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2. Tutorial

Majority of the contents of this tutorial section were written by Nik Silver, at the School of Computer Studies, University of Leeds, UK. Assuming working knowledge of any programming language, we will now try to see what Perl programs look like.

2.1 First Step

Ever since Kernighan and Ritchie came out with C programming language, people have started learning almost any programming language with the obligatory "Hello World" program. Let us do the same!

Hello World!

Here is the basic perl program that we'll use to get started.

#! /usr/local/bin/perl
# prints a greeting.
print 'Hello world.';           # Print a message


A common Perl-pitfall is to write cryptic code. In that context, Perl do provide for comments, albeit not very flexible. Perl treats any thing from a hash # to the end of line as a comment. Block comments are not possible. So, if you want to have a block of comments, you must ensure that each line starts with #.


Everything other than comments are Perl statements, which must end with a semicolon, like the last line above. Unlike C, you need not put a wrapping character \ for long statements. A Perl statement always ends with a semicolon.

2.2 Running Perl

Type in the example program using a text editor, and save it. The first line of the program is a typical shell construct, which will make the shell start the interpreter and feed the remaining lines of the file as an input to the interpreter.

After you've entered and saved the program make sure the file is executable by using the command

chmod u+x progname
at the UNIX prompt, where progname is the filename of the program. Now, to run the program, just type any of the following at the prompt.
perl progname
If something goes wrong then you may get error messages, or you may get nothing. You can always run the program with warnings using the command
perl -w progname
at the prompt. This will display warnings and other (hopefully) helpful messages before it tries to execute the program. To run the program with a debugger use the command
perl -d progname
When the file is executed Perl first compiles it and then executes that compiled version. Unlike many other interpreted languages, Perl scripts are compiled first, helping you to catch most of errors before program actually starts executing. In this context, the -w switch is very helpful. It will warn you about unused variables, suspicious statements etc.

2.3 Scalars

Perl supports 3 basic types of variables, viz., scalars, lists and hashes. We will explore each of these little more.

The most basic kind of variable in Perl is the scalar variable. Scalar variables hold both strings and numbers, and are remarkable in that strings and numbers are completely interchangeable. For example, the statement

$age = 27;
sets the scalar variable $age to 27, but you can also assign a string to exactly the same variable:
$age = 'Twenty Seven';
Perl also accepts numbers as strings, like this:
$priority = '9';
$default = '0009';
and can still cope with arithmetic and other operations quite happily. However, please note that the following code is a bit too much to ask for!
$age = 'Twenty Seven';
$age = $age + 10;
For the curious, the above code will set $age to 10. Think why.

In general variable names consists of numbers, letters and underscores, but they should not start with a number and the variable $_ is special, as we'll see later. Also, Perl is case sensitive, so $a and $A are different.

Operations and Assignment

Perl uses all the usual C arithmetic operators:

$a = 1 + 2;     # Add 1 and 2 and store in $a
$a = 3 - 4;     # Subtract 4 from 3 and store in $a
$a = 5 * 6;     # Multiply 5 and 6
$a = 7 / 8;     # Divide 7 by 8 to give 0.875
$a = 9 ** 10;   # Nine to the power of 10
$a = 5 % 2;     # Remainder of 5 divided by 2
++$a;           # Increment $a and then return it
$a++;           # Return $a and then increment it
--$a;           # Decrement $a and then return it
$a--;           # Return $a and then decrement it
and for strings Perl has the following among others:
$a = $b . $c;   # Concatenate $b and $c
$a = $b x $c;   # $b repeated $c times
To assign values Perl includes
$a = $b;        # Assign $b to $a
$a += $b;       # Add $b to $a
$a -= $b;       # Subtract $b from $a
$a .= $b;       # Append $b onto $a
Note that when Perl assigns a value with $a = $b it makes a copy of $b and then assigns that to $a. Therefore the next time you change $b it will not alter $a.

Other operators can be found on the perlop manual page. Type man perlop at the prompt.


The following code prints apples and pears using concatenation:

$a = 'apples';
$b = 'pears';
print $a.' and '.$b;
It would be nicer to include only one string in the final print statement, but the line
print '$a and $b';
prints literally $a and $b which isn't very helpful. Instead we can use the double quotes in place of the single quotes:
print "$a and $b";
The double quotes force interpolation of any codes, including interpreting variables. This is a much nicer than our original statement. Other codes that are interpolated include special characters such as newline and tab. The code \n is a newline and \t is a tab.


