FAQ 4.61 What's the difference between "delete" and "undef" with hashes?



This is an excerpt from the latest version perlfaq4.pod, which
comes with the standard Perl distribution. These postings aim to
reduce the number of repeated questions as well as allow the community
to review and update the answers. The latest version of the complete
perlfaq is at http://faq.perl.org .

--------------------------------------------------------------------

4.61: 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 $hash{'a'} is true (Perl5 only)
grep ($_ eq 'a', keys %hash) is true

If you now say

undef $hash{'a'}

your table now reads:

keys values
+------+------+
| a | undef|
| 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 $hash{'a'} is true (Perl5 only)
grep ($_ 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 $hash{'a'} is FALSE (Perl5 only)
grep ($_ eq 'a', keys %hash) is FALSE

See, the whole entry is gone!



--------------------------------------------------------------------

The perlfaq-workers, a group of volunteers, maintain the perlfaq. They
are not necessarily experts in every domain where Perl might show up,
so please include as much information as possible and relevant in any
corrections. The perlfaq-workers also don't have access to every
operating system or platform, so please include relevant details for
corrections to examples that do not work on particular platforms.
Working code is greatly appreciated.

If you'd like to help maintain the perlfaq, see the details in
perlfaq.pod.

--
Posted via a free Usenet account from http://www.teranews.com

.