util 'shuffle';

               @shuffled = shuffle(@list);

       If not, you can use a Fisher-Yates shuffle.

               sub fisher_yates_shuffle {
                       my $deck = shift;  # $deck is a reference to an array
                       return unless @$deck; # must not be empty!

                       my $i = @$deck;
                       while (--$i) {
                               my $j = int rand ($i+1);
                               @$deck[$i,$j] = @$deck[$j,$i];

               # shuffle my mpeg collection
               my @mpeg = <audio/*/*.mp3>;
               fisher_yates_shuffle( \@mpeg );    # randomize @mpeg in place
               print @mpeg;

       Note that the above implementation shuffles an array in place, unlike
       the "List::Util::shuffle()" which takes a list and returns a new
       shuffled list.

       You've probably seen shuffling algorithms that work using splice,
       randomly picking another element to swap the current element with

               @new = ();
               @old = 1 .. 10;  # just a demo
               while (@old) {
                       push(@new, splice(@old, rand @old, 1));

       This is bad because splice is already O(N), and since you do it N
       times, you just invented a quadratic algorithm; that is, O(N**2).  This
       does not scale, although Perl is so efficient that you probably won't
       notice this until you have rather largish arrays.
                       $_ **= 3;
                       $_ *= (4/3) * 3.14159;  # this will be constant folded

       which can also be done with "map()" which is made to transform one list
       into another:

               @volumes = map {$_ ** 3 * (4/3) * 3.14159} @radii;

       If you want to do the same thing to modify the values of the hash, you
       can use the "values" function.  As of Perl 5.6 the values are not
       copied, so if you modify $orbit (in this case), you modify the value.

               for $orbit ( values %orbits ) {
                       ($orbit **= 3) *= (4/3) * 3.14159;

       Prior to perl 5.6 "values" returned copies of the values, so older perl
       code often contains constructions such as @orbits{keys %orbits} instead
       of "values %orbits" where the hash is to be modified.

   How do I select a random element from an array?
       Use the "rand()" function (see "rand" in perlfunc):

               $index   = rand @array;
               $element = $array[$index];

       Or, simply:

               my $element = $array[ rand @array ];

   How do I permute N elements of a list?
       Use the "List::Permutor" module on CPAN. If the list is actually an
       array, try the "Algorithm::Permute" module (also on CPAN). It's written
       in XS code and is very efficient:

               use Algorithm::Permute;

               my @array = 'a'..'d';
               my $p_iterator = Algorithm::Permute->new ( \@array );

               while (my @perm = $p_iterator->next) {
                  print "next permutation: (@perm)\n";

       For even faster execution, you could do:

               use Algorithm::Permute;

               my @array = 'a'..'d';

               Algorithm::Permute::permute {
                       print "next permutation: (@array)\n";
                       } @array;
                       while ( $code->(@_[@idx]) ) {
                               my $p = $#idx;
                               --$p while $idx[$p-1] > $idx[$p];
                               my $q = $p or return;
                               push @idx, reverse splice @idx, $p;
                               ++$q while $idx[$p-1] > $idx[$q];

               permute { print "@_\n" } split;

       The "Algorithm::Loops" module also provides the "NextPermute" and
       "NextPermuteNum" functions which efficiently find all unique
       permutations of an array, even if it contains duplicate values,
       modifying it in-place: if its elements are in reverse-sorted order then
       the array is reversed, making it sorted, and it returns false;
       otherwise the next permutation is returned.

       "NextPermute" uses string order and "NextPermuteNum" numeric order, so
       you can enumerate all the permutations of 0..9 like this:

               use Algorithm::Loops qw(NextPermuteNum);

           my @list= 0..9;
           do { print "@list\n" } while NextPermuteNum @list;

   How do I sort an array by (anything)?
       Supply a comparison function to sort() (described in "sort" in

               @list = sort { $a <=> $b } @list;

       The default sort function is cmp, string comparison, which would sort
       "(1, 2, 10)" into "(1, 10, 2)".  "<=>", used above, is the numerical
       comparison operator.