This exercise is to rewrite the Hello world program so that (a) the string is assigned to a variable and (b) this variable is then printed with a newline character. Use the double quotes and don't use the concatenation operator.

2.4 Lists (Arrays)

A slightly more interesting kind of variable is the list variable which is an array of scalars (i.e. numbers and strings). From now on, we will use the terms list and array interchangeably.

Array variables have the same format as scalar variables except that they are prefixed by an @ symbol. The statement

@food  = ("apples", "pears", "eels");
@music = ("whistle", "flute");
assigns a three element list to the array variable @food and a two element list to the array variable @music.

The array is accessed by using indices starting from 0, and square brackets are used to specify the index. The expression

returns eels. Notice that the @ has changed to a $ because eels is a scalar.

Array assignments

As in all of Perl, the same expression in a different context can produce a different result. The first assignment below explodes the @music variable so that it is equivalent to the second assignment.

@moremusic = ("organ", @music, "harp");
@moremusic = ("organ", "whistle", "flute", "harp");
This should suggest a way of adding elements to an array. A neater way of adding elements is to use the statement
push(@food, "eggs");
which pushes eggs onto the end of the array @food. To push two or more items onto the array use one of the following forms:
push(@food, "eggs", "lard");
push(@food, ("eggs", "lard"));
push(@food, @morefood);
The push function returns the length of the new list. So does $#food !

To remove the last item from a list and return it use the pop function. From our original list the pop function returns eels and @food now has two elements:

$grub = pop(@food);     # Now $grub = "eels"

It is also possible to assign an array to a scalar variable. As usual context is important. The line

$f = @food;
assigns the length of @food, but
$f = "@food";
turns the list into a string with a space between each element. This space can be replaced by any other string by changing the value of the special $" variable. This variable is just one of Perl's many special variables, most of which have odd names.

When you get overloaded with oddity, use the English module which lets you name these variables in more user-friendly (i.e. to English-speaking people) way.

Arrays can also be used to make multiple assignments to scalar variables:

($a, $b) = ($c, $d);            # Same as $a=$c; $b=$d;
($a, $b) = @food;               # $a and $b are the first two
                                # items of @food.
($a, @somefood) = @food;        # $a is the first item of @food
                                # @somefood is a list of the
                                # others.
(@somefood, $a) = @food;        # @somefood is @food and
                                # $a is undefined.
The last assignment occurs because arrays are greedy, and @somefood will swallow up as much of @food as it can. Therefore that form is best avoided.

Finally, you may want to find the index of the last element of a list. To do this for the @food array use the expression


Displaying arrays

Since context is important, it shouldn't be too surprising that the following all produce different results:

print @food;    # By itself
print "@food";        # Embedded in double quotes
print @food."";       # In a scalar context

2.5 Hashes (Associative Arrays)

Ordinary list arrays allow us to access their element by number. The first element of array @food is $food[0]. The second element is $food[1], and so on. But Perl also allows us to create arrays which are accessed by string. These are called associative arrays or hashes.

To define an associative array we use the usual parenthesis notation, but the array itself is prefixed by a % sign. Suppose we want to create an array of people and their ages. It would look like this:

%ages = ("Michael Caine", 39,
         "Dirty Den", 34,
         "Angie", 27,
         "Willy", "21 in dog years",
         "The Queen Mother", 108);
Now we can find the age of people with the following expressions
$ages{"Michael Caine"};               # Returns 39
$ages{"Dirty Den"};           # Returns 34
$ages{"Angie"};                       # Returns 27
$ages{"Willy"};                       # Returns "21 in dog years"
$ages{"The Queen Mother"};    # Returns 108
Notice that like list arrays each % sign has changed to a $ to access an individual element because that element is a scalar. Unlike list arrays the index (in this case the person's name) is enclosed in curly braces, the idea being that associative arrays are fancier than list arrays.

