Iteration in Dylan

Simple iteration with while and until

while (condition?)
  // do something while the test condition? is true
until (condition?)
  // do something until the test condition? is true

Read more in the DRM: while and until.

The for loop

The for loop can be used in many different ways. We demonstrate some of the most commonly used features here:

Iterating over a collection

for (element in collection)
  // do something with element

Iterating over a range

for (count from 0 below num)
  // do work
  // count ranges from 0 to the integer below num

for (column from 1 to 3)
  // do work
  // count ranges from 1 to 3, inclusive.

// Changing the stepping and going in reverse
for (index from stop - 1 to start by -1)
  // index will start at 'stop - 1' and end at the
  // value of 'start', decrementing by 1 with each
  // iteration of the loop.

Iterating over a table

The easiest way to iterate over a table is to use an extension to the standard for loop that Open Dylan supports:

for (value keyed-by key in table)
  // do work

If you want to directly access the keys of the table, you can use key-sequence:

for (key in table.key-sequence)
  // do work

Breaking out of a loop

Breaking out of a loop is just like any other non-local exit in Dylan. Combine any loop with a block expression:

let result = block (exit-block)
               while (~done())
                 if (got-error?())

In the example, if the loop ends naturally because done() returns true, then the result is 2 because the while exits naturally and 2 is the last expression in the block. If got-error? returns true, the result is 1 because that was the value passed to exit-block.

Collection Functions

When working with a collection, some additional operations are available that remove the need for explicit iteration over the collection.

In all of these, the function passed in can be any of:

  • An existing function.

  • An escaped operator name (\+ for example).

  • A locally defined method.

  • The result of a method that returns a function such as curry rcurry or other functional operations.


do iterates over one or more collections, performing side effects:

do(method (x)
     format-out("%s\n", x)
   #[1, 2, 3])

map, map-as, map-into

map iterates over one or more collections, applying a function and returns the results in a new collection. map-as and map-into allow control over the way that the results are returned.

let type-bindings = map(generate-type-binding, all-var-specs);
let strings = map(curry(as, <string>), names);
let c-direct-superclasses = map-as(<list>, convert, direct-superclasses(c));

Read more in the DRM: map, map-as, map-into.

reduce, reduce1

reduce combines the elements of a collection and a seed value into a single value by repeatedly applying a binary function.

reduce1 is similar to reduce, except that the first value of the collection is used as the seed value.

reduce(\*, 1, dimensions(x))
reduce1(\+, #(1, 2, 3, 4, 5))

reduce is often combined with map operations:

reduce(\+, 0, map(size, qqs))

Iteration with Tail Recursion

The iterate macro in the common-dylan library is another powerful way to do iteration. It relies on the fact that Dylan implementations are required to optimize tail recursion.

let x = 7;
let factorial = iterate loop (n = x, total = 1)
                  if (n < 2)
                    loop(n - 1, n * total)   // tail call = iteration

Here iterate creates a local method, loop, with two parameters n and total which calls itself recursively until n < 2 is true and then it returns the value of total. It then calls the method with the parameter default values, x and 1.

You could of course do the same thing with a local method yourself but the iterate macro makes it more concise.