       If you have a complicated function needed to pull out the part you want
       to sort on, then don't do it inside the sort function.  Pull it out
       first, because the sort BLOCK can be called many times for the same
       element.  Here's an example of how to pull out the first word after the
       first number on each item, and then sort those words case-

               @idx = ();
               for (@data) {
                       ($item) = /\d+\s*(\S+)/;
                       push @idx, uc($item);
               @sorted = @data[ sort { $idx[$a] cmp $idx[$b] } 0 .. $#idx ];

       which could also be written this way, using a trick that's come to be
       known as the Schwartzian Transform:

       This can be conveniently combined with precalculation of keys as given

       See the sort article in the "Far More Than You Ever Wanted To Know"
       collection in for more
       about this approach.

       See also the question later in perlfaq4 on sorting hashes.

   How do I manipulate arrays of bits?
       Use "pack()" and "unpack()", or else "vec()" and the bitwise

       For example, you don't have to store individual bits in an array (which
       would mean that you're wasting a lot of space). To convert an array of
       bits to a string, use "vec()" to set the right bits. This sets $vec to
       have bit N set only if $ints[N] was set:

               @ints = (...); # array of bits, e.g. ( 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0 ... )
               $vec = '';
               foreach( 0 .. $#ints ) {
                       vec($vec,$_,1) = 1 if $ints[$_];

       The string $vec only takes up as many bits as it needs. For instance,
       if you had 16 entries in @ints, $vec only needs two bytes to store them
       (not counting the scalar variable overhead).

       Here's how, given a vector in $vec, you can get those bits into your
       @ints array:

               sub bitvec_to_list {
                       my $vec = shift;
                       my @ints;
                       # Find null-byte density then select best algorithm
                       if ($vec =~ tr/\0// / length $vec > 0.95) {
                               use integer;
                               my $i;

                               # This method is faster with mostly null-bytes
                               while($vec =~ /[^\0]/g ) {
                                       $i = -9 + 8 * pos $vec;
                                       push @ints, $i if vec($vec, ++$i, 1);
                                       push @ints, $i if vec($vec, ++$i, 1);
                                       push @ints, $i if vec($vec, ++$i, 1);
                                       push @ints, $i if vec($vec, ++$i, 1);
                                       push @ints, $i if vec($vec, ++$i, 1);
                                       push @ints, $i if vec($vec, ++$i, 1);
                                       push @ints, $i if vec($vec, ++$i, 1);
                                       push @ints, $i if vec($vec, ++$i, 1);
                       else {

       You can make the while loop a lot shorter with this suggestion from
       Benjamin Goldberg:

               while($vec =~ /[^\0]+/g ) {
                       push @ints, grep vec($vec, $_, 1), $-[0] * 8 .. $+[0] * 8;

       Or use the CPAN module "Bit::Vector":

               $vector = Bit::Vector->new($num_of_bits);
               @ints = $vector->Index_List_Read();

       "Bit::Vector" provides efficient methods for bit vector, sets of small
       integers and "big int" math.

       Here's a more extensive illustration using vec():

               # vec demo
               $vector = "\xff\x0f\xef\xfe";
               print "Ilya's string \\xff\\x0f\\xef\\xfe represents the number ",
               unpack("N", $vector), "\n";
               $is_set = vec($vector, 23, 1);
               print "Its 23rd bit is ", $is_set ? "set" : "clear", ".\n";




               sub set_vec {
                       my ($offset, $width, $value) = @_;
                       my $vector = '';
                       vec($vector, $offset, $width) = $value;
                       print "offset=$offset width=$width value=$value\n";

               sub pvec {
                       my $vector = shift;
                       my $bits = unpack("b*", $vector);
                       my $i = 0;
                       my $BASE = 8;

   How do I process an entire hash?
       (contributed by brian d foy)

       There are a couple of ways that you can process an entire hash. You can
       get a list of keys, then go through each key, or grab a one key-value
       pair at a time.