An associative array can be converted back into a list array just by assigning it to a list array variable. A list array can be converted into an associative array by assigning it to an associative array variable. Ideally the list array will have an even number of elements:

@info = %ages;          # @info is a list array. It
                        # now has 10 elements
$info[5];               # Returns the value 27 from
                        # the list array @info
%moreages = @info;      # %moreages is an associative
                        # array. It is the same as %ages


Associative arrays do not have any order to their elements (they are just like hash tables) but is it possible to access all the elements in turn using the keys function and the values function:

foreach $person (keys %ages)
        print "I know the age of $person\n";
foreach $age (values %ages)
        print "Somebody is $age\n";
When keys is called it returns a list of the keys (indices) of the associative array. When values is called it returns a list of the values of the array. These functions return their lists in the same order, but this order has nothing to do with the order in which the elements have been entered.

When keys and values are called in a scalar context they return the number of key/value pairs in the associative array.

There is also a function each which returns a two element list of a key and its value. Every time each is called it returns another key/value pair:

while (($person, $age) = each(%ages))
        print "$person is $age\n";

Environment variables

When you run a perl program, or any script in UNIX, there will be certain environment variables set. These will be things like USER which contains your username and DISPLAY which specifies which screen your graphics will go to. When you run a perl CGI script on the World Wide Web there are environment variables which hold other useful information. All these variables and their values are stored in the associative %ENV array in which the keys are the variable names. Try the following in a perl program:

print "You are called $ENV{'USER'} and you are ";
print "using display $ENV{'DISPLAY'}\n";

2.6 Control Structures

More interesting possibilities arise when we introduce control structures and looping. Perl supports lots of different kinds of control structures which tend to be like those in C, but are very similar to Pascal, too. Here we discuss a few of them.


To go through each line of an array or other list-like structure (such as lines in a file) Perl uses the foreach structure. This has the form

foreach $morsel (@food)         # Visit each item in turn
                                # and call it $morsel
        print "$morsel\n";    # Print the item
        print "Yum yum\n";    # That was nice
The actions to be performed each time are enclosed in a block of curly braces. The first time through the block $morsel is assigned the value of the first item in the array @food. Next time it is assigned the value of the second item, and so until the end. If @food is empty to start with then the block of statements is never executed.


The next few structures rely on a test being true or false. In Perl any non-zero number and non-empty string is counted as true. The number zero, zero by itself in a string, and the empty string are counted as false. Here are some tests on numbers and strings.

$a == $b                # Is $a numerically equal to $b?
                        # Beware: Don't use the = operator.
$a != $b                # Is $a numerically unequal to $b?
$a eq $b                # Is $a string-equal to $b?
$a ne $b                # Is $a string-unequal to $b?

You can also use logical and, or and not:

($a && $b)              # Is $a and $b true?
($a || $b)              # Is either $a or $b true?
!($a)                   # is $a false?


Perl has a for structure that mimics that of C. It has the form

for (initialise; test; inc)

First of all the statement initialise is executed. Then while test is true the block of actions is executed. After each time the block is executed inc takes place. Here is an example for loop to print out the numbers 0 to 9.

for ($i = 0; $i < 10; ++$i)  # Start with $i = 1
                                # Do it while $i < 10
                                # Increment $i before repeating
        print "$i\n";

while and until

Here is a program that reads some input from the keyboard and won't continue until it is the correct password

print "Password? ";           # Ask for input
$a = ;                     # Get input
chop $a;                        # Remove the newline at end
while ($a ne "fred")          # While input is wrong...
    print "sorry. Again? ";   # Ask again
    $a = ;         # Get input again
    chop $a;                    # Chop off newline again
The curly-braced block of code is executed while the input does not equal the password. The while structure should be fairly clear, but this is the opportunity to notice several things. First, we can we read from the standard input (the keyboard) without opening the file first. Second, when the password is entered $a is given that value including the newline character at the end. The chop function removes the last character of a string which in this case is the newline.

To test the opposite thing we can use the until statement in just the same way. This executes the block repeatedly until the expression is true, not while it is true.

Another useful technique is putting the while or until check at the end of the statement block rather than at the beginning. This will require the presence of the do operator to mark the beginning of the block and the test at the end. If we forgo the sorry. Again message in the above password program then it could be written like this.

        print "Password? ";           # Ask for input
        $a = ;             # Get input
        chop $a;                # Chop off newline
while ($a ne "fred")          # Redo while wrong input


Modify the program from the previous exercise so that each line of the file is read in one by one and is output with a line number at the beginning. You should get something like:

1 root:oYpYXm/qRO6N2:0:0:Super-User:/:/bin/csh
2 sysadm:*:0:0:System V Administration:/usr/admin:/bin/sh
3 diag:*:0:996:Hardware Diagnostics:/usr/diags:/bin/csh
You may find it useful to use the structure
while ($line = <INFO>)

When you have done this see if you can alter it so that line numbers are printed as 001, 002, ..., 009, 010, 011, 012, etc. To do this you should only need to change one line by inserting an extra four characters. Perl's clever like that.


