Wow, they are used for so many things, to get a binary representation of a number, to parse binary data out of a file format, to parse network packets... the list is pretty much endless.
Could I suggest you buy the Perl Cookbook and check them out in the index... or search for them on this site, to see a range of their uses in converting between data formats.
print "Good ",qw(night morning afternoon evening)[(localtime)/6]," fellow monks."
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