       To go through all of the keys, use the "keys" function. This extracts
       all of the keys of the hash and gives them back to you as a list. You
       can then get the value through the particular key you're processing:

               foreach my $key ( keys %hash ) {
                       my $value = $hash{$key}

       Once you have the list of keys, you can process that list before you
       process the hash elements. For instance, you can sort the keys so you
       can process them in lexical order:

               foreach my $key ( sort keys %hash ) {
                       my $value = $hash{$key}

       Or, you might want to only process some of the items. If you only want
       to deal with the keys that start with "text:", you can select just
       those using "grep":

               foreach my $key ( grep /^text:/, keys %hash ) {
                       my $value = $hash{$key}

       If the hash is very large, you might not want to create a long list of
       keys. To save some memory, you can grab one key-value pair at a time
       using "each()", which returns a pair you haven't seen yet:

               while( my( $key, $value ) = each( %hash ) ) {

       The "each" operator returns the pairs in apparently random order, so if
       ordering matters to you, you'll have to stick with the "keys" method.

       The "each()" operator can be a bit tricky though. You can't add or
       delete keys of the hash while you're using it without possibly skipping
       or re-processing some pairs after Perl internally rehashes all of the
       elements. Additionally, a hash has only one iterator, so if you use
       "keys", "values", or "each" on the same hash, you can reset the
       iterator and mess up your processing. See the "each" entry in perlfunc
       for more details.

   How do I merge two hashes?

               foreach my $key2 ( keys %hash2 )
                       if( exists $new_hash{$key2} )
                               warn "Key [$key2] is in both hashes!";
                               # handle the duplicate (perhaps only warning)
                               $new_hash{$key2} = $hash2{$key2};

       If you don't want to create a new hash, you can still use this looping
       technique; just change the %new_hash to %hash1.

               foreach my $key2 ( keys %hash2 )
                       if( exists $hash1{$key2} )
                               warn "Key [$key2] is in both hashes!";
                               # handle the duplicate (perhaps only warning)
                               $hash1{$key2} = $hash2{$key2};

       If you don't care that one hash overwrites keys and values from the
       other, you could just use a hash slice to add one hash to another. In
       this case, values from %hash2 replace values from %hash1 when they have
       keys in common:

               @hash1{ keys %hash2 } = values %hash2;

   What happens if I add or remove keys from a hash while iterating over it?
       (contributed by brian d foy)

       The easy answer is "Don't do that!"

       If you iterate through the hash with each(), you can delete the key
       most recently returned without worrying about it.  If you delete or add
       other keys, the iterator may skip or double up on them since perl may
       rearrange the hash table.  See the entry for "each()" in perlfunc.

   How do I look up a hash element by value?
       Create a reverse hash:

       it does worry you, you can always reverse the hash into a hash of
       arrays instead:

               while (($key, $value) = each %by_key) {
                        push @{$key_list_by_value{$value}}, $key;

   How can I know how many entries are in a hash?
       (contributed by brian d foy)

       This is very similar to "How do I process an entire hash?", also in
       perlfaq4, but a bit simpler in the common cases.

       You can use the "keys()" built-in function in scalar context to find
       out have many entries you have in a hash:

               my $key_count = keys %hash; # must be scalar context!

       If you want to find out how many entries have a defined value, that's a
       bit different. You have to check each value. A "grep" is handy:

               my $defined_value_count = grep { defined } values %hash;

       You can use that same structure to count the entries any way that you
       like. If you want the count of the keys with vowels in them, you just
       test for that instead:

               my $vowel_count = grep { /[aeiou]/ } keys %hash;

       The "grep" in scalar context returns the count. If you want the list of
       matching items, just use it in list context instead:

               my @defined_values = grep { defined } values %hash;

       The "keys()" function also resets the iterator, which means that you
       may see strange results if you use this between uses of other hash
       operators such as "each()".

   How do I sort a hash (optionally by value instead of key)?
       (contributed by brian d foy)

       To sort a hash, start with the keys. In this example, we give the list
       of keys to the sort function which then compares them ASCIIbetically
       (which might be affected by your locale settings). The output list has
       the keys in ASCIIbetical order. Once we have the keys, we can go
       through them to create a report which lists the keys in ASCIIbetical

               my @keys = sort { $a cmp $b } keys %hash;

               foreach my $key ( @keys )
                       printf "%-20s %6d\n", $key, $hash{$key};

       Note: if the computation is expensive or the hash has many elements,
       you may want to look at the Schwartzian Transform to cache the
       computation results.