Of course Perl also allows if/then/else statements. These are of the following form:

if ($a)
        print "The string is not empty\n";
        print "The string is empty\n";
For this, remember that an empty string is considered to be false. It will also give an "empty" result if $a is the string 0.

It is also possible to include more alternatives in a conditional statement:

if (!$a)                        # The ! is the not operator
        print "The string is empty\n";
elsif (length($a) == 1)         # If above fails, try this
        print "The string has one character\n";
elsif (length($a) == 2)         # If that fails, try this
        print "The string has two characters\n";
else                            # Now, everything has failed
        print "The string has lots of characters\n";
In this, it is important to notice that the elsif statement really does have an "e" missing.

Sometimes, it is more readable to use unless instead of if (!...) . The switch-case statement familiar to C programmers are not available in Perl. You can simulate it in other ways. See the manual pages.


From the previous exercise you should have a program which prints out the password file with line numbers. Change it so that works with the text file. Now alter the program so that line numbers aren't printed or counted with blank lines, but every line is still printed, including the blank ones. Remember that when a line of the file is read in it will still include its newline character at the end.

2.7 File operations

Here is the basic perl program which does the same as the UNIX cat command on a certain file.

# Program to open the password file, read it in,
# print it, and close it again.

$file = '/etc/passwd';          # Name the file
open(INFO, $file);              # Open the file
@lines = <INFO>;          # Read it into an array
close(INFO);                    # Close the file
print @lines;                   # Print the array

The open function opens a file for input (i.e. for reading). The first parameter is the filehandle which allows Perl to refer to the file in future. The second parameter is an expression denoting the filename. If the filename was given in quotes then it is taken literally without shell expansion. So the expression '~/notes/todolist' will not be interpreted successfully. If you want to force shell expansion then use angled brackets: that is, use <~/notes/todolist> instead.

The close function tells Perl to finish with that file.

There are a few useful points to add to this discussion on file-handling. First, the open statement can also specify a file for output and for appending as well as for input. To do this, prefix the filename with a > for output and a >> for appending:

open(INFO, $file);      # Open for input
open(INFO, ">$file");      # Open for output
open(INFO, ">>$file");  # Open for appending
open(INFO, "<$file");      # Also open for input

Second, if you want to print something to a file you've already opened for output then you can use the print statement with an extra parameter. To print a string to the file with the INFO filehandle use

print INFO "This line goes to the file.\n";

Third, you can use the following to open the standard input (usually the keyboard) and standard output (usually the screen) respectively:

open(INFO, '-');        # Open standard input
open(INFO, '>-');    # Open standard output

In the above program the information is read from a file. The file is the INFO file and to read from it Perl uses angled brackets. So the statement

@lines = <INFO>;
reads the file denoted by the filehandle into the array @lines. Note that the <INFO> expression reads in the file entirely in one go. This is because the reading takes place in the context of an array variable. If @lines is replaced by the scalar $lines then only the next one line would be read in. In either case each line is stored complete with its newline character at the end.


Modify the above program so that the entire file is printed with a # symbol at the beginning of each line. You should only have to add one line and modify another. Use the $" variable. Unexpected things can happen with files, so you may find it helpful to use the -w option.

Extending pipes

You can very easily substitute reading a file to reading a pipe. The following example shows reading the ouput of the ps command.

open(PS,"ps -aef|") or die "Cannot open ps \n";
        print ;

2.8 String Processing

One of the most useful features of Perl (if not the most useful feature) is its powerful string manipulation facilities. At the heart of this is the regular expression (RE) which is shared by many other UNIX utilities.

Regular expressions

A regular expression is contained in slashes, and matching occurs with the =~ operator. The following expression is true if the string the appears in variable $sentence.

$sentence =~ /the/
The RE is case sensitive, so if
$sentence = "The quick brown fox";
then the above match will be false. The operator !~ is used for spotting a non-match. In the above example
$sentence !~ /the/
is true because the string the does not appear in $sentence.

