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Confusing syntax error with grep

by gumpu (Friar)
on Aug 12, 2004 at 13:57 UTC ( #382243=perlquestion: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

gumpu has asked for the wisdom of the Perl Monks concerning the following question:

Hello fellow monks,

I am working on a little module to scan a whole tree of sourcefiles for use with Vim. One of the methods is:

sub parseDir { my $self = shift; my $path = shift; # the path to the directroy we are # currently scanning. my $out = shift; # the file we write the results to my $target = shift; # the thing we are searching for my $dir = IO::Dir->new($path) or die "can't open $path : $!"; my @files = $dir->read(); $dir->close(); # Scan all interesting files grep( ( -f "$path/$_" ) and ( $_ =~ m/\.(java|xml|cpp|c|h|inc|pas)$/i ) and ( $self->Scan_File( "$path/$_", $out, $target ) ) , @file +s ); # Also scan any subdirectories. grep( ( ( -d "$path/$_" ) and ( $_ !~ /^\.+$/ ) and # but avoid . and .. ( $self->parseDir( "$path/$_", $out, $target ) ) ), @files + ); }

The odd thing is that the second grep works fine while the first grep results in a: 'Not enough arguments for grep at scan.pl line 63, near "@files )"'. The only difference between the two is that the first has a '(' ')' pair less. I am quite puzzled why this makes a difference, since both

( expression ) and ( expression ) and ( expression)

and

( ( expression ) and ( expression ) and ( expression) )

seem to me to be syntactically correct expression.

Can anybody shed some light on this?

Have Fun

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Confusing syntax error with grep
by etcshadow (Priest) on Aug 12, 2004 at 14:15 UTC
    Don't try to futz with
    grep (expr), @list;
    or
    grep ((expr), @list);
    or any such... you just confuse the hell out of the parser and out of someone trying to read it. Instead use this syntax for grep:
    grep { block } @list;
    Those are curly braces setting off a block, not parenthesese setting off an expression. So your code would become:
    grep { ( -f "$path/$_" ) and ( $_ =~ m/\.(java|xml|cpp|c|h|inc|pas)$/i ) and ( $self->Scan_File( "$path/$_", $out, $target ) } @files ); # Also scan any subdirectories. grep { ( ( -d "$path/$_" ) and ( $_ !~ /^\.+$/ ) and # but avoid . and .. ( $self->parseDir( "$path/$_", $out, $target ) ) } @files;
    However, it also doesn't make sense because you are using grep in a void context. grep is meant to filter a list (reduce some of the contents out of list1 into list2). If you just want to apply a block of code against every item in a list, think of using map or foreach. Most folks here will complain, likewise, if you use map in a void context (for the same reason, sort of, that I complain about you using grep... the purpose of map (in perl) is to *mutate* a list... although in some other language paradigms one might think of map as making sense in a void context... but that's another argument).
    ------------ :Wq Not an editor command: Wq
      However, it also doesn't make sense because you are using grep in a void context.

      Not necessarily. The first grep is in void context, but the last one may or may not be -- it depends on how the subroutine is called. My guess is he took some working code and added a second grep at the end, without really realising how it worked.

      Update: It's pointless to guess how it happened. Kindly ignore that sentence. :-)

      "However, it also doesn't make sense because you are using grep in a void context. grep is meant to filter a list (reduce some of the contents out of list1 into list2). If you just want to apply a block of code against every item in a list, think of using map or foreach. Most folks here will complain, likewise, if you use map in a void context"

      Guess I agree on using map instead of grep. But I find foreach ugly.

      foreach ( @alist ) { if ( condition( $_ ) ) { do_something( $_ ); } }

      Is far less pretty to the eye than:

      map { condition( $_ ) and do_something( $_ ) } @alist;

      OK, map ( or grep ) has to create a list which is not used. I used to worry about that too. However, given the size of an list in an average problem and the amount of memory that is nowadays present in a computer it is no longer relevant to worry about it. For instance in my case the list holds the names of all files in a single directory. That will be 1 to 1000 elements or so. Compared to the 256 Mbyte that is available in my computer this is peanuts. So I stopped worrying about it and instead worry about making it readable.

      Of course it would be even nicer if there was a construct in perl like:

      { do_something( $_) } forall ( @alist ) where { condition( $_ ) }

      Have Fun

        Of course it would be even nicer if there was a construct in perl like:    { do_something( $_) } forall ( @alist ) where { condition( $_ ) }
        You mean like: do_something( $_ ) for grep condition( $_ ), @alist; ?

        Update: condition( $_ ) and do_something( $_ ) for @alist; is going to be faster because it doesn't have to loop twice.

        Come to think of it:

        foreach ( @alist ) { if ( condition( $_ ) ) { do_something( $_ ); } }

        can be written as

        foreach ( @alist ) { condition( $_ ) and do_something( $_ ) }

        Which is as pretty as the map version. The point about worrying too much about memory still stands though.

        Have Fun

Re: Confusing syntax error with grep
by rsteinke (Scribe) on Aug 12, 2004 at 14:06 UTC

    I believe 'and' actually has a lower operator precedence than the comma operator, so your first expression is parsing as

    ( expression ) and ( expression ) and ( expression, @files )
    Try replacing 'and' with '&&' and see if that helps.

    Ron Steinke
    <rsteinke@w-link.net>

      No, that would only be the case if the (last set of) parens weren't there.

        Nope he is correct, it was a problem with 'and' having lower precedence than ','

        grep ( ( expression) and ( expression) and ( expression ) , @files )

        Is interpreted as

        grep ( ( expression) and ( expression) and ( ( expression ) , @files ) + )

        According to perldoc -f grep, the construct grep( expression, list ) is allowed. But it is indeed confusing to man and machine!.

        Have Fun

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