       If we want to sort by the hash value instead, we use the hash key to
       look it up. We still get out a list of keys, but this time they are
       ordered by their value.

               my @keys = sort { $hash{$a} <=> $hash{$b} } keys %hash;

       From there we can get more complex. If the hash values are the same, we
       can provide a secondary sort on the hash key.

               my @keys = sort {
                       $hash{$a} <=> $hash{$b}
                       "\L$a" cmp "\L$b"
                       } keys %hash;

   How can I always keep my hash sorted?
       You can look into using the "DB_File" module and "tie()" using the
       $DB_BTREE hash bindings as documented in "In Memory Databases" in
       DB_File. The "Tie::IxHash" module from CPAN might also be instructive.
       Although this does keep your hash sorted, you might not like the
       slowdown you suffer from the tie interface. Are you sure you need to do
       this? :)

   What's the difference between "delete" and "undef" with hashes?
       Hashes contain pairs of scalars: the first is the key, the second is
       the value.  The key will be coerced to a string, although the value can
       be any kind of scalar: string, number, or reference.  If a key $key is
       present in %hash, "exists($hash{$key})" will return true.  The value
       for a given key can be "undef", in which case $hash{$key} will be
       "undef" while "exists $hash{$key}" will return true.  This corresponds
       to ($key, "undef") being in the hash.

       Pictures help...  Here's the %hash table:

                 keys  values
               |  a   |  3   |
               |  x   |  7   |
               |  d   |  0   |
               |  e   |  2   |

       And these conditions hold

               $hash{'a'}                       is true
               $hash{'d'}                       is false
               defined $hash{'d'}               is true
               defined $hash{'a'}               is true
               exists $hash{'a'}                is true (Perl 5 only)
               grep ($_ eq 'a', keys %hash)     is true
               |  e   |  2   |

       and these conditions now hold; changes in caps:

               $hash{'a'}                       is FALSE
               $hash{'d'}                       is false
               defined $hash{'d'}               is true
               defined $hash{'a'}               is FALSE
               exists $hash{'a'}                is true (Perl 5 only)
               grep ($_ eq 'a', keys %hash)     is true

       Notice the last two: you have an undef value, but a defined key!

       Now, consider this:

               delete $hash{'a'}

       your table now reads:

                 keys  values
               |  x   |  7   |
               |  d   |  0   |
               |  e   |  2   |

       and these conditions now hold; changes in caps:

               $hash{'a'}                       is false
               $hash{'d'}                       is false
               defined $hash{'d'}               is true
               defined $hash{'a'}               is false
               exists $hash{'a'}                is FALSE (Perl 5 only)
               grep ($_ eq 'a', keys %hash)     is FALSE

       See, the whole entry is gone!

   Why don't my tied hashes make the defined/exists distinction?
       This depends on the tied hash's implementation of EXISTS().  For
       example, there isn't the concept of undef with hashes that are tied to
       DBM* files. It also means that exists() and defined() do the same thing
       with a DBM* file, and what they end up doing is not what they do with
       ordinary hashes.

   How do I reset an each() operation part-way through?
       (contributed by brian d foy)

       You can use the "keys" or "values" functions to reset "each". To simply
       reset the iterator used by "each" without doing anything else, use one
       of them in void context:

               keys %hash; # resets iterator, nothing else.
               values %hash; # resets iterator, nothing else.

       Or more succinctly:

               @uniq = keys %{{%foo,%bar}};

       Or if you really want to save space:

               %seen = ();
               while (defined ($key = each %foo)) {
               while (defined ($key = each %bar)) {
               @uniq = keys %seen;

   How can I store a multidimensional array in a DBM file?
       Either stringify the structure yourself (no fun), or else get the MLDBM
       (which uses Data::Dumper) module from CPAN and layer it on top of
       either DB_File or GDBM_File. You might also try DBM::Deep, but it can
       be a bit slow.