The $_ special variable

We could use a conditional as

if ($sentence =~ /under/)
        print "We're talking about rugby\n";
which would print out a message if we had either of the following
$sentence = "Up and under";
$sentence = "Best winkles in Sunderland";
But it's often much easier if we assign the sentence to the special variable $_ which is of course a scalar. If we do this then we can avoid using the match and non-match operators and the above can be written simply as
if (/under/)
        print "We're talking about rugby\n";
The $_ variable is the default for many Perl operations and tends to be used very heavily.

More on REs

In an RE there are plenty of special characters, and it is these that both give them their power and make them appear very complicated. It's best to build up your use of REs slowly; their creation can be something of an art form.

Here are some special RE characters and their meaning

.       # Any single character except a newline
^       # The beginning of the line or string
$       # The end of the line or string
*       # Zero or more of the last character
+       # One or more of the last character
?       # Zero or one of the last character
and here are some example matches. Remember that should be enclosed in /.../ slashes to be used.
t.e     # t followed by anthing followed by e
        # This will match the
        #                 tre
        #                 tle
        # but not te
        #         tale
^f      # f at the beginning of a line
^ftp    # ftp at the beginning of a line
e$      # e at the end of a line
tle$    # tle at the end of a line
und*    # un followed by zero or more d characters
        # This will match un
        #                 und
        #                 undd
        #                 unddd (etc)
.*      # Any string without a newline. This is because
        # the . matches anything except a newline and
        # the * means zero or more of these.
^$      # A line with nothing in it.

There are even more options. Square brackets are used to match any one of the characters inside them. Inside square brackets a - indicates "between" and a ^ at the beginning means "not":

[qjk]           # Either q or j or k
[^qjk]          # Neither q nor j nor k
[a-z]           # Anything from a to z inclusive
[^a-z]          # No lower case letters
[a-zA-Z]        # Any letter
[a-z]+          # Any non-zero sequence of lower case letters
At this point you can probably skip to the end and do at least most of the exercise. The rest is mostly just for reference.

A vertical bar | represents an "or" and parentheses (...) can be used to group things together:

jelly|cream     # Either jelly or cream
(eg|le)gs       # Either eggs or legs
(da)+           # Either da or dada or dadada or...

Here are some more special characters:

\n              # A newline
\t              # A tab
\w              # Any alphanumeric (word) character.
                # The same as [a-zA-Z0-9_]
\W              # Any non-word character.
                # The same as [^a-zA-Z0-9_]
\d              # Any digit. The same as [0-9]
\D              # Any non-digit. The same as [^0-9]
\s              # Any whitespace character: space,
                # tab, newline, etc
\S              # Any non-whitespace character
\b              # A word boundary, outside [] only
\B              # No word boundary

Clearly characters like $, |, [, ), \, / and so on are peculiar cases in regular expressions. If you want to match for one of those then you have to preceed it by a backslash. So:

\|              # Vertical bar
\[              # An open square bracket
\)              # A closing parenthesis
\*              # An asterisk
\^              # A carat symbol
\/              # A slash
\\              # A backslash
and so on.

Some example REs

As was mentioned earlier, it's probably best to build up your use of regular expressions slowly. Here are a few examples. Remember that to use them for matching they should be put in /.../ slashes

[01]            # Either "0" or "1"
\/0             # A division by zero: "/0"
\/ 0            # A division by zero with a space: "/ 0"
\/\s0           # A division by zero with a whitespace:
                # "/ 0" where the space may be a tab etc.
\/ *0           # A division by zero with possibly some
                # spaces: "/0" or "/ 0" or "/  0" etc.
\/\s*0          # A division by zero with possibly some
                # whitespace.
\/\s*0\.0*      # As the previous one, but with decimal
                # point and maybe some 0s after it. Accepts
                # "/0." and "/0.0" and "/0.00" etc and
                # "/ 0." and "/  0.0" and "/   0.00" etc.
# Check for valid currency value
# Check for valid email address


Previously your program counted non-empty lines. Alter it so that instead of counting non-empty lines it counts only lines with

In each case the program should print out every line, but it should only number those specified. Try to use the $_ variable to avoid using the =~ match operator explicitly.

Substitution & Translation

Just like the sed and tr utilities in Unix, you have s/// and tr/// in Perl. The former is for substitution and the later is for translation.

