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12.7 Traversing Arrays of Arrays

Arrays of Arrays, described how gawk provides arrays of arrays. In particular, any element of an array may be either a scalar, or another array. The isarray() function (see section Getting Type Information) lets you distinguish an array from a scalar. The following function, walk_array(), recursively traverses an array, printing each element’s indices and value. You call it with the array and a string representing the name of the array:

function walk_array(arr, name,      i)
{
    for (i in arr) {
        if (isarray(arr[i]))
            walk_array(arr[i], (name "[" i "]"))
        else
            printf("%s[%s] = %s\n", name, i, arr[i])
    }
}

It works by looping over each element of the array. If any given element is itself an array, the function calls itself recursively, passing the subarray and a new string representing the current index. Otherwise, the function simply prints the element’s name, index, and value. Here is a main program to demonstrate:

BEGIN {
    a[1] = 1
    a[2][1] = 21
    a[2][2] = 22
    a[3] = 3
    a[4][1][1] = 411
    a[4][2] = 42

    walk_array(a, "a")
}

When run, the program produces the following output:

$ gawk -f walk_array.awk
-| a[4][1][1] = 411
-| a[4][2] = 42
-| a[1] = 1
-| a[2][1] = 21
-| a[2][2] = 22
-| a[3] = 3

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