   How can I make my hash remember the order I put elements into it?
       Use the "Tie::IxHash" from CPAN.

               use Tie::IxHash;

               tie my %myhash, 'Tie::IxHash';

               for (my $i=0; $i<20; $i++) {
                       $myhash{$i} = 2*$i;

               my @keys = keys %myhash;
               # @keys = (0,1,2,3,...)

   Why does passing a subroutine an undefined element in a hash create it?
       (contributed by brian d foy)

       Are you using a really old version of Perl?

       Normally, accessing a hash key's value for a nonexistent key will not
       create the key.

               my %hash  = ();
               my $value = $hash{ 'foo' };
               print "This won't print\n" if exists $hash{ 'foo' };

       Passing $hash{ 'foo' } to a subroutine used to be a special case,
       though.  Since you could assign directly to $_[0], Perl had to be ready
       to make that assignment so it created the hash key ahead of time:

           my_sub( $hash{ 'foo' } );
               print "This will print before 5.004\n" if exists $hash{ 'foo' };
               sub my_sub {
                       $_[0] = 'bar';

       However, if you want the old behavior (and think carefully about that
       because it's a weird side effect), you can pass a hash slice instead.
       Perl 5.004 didn't make this a special case:

               my_sub( @hash{ qw/foo/ } );

   How can I make the Perl equivalent of a C structure/C++ class/hash or array
       of hashes or arrays?
       Usually a hash ref, perhaps like this:

               $record = {
                       NAME   => "Jason",
                       EMPNO  => 132,
                       TITLE  => "deputy peon",
                       AGE    => 23,
                       SALARY => 37_000,
                       PALS   => [ "Norbert", "Rhys", "Phineas"],

       References are documented in perlref and perlreftut.  Examples of
       complex data structures are given in perldsc and perllol.  Examples of
       structures and object-oriented classes are in perltoot.

   How can I use a reference as a hash key?
       (contributed by brian d foy and Ben Morrow)

       Hash keys are strings, so you can't really use a reference as the key.
       When you try to do that, perl turns the reference into its stringified
       form (for instance, "HASH(0xDEADBEEF)"). From there you can't get back
       the reference from the stringified form, at least without doing some
       extra work on your own.

       Remember that the entry in the hash will still be there even if the
       referenced variable  goes out of scope, and that it is entirely
       possible for Perl to subsequently allocate a different variable at the
       same address. This will mean a new variable might accidentally be
       associated with the value for an old.

       If you have Perl 5.10 or later, and you just want to store a value
       against the reference for lookup later, you can use the core
       Hash::Util::Fieldhash module. This will also handle renaming the keys
       if you use multiple threads (which causes all variables to be
       reallocated at new addresses, changing their stringification), and
       garbage-collecting the entries when the referenced variable goes out of

       If you actually need to be able to get a real reference back from each
       hash entry, you can use the Tie::RefHash module, which does the
       required work for you.

       to "exists" you've created the structure you needed to check for

               %hash = (
                                 'key1' => {
                                                         'key2' => {}

       That's autovivification. You can get around this in a few ways. The
       easiest way is to just turn it off. The lexical "autovivification"
       pragma is available on CPAN. Now you don't add to the hash:

               no autovivification;
               my %hash;
               if( exists $hash{key1}{key2}{key3} ) {

       The "Data::Diver" module on CPAN can do it for you too. Its "Dive"
       subroutine can tell you not only if the keys exist but also get the

               use Data::Diver qw(Dive);

           my @exists = Dive( \%hash, qw(key1 key2 key3) );
           if(  ! @exists  ) {
               ...; # keys do not exist
           elsif(  ! defined $exists[0]  ) {
               ...; # keys exist but value is undef

       You can easily do this yourself too by checking each level of the hash
       before you move onto the next level. This is essentially what
       "Data::Diver" does for you:

               if( check_hash( \%hash, qw(key1 key2 key3) ) ) {

               sub check_hash {
                  my( $hash, @keys ) = @_;

                  return unless @keys;

                  foreach my $key ( @keys ) {
                          return unless eval { exists $hash->{$key} };
                          $hash = $hash->{$key};

                  return 1;

       you want to deal with multibyte characters, however, there are some
       gotchas.  See the section on Regular Expressions.

