A Quick, Painless Introduction to the Perl Scripting Language

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Languages like C and C++ allow a programmer to write code at a very detailed level which has good execution speed. But in many applications one would prefer to write at a higher level. For example, for textmanipulation applications, the basic unit in C/C++ is a character, while for languages like Perl and Python the basic units are lines of text and words within lines. One can work with lines and words in C/C++, but one must go to greater effort to accomplish the same thing. C/C++ might give better speed, but if speed is not an issue, the convenience of a scripting language is very attractive.

The term scripting language has never been formally defined, but here are the typical characteristics: • Used often for system administration and “rapid prototyping.” • Very casual with regard to typing of variables, e.g. no distinction between integer, floating-point or string variables. Functions can return nonscalars, e.g. arrays, nonscalars can be used as loop indexes, etc. • Lots of high-level operations intrinsic to the language, e.g. stack push/pop. • Interpreted, rather than being compiled to the instruction set of the host machine. Today many people, including me, strongly prefer Python, as it is much cleaner and more elegant. Our introduction here assumes knowledge of C/C++ programming. There will be a couple of places in which we describe things briefly in a Unix context, so some Unix knowledge would be helpful Download free A Quick, Painless Introduction to the Perl Scripting Language here

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