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Re: difference between delete and undef

by manoj_speed (Priest)
on Mar 18, 2009 at 04:11 UTC ( #751349=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to difference between delete and undef

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
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 $hash{'a'} is true (Perl 5 only)
grep ($_ 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!


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