$bar =~ s/this/that/g;      # change this to that in $bar
$path =~ s|/usr/bin|/usr/local/bin|;

s/\bgreen\b/mauve/g;        # don't change wintergreen

s/Login: $foo/Login: $bar/; # run-time pattern
$count = ($paragraph =~ s/Mister\b/Mrg);  # get change-count

$program =~ s {
/\*     # Match the opening delimiter.
.*?     # Match a minimal number of characters.
\*/     # Match the closing delimiter.
} []gsx; # Delete (most) C comments.

s/^\s*(.*?)\s*$/$1/;        # trim white space in $_, expensively
for ($variable) {           # trim white space in $variable, cheap

s/([^ ]*) *([^ ]*)/$2 $1/;  # reverse 1st two fields

#Note the use of $ instead of \ in the last example. Unlike sed,
#we use the \ form in only the left hand side.
#Anywhere else it's $.

$myname = "BABU";
$myname =~ tr/[A-Z]/[a-z]/ ; # yields babu


Perl provides a split function to split strings, based on REs. The syntax is

split /PATTERN/ 
If EXPR is omitted, $_ is used. If PATTERN is also omitted, splits on whitespaces, after skipping leading whitespaces. LIMIT sets the maximum fields returned - so this can be used to split partially. Some examples are given below:
# process the password file
open(PASSWD, '/etc/passwd');
    while () {
        ($login, $passwd, $uid, $gid,
         $gcos, $home, $shell) = split(/:/);
                # note that $shell still has a new line.
                # use chop or chomp to remove the newline
                ($login, $passwd, $remainder) = split(/:/, $_, 3);
                # here we use LIMIT to set the number of fields

We also have join which is the opposite of split. For fixed length strings, we have unpack and pack functions.

2.9 Subroutines

Like any good programming language Perl allows the user to define their own functions, called subroutines. They may be placed anywhere in your program but it's probably best to put them all at the beginning or all at the end. A subroutine has the form

sub mysubroutine
        print "Not a very interesting routine\n";
        print "This does the same thing every time\n";
regardless of any parameters that we may want to pass to it. All of the following will work to call this subroutine. Notice that a subroutine is called with an & character in front of the name:
&mysubroutine;              # Call the subroutine
&mysubroutine($_);  # Call it with a parameter
&mysubroutine(1+2, $_);     # Call it with two parameters


In the above case the parameters are acceptable but ignored. When the subroutine is called any parameters are passed as a list in the special @_ list array variable. This variable has absolutely nothing to do with the $_ scalar variable. The following subroutine merely prints out the list that it was called with. It is followed by a couple of examples of its use.

sub printargs
        print "@_\n";

&printargs("perly", "king");    # Example prints "perly king"
&printargs("frog", "and", "toad"); # Prints "frog and toad"
Just like any other list array the individual elements of @_ can be accessed with the square bracket notation:
sub printfirsttwo
        print "Your first argument was $_[0]\n";
        print "and $_[1] was your second\n";
Again it should be stressed that the indexed scalars $_[0] and $_[1] and so on have nothing to with the scalar $_ which can also be used without fear of a clash.

Returning values

Result of a subroutine is always the last thing evaluated. This subroutine returns the maximum of two input parameters. An example of its use follows.

sub maximum
        if ($_[0] > $_[1])

$biggest = &maximise(37, 24);       # Now $biggest is 37
The &printfirsttwo subroutine above also returns a value, in this case 1. This is because the last thing that subroutine did was a print statement and the result of a successful print statement is always 1.

Local variables

The @_ variable is local to the current subroutine, and so of course are $_[0], $_[1], $_[2], and so on. Other variables can be made local too, and this is useful if we want to start altering the input parameters. The following subroutine tests to see if one string is inside another, spaces not withstanding. An example follows.

sub inside
        local($a, $b);                  # Make local variables
        ($a, $b) = ($_[0], $_[1]);      # Assign values
        $a =~ s/ //g;                   # Strip spaces from
        $b =~ s/ //g;                   #   local variables
        ($a =~ /$b/ || $b =~ /$a/);     # Is $b inside $a
                                        #   or $a inside $b?

&inside("lemon", "dole money");         # true
In fact, it can even be tidied up by replacing the first two lines with
local($a, $b) = ($_[0], $_[1]);

2.10 More information

Only a very brief of Perl is covered in this tutorial. The easiest way to lern Perl is to look at existing code. The Perl manual pages and FAQ's are really superb and will help you a lot. Unless until you are sure, run Perl with the -w switch!

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