   How do I determine whether a scalar is a number/whole/integer/float?
       Assuming that you don't care about IEEE notations like "NaN" or
       "Infinity", you probably just want to use a regular expression:

               use 5.010;

               given( $number ) {
                       when( /\D/ )
                               { say "\thas nondigits"; continue }
                       when( /^\d+\z/ )
                               { say "\tis a whole number"; continue }
                       when( /^-?\d+\z/ )
                               { say "\tis an integer"; continue }
                       when( /^[+-]?\d+\z/ )
                               { say "\tis a +/- integer"; continue }
                       when( /^-?(?:\d+\.?|\.\d)\d*\z/ )
                               { say "\tis a real number"; continue }
                       when( /^[+-]?(?=\.?\d)\d*\.?\d*(?:e[+-]?\d+)?\z/i)
                               { say "\tis a C float" }

       There are also some commonly used modules for the task.  Scalar::Util
       (distributed with 5.8) provides access to perl's internal function
       "looks_like_number" for determining whether a variable looks like a
       number. Data::Types exports functions that validate data types using
       both the above and other regular expressions. Thirdly, there is
       "Regexp::Common" which has regular expressions to match various types
       of numbers. Those three modules are available from the CPAN.

       If you're on a POSIX system, Perl supports the "POSIX::strtod" function
       for converting strings to doubles (and also "POSIX::strtol" for longs).
       Its semantics are somewhat cumbersome, so here's a "getnum" wrapper
       function for more convenient access. This function takes a string and
       returns the number it found, or "undef" for input that isn't a C float.
       The "is_numeric" function is a front end to "getnum" if you just want
       to say, "Is this a float?"

               sub getnum {
                       use POSIX qw(strtod);
                       my $str = shift;
                       $str =~ s/^\s+//;
                       $str =~ s/\s+$//;
                       $! = 0;
                       my($num, $unparsed) = strtod($str);
                       if (($str eq '') || ($unparsed != 0) || $!) {
                                       return undef;
                       else {
                               return $num;

               use Storable;
               store(\%hash, "filename");

               # later on...
               $href = retrieve("filename");        # by ref
               %hash = %{ retrieve("filename") };   # direct to hash

   How do I print out or copy a recursive data structure?
       The "Data::Dumper" module on CPAN (or the 5.005 release of Perl) is
       great for printing out data structures.  The "Storable" module on CPAN
       (or the 5.8 release of Perl), provides a function called "dclone" that
       recursively copies its argument.

               use Storable qw(dclone);
               $r2 = dclone($r1);

       Where $r1 can be a reference to any kind of data structure you'd like.
       It will be deeply copied.  Because "dclone" takes and returns
       references, you'd have to add extra punctuation if you had a hash of
       arrays that you wanted to copy.

               %newhash = %{ dclone(\%oldhash) };

   How do I define methods for every class/object?
       (contributed by Ben Morrow)

       You can use the "UNIVERSAL" class (see UNIVERSAL). However, please be
       very careful to consider the consequences of doing this: adding methods
       to every object is very likely to have unintended consequences. If
       possible, it would be better to have all your object inherit from some
       common base class, or to use an object system like Moose that supports

   How do I verify a credit card checksum?
       Get the "Business::CreditCard" module from CPAN.

   How do I pack arrays of doubles or floats for XS code?
       The arrays.h/arrays.c code in the "PGPLOT" module on CPAN does just
       this.  If you're doing a lot of float or double processing, consider
       using the "PDL" module from CPAN instead--it makes number-crunching

       See <> for the code.

       Copyright (c) 1997-2010 Tom Christiansen, Nathan Torkington, and other
       authors as noted. All rights reserved.

       This documentation is free; you can redistribute it and/or modify it
       under the same terms as Perl itself.

       Irrespective of its distribution, all code examples in this file are
       hereby placed into the public domain.  You are permitted and encouraged
       to use this code in your own programs for fun or for profit as you see
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