Thanks for the reply.
Ok, so could I use local for $1 and $2 in the same way that I use my for $_? This isn't working how I expected it to.
I'm not sure if this is relevant, but the one that I'm having trouble with is the multiplication, where I use both the originals and the recursive call results:
return "($1)*(".diff($2).")+($2)*(".diff($1).") if m/(.+?)\*(.+)/;
This works fine using $capt1 = $1, but I'm curious as to whether it can be done using local or with the double quotes...
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