Ruby User's Guide


You can create an array by listing some items within square brackets ([]) and separating them with commas. Ruby's arrays can accomodate diverse object types.

ruby> ary = [1, 2, "3"]
   [1, 2, "3"]

Arrays can be concatenated or repeated just as strings can.

ruby> ary + ["foo", "bar"]
   [1, 2, "3", "foo", "bar"]
ruby> ary * 2
   [1, 2, "3", 1, 2, "3"]

We can use index numbers to refer to any part of a array.

ruby> ary[0]
ruby> ary[0,2]
   [1, 2]
ruby> ary[0..1]
   [1, 2]
ruby> ary[-2]
ruby> ary[-2,2]
   [2, "3"]
ruby> ary[-2..-1]
   [2, "3"]

(Negative indices mean offsets from the end of an array, rather than the beginning.)

Arrays can be converted to and from strings, using join and split respecitvely:

ruby> str = ary.join(":")
ruby> str.split(":")
   ["1", "2", "3"]


An associative array has elements that are accessed not by sequential index numbers, but by keys which can have any sort of value. Such an array is sometimes called a hash or dictionary; in the ruby world, we prefer the term hash. A hash can be constructed by quoting pairs of items within curly braces ({}). You use a key to find something in a hash, much as you use an index to find something in an array.

ruby> h = {1 => 2, "2" => "4"}
   {1=>2, "2"=>"4"}
ruby> h[1]
ruby> h["2"]
ruby> h[5]
ruby> h[5] = 10    # appending an entry
ruby> h
   {5=>10, 1=>2, "2"=>"4"}
ruby> h.delete 1   # deleting an entry by key
ruby> h[1]
ruby> h
   {5=>10, "2"=>"4"}

Copyright (c) 2005-2008 Mark Slagell

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts.

A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License."