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sort an array with +ve & -ve numbers in it

by Anonymous Monk
on Apr 03, 2009 at 09:04 UTC ( #755206=perlquestion: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??
Anonymous Monk has asked for the wisdom of the Perl Monks concerning the following question:

Dear Monks, I need to sort an array which is having positive & negative should take these into account & give max number & min number. for example ,if my array has @array = (99, 67, 0, -100, -38, 98) then it should sort and give me -100 is min value & 99 is max value. currently i am using "sort" which is not working on the negative numbers.Please help! Thanks in advance.
  • Comment on sort an array with +ve & -ve numbers in it

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Re: sort an array with +ve & -ve numbers in it
by ikegami (Pope) on Apr 03, 2009 at 09:10 UTC
    The default sort criteria sorts lexically (alphabetically). You need to specify your own sort criteria.
    my @sorted = sort { $a <=> $b } @numbers; my $min = $sorted[0]; my $max = $sorted[-1];

      An exposition of ikegami's reply (beginners in mind):

      • my @sorted = sort { $a <=> $b } @numbers;
        Calls sort on @numbers, storing returned list in @sorted. Passes sort a code block to use as a comparison function (used to determine whether to swap two elements). $a and $b can be used within the code block to reference the elements being compared. To reverse the sort order, reverse $a and $b in the code block:
        sort { $b <=> $a } @numbers
      • my $min = $sorted[0];
        sort { $a <=> $b } will sort the numbers in ascending order, so the first element of the resultant array is the minimum.
      • my $max = $sorted[-1];
        An index of -1 refers to the last element, which is of course the maximum.

      undef $lunches{free}
Re: sort an array with +ve & -ve numbers in it
by jwkrahn (Monsignor) on Apr 03, 2009 at 10:51 UTC

    You don't need to sort the array to get the minimum and maximum values, a simple loop will do:

    $ perl -le' my @array = ( 99, 67, 0, -100, -38, 98 ); my ( $min, $max ) = @array; for my $element ( @array ) { $min = $element if $min > $element; $max = $element if $max < $element; } print "Min = $min and Max = $max"; ' Min = -100 and Max = 99

      Ummm...isn't a sort a bit easier and simpler?

      my @array = ( 99, 67, 0, -100, -38, 98); my ($min, $max) = (sort @array)[0,-1];

      Eric Hodges
        Easier and simpler, but less efficient (O n log n, perhaps) than jwkrahn's approach (O n). Of course this won't matter for small data sets.

        As already stated by ikegami, you really need to use the numerical sort: sort {$a <=> $b} @array

        Try changing your data set to my @array = ( -10, 99, 67, 0, -100, -38, 98) and using that sort routine. This is probably the problem the OP is having. You're going to get -10 as the minimum.

Re: sort an array with +ve & -ve numbers in it
by nagalenoj (Friar) on Apr 03, 2009 at 09:20 UTC
    Hope, this will help you to know how sort works. Sort
Re: sort an array with +ve & -ve numbers in it
by vinoth.ree (Monsignor) on Apr 03, 2009 at 10:01 UTC

    You can also get the minimum value by using the


    This will hold the last element's index in the array

Re: sort an array with +ve & -ve numbers in it
by JavaFan (Canon) on Apr 03, 2009 at 09:24 UTC
    i am using "sort" which is not working on the negative numbers.
    Well, I'm a bit baffled by this. I guess what you are doing wrong - you're probably sorting alphabetically. But that doesn't work with positive numbers either.

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