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9.5: Collection Iterators

  • Page ID
    36382
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    In Smalltalk loops and conditionals are simply messages sent to collections or other objects such as integers or blocks (see also Chapter 3). In addition to low-level messages such as to:do: which evaluates a block with an argument ranging from an initial to a final number, the Smalltalk collection hierarchy offers various high-level iterators. Using such iterators will make your code more robust and compact.

    Iterating (do:)

    The method do: is the basic collection iterator. It applies its argument (a block taking a single argument) to each element of the receiver. The following example prints all the strings contained in the receiver to the transcript.

    #('bob' 'joe' 'toto') do: [:each | Transcript show: each; cr].
    

    Variants. There are a lot of variants of do:, such as do:without:, doWithIndex: and reverseDo:: For the indexed collections (Array, OrderedCollection, SortedCollection) the method doWithIndex: also gives access to the current index. This method is related to to:do: which is defined in class Number.

    #('bob' 'joe' 'toto') doWithIndex: [:each :i | (each = 'joe') ifTrue: [ ↑ i ] ]    →    2
    

    For ordered collections, reverseDo: walks the collection in the reverse order.

    The following code shows an interesting message: do:separatedBy: which executes the second block only in between two elements.

    res := ''.
    #('bob' 'joe' 'toto') do: [:e | res := res, e ] separatedBy: [res := res, '.'].
    res    →    'bob.joe.toto' 
    

    Note that this code is not especially efficient since it creates intermediate strings and it would be better to use a write stream to buffer the result (see Chapter 10):

    String streamContents: [:stream | #('bob' 'joe' 'toto') asStringOn: stream delimiter: '.' ]    →    'bob.joe.toto' 
    

    Dictionaries. When the message do: is sent to a dictionary, the elements taken into account are the values, not the associations. The proper methods to use are keysDo:, valuesDo:, and associationsDo:, which iterate respectively on keys, values or associations.

    colors := Dictionary newFrom: { #yellow --> Color yellow. #blue --> Color blue.
        #red --> Color red }.
    colors keysDo: [:key | Transcript show: key; cr].                    "displays the keys"
    colors valuesDo: [:value | Transcript show: value;cr].               "displays the values"
    colors associationsDo: [:value | Transcript show: value;cr].         "displays the associations"
    

    Collecting results (collect:)

    If you want to process the elements of a collection and produce a new collection as a result, rather than using do:, you are probably better off using collect:, or one of the other iterator methods. Most of these can be found in the enumerating protocol of Collection and its subclasses.

    Imagine that we want a collection containing the doubles of the elements in another collection. Using the method do: we must write the following:

    double := OrderedCollection new.
    #(1 2 3 4 5 6) do: [:e | double add: 2 * e].
    double    →    an OrderedCollection(2 4 6 8 10 12)
    

    The method collect: executes its argument block for each element and returns a new collection containing the results. Using collect: instead, the code is much simpler:

    #(1 2 3 4 5 6) collect: [:e | 2*e]    →    #(2 4 6 8 10 12)
    

    The advantages of collect: over do: are even more dramatic in the following example, where we take a collection of integers and generate as a result a collection of absolute values of these integers:

    aCol:= #(2 -3 4 -35 4 -11).
    result := aCol species new: aCol size.
    1 to: aCol size do: [ :each | result at: each put: (aCol at: each) abs].
    result    →    #(2 3 4 35 4 11)
    

    Contrast the above with the much simpler following expression:

    #(2 -3 4 -35 4 -11) collect: [:each|eachabs]    →    #(2 3 4 35 4 11)
    

    A further advantage of the second solution is that it will also work for sets and bags.

    Generally you should avoid using do:, unless you want to send messages to each of the elements of a collection.

    Note that sending the message collect: returns the same kind of collection as the receiver. For this reason the following code fails. (A String cannot hold integer values.)

    'abc' collect: [:ea | ea asciiValue ]    "error!"
    

    Instead we must first convert the string to an Array or an OrderedCollection:

    'abc' asArray collect: [:ea | ea asciiValue ]    →    #(97 98 99)
    

    Actually collect: is not guaranteed to return a collection of exactly the same class as the receiver, but only the same “species”. In the case of an Interval, the species is actually an Array!

    (1to:5)collect:[:ea|ea*2]    →    #(2 4 6 8 10)
    

    Selecting and rejecting elements

    select: returns the elements of the receiver that satisfy a particular condition:

    (2 to: 20) select: [:each | each isPrime]    →    #(2 3 5 7 11 13 17 19) 
    

    reject: does the opposite:

    (2 to: 20) reject: [:each|eachisPrime]    →    #(4 6 8 9 10 12 14 15 16 18 20)
    

    Identifying an element with detect:

    The method detect: returns the first element of the receiver that matches block argument.

    'through' detect: [:each | each isVowel]    →    $o
    

    The method detect:ifNone: is a variant of the method detect:. Its second block is evaluated when there is no element matching the block.

    Smalltalk allClasses detect: [:each | '*java*' match: each asString] ifNone: [ nil ]
        →    nil 
    

    Accumulating results with inject:into:

    Functional programming languages often provide a higher-order function called fold or reduce to accumulate a result by applying some binary operator iteratively over all elements of a collection. In Squeak this is done by Collection»inject:into:.

    The first argument is an initial value, and the second argument is a two-argument block which is applied to the result this far, and each element in turn.

    A trivial application of inject:into: is to produce the sum of a collection of numbers. Following Gauss, in Squeak we could write this expression to sum the first 100 integers:

    (1 to: 100) inject: 0 into: [:sum :each | sum + each ]    →    5050 
    

    Another example is the following one-argument block which computes factorials:

    factorial := [:n | (1 to: n) inject: 1 into: [:product :each | product * each ] ].
    factorial value: 10    →    3628800 
    

    Other messages

    count: The message count: returns the number of elements satisfying a condition. The condition is represented as a boolean block.

    Smalltalk allClasses count: [:each | 'Collection*' match: each asString ]    →    2
    

    includes: The message includes: checks whether the argument is contained in the collection.

    colors := {Color white . Color yellow. Color red . Color blue . Color orange}.
    colors includes: Color blue.    →    true 
    

    anySatisfy: The message anySatisfy: answers true if at least one element of the collection satisfies the condition represented by the argument.

    colors anySatisfy: [:c | c red > 0.5]    →    true
    

    This page titled 9.5: Collection Iterators is shared under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Andrew P. Black, Stéphane Ducasse, Oscar Nierstrasz, Damien Pollet via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.