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Additional Lisp Data Types. Arrays and Vectors Hash tables Structures Reference Successful Lisp Arrays and Vectors. Lisp arrays are special types of data objects Array indices start with 0 A 1-dimensional array is also called a vector

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Additional Lisp Data Types

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Additional lisp data types l.jpg

Additional Lisp Data Types

  • Arrays and Vectors

  • Hash tables

  • Structures

  • Reference Successful Lisp

Arrays and vectors l.jpg

Arrays and Vectors

  • Lisp arrays are special types of data objects

  • Array indices start with 0

  • A 1-dimensional array is also called a vector

  • Arrays are created with make-array Array's size is specified at creation

    > (setf my-vector (make-array '(3)))


  • Elements are accessed and changed using aref

    > (aref my-vector 2) ; define


    > (setf (aref my-vector 2)'element-3) ; change


    > (aref my-vector 2) ; check


Array initialization l.jpg

Array Initialization

  • Using the :initial-contents keyword

    > (setf array (make-array 100 :initial-element nil))


    > (make-array '(2 3 4) :initialcontents

    '(((a b c d) (e f g h) (i j k l))

    ((m n o p) (q r s t) (u v w x))))

    (((A B C D) (E F G H) (I J K L))

    ((M N O P) (Q R S T)(U V W X)))

  • Vector:

    > (setf *color* (vector 'red 'green 'blue))


    > (aref *color* 1) ; check


    > (svref *color* 2) ; check


Hash tables l.jpg

Hash Tables

  • Data structures that store values along with keys

  • The value is accessed via the key

  • A hash function allows faster access than searching

  • Lisp has a built-in hash table data structure

  • 3 variants based on whether key is matched with eq, eql or equal

  • Basic operations

    1. Access an item given its key

    (gethash<key> <hashtable>)

    returns the value referenced by <key> or nil it key not found

    2. Insert a new [key, value] entry in the table

    > (setf (gethash ’george table) ’smith)

    > (gethash 'george table)


    3. Delete an entry using remhash

    (remhash<key> <hashtable>)

Hash table size l.jpg

Hash Table Size

Hash Tables are usually implemented as (large) arrays

  • Hash table with10 items may be stored in an array of 100 elements

    • Hash tables can be wasteful of memory space

  • Therefore in CL, hash tables can grow automatically

    • Specify anoriginalanda growth size when creating hash table

      (make-hash-table :size <n> :rehash-size <r> :rehashthreshold<t> )

    • starts with size <n>

    • when need increases size in increments of <r>

    • <t> specifies when size should change

    • <n>, <r> and <t> have implementation-specific defaults

      (make-hash-table :size 100 :rehash-size 90

      :rehash-threshold :80)

      when the table has 80 entries, it will grow to190 elements

Successful and failed accesses l.jpg

Successful and Failed Accesses

  • gethash actually returns two values

    • the value matching the key & whether the key was found or not (t or nil)

    • if the key is not in the hash table, both responses are nil but you can provide default return value

      (gethash<key> <hashtable> <defaultvalue>)

      (gethash 'key table 'error)

      returns error if key is not in table

  • setfreplaces an entry if an entry with the same key exists in the hash table,

    • no error is indicated

    • you may want to test whether an entry exists first

      (if (gethash key table) ’error

      (setf (gethash key table) value))

Other hash table functions l.jpg

Other Hash Table Functions

  • maphash

    • applies given function to every entry of the hash table

      • each entry in the table is a pair (the key and the value), therefore the function must accept two arguments

      • e.g.:

        (defun print-hash-items (x y) (print (list x y)))

        (maphash #’print-hash-items a)

        -> this prints all entries in the hash table

  • clrhash

    • clears all entries from a hash table returns the empty table

  • hash-table-count

    • returns the number of entries in the hash table (0 if empty)

  • implementation of hash tables is not prescribed

    • e.g., they can be implemented as association lists

Structures l.jpg


  • Structures allow you to create non-homogenous data structures

    • In C, these are called "structs"

    • Java objects are similar, but not equivalent

    • Lisp structures offer a lot of short-cuts options and access functions (unlike in C or Java)

  • Define a structure with

    (defstruct <name> <slots>)

    • <slots>are names for each item/member of the structure, e.g.

      (defstruct person name sex age occupation)

    • defstruct allows variety of keyword arguments for a slot, e.g.

      • :type limits a slot to values from a specific data type

      • :read-only fills a slot's with an initialization/default value

        (the name and value are wrapped in ())

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Generated Functions on Structures

  • Once a structure is defined with defstruct

    • You can generate instances of the structure and access the slots

    • Several functions are automatically generated for you

  • make-structname creates an instance of structure called structname, e.g.:

    (make-person) creates an instance of the structure person

    • You can specify initial values using :slot <value>

      (make-person :name 'Frank :age 53)returns the structure

      (setf frank (make-person :name ’Frank :age 53))

      stores the instance in the variable frank

    • Not initialized slots without default values have the value nil

  • structname-slotname accesses the slot, e.g.:

    (person-age frank) returns the value of age slot in frank

  • structname-slotname can be used in setf , e.g.:

    (setf (person-age frank) 50)

  • name-p is a type-checking predicate functions

    • (person-p frank) -> T

    • you can also write (typep frank 'person)

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Other Structure Comments

  • You can instantiate a structure using

    #s(<type> <values>)

    (setf p #s(person :name 'jim :age 44 :sex 'm))

    • slots not listed default to their default values or nil

    • the same form can be used with arrays

  • You can have other functions generated in defstruct

    • Define a constructor function

    • Define a copier function (to make a copy of a structure)

    • Define a predicate function

    • one is automatically created, but you can have another name

      • To create these

    • wrap the structure name and these commands in ()'s

  • To define inheritance use:include<struct-type>

  • Example structure l.jpg

    Example Structure

    (defstruct person name (sex 'm) age (occupation 'unknown))

    (setf p1 (make-person :name 'Bob :age 20))

    (setf p2 (make-person :name 'Sue :sex 'f :age 33 :occupation 'student))

    (print (list "enter occupation for" (person-name p1)))

    (setf (person-occupation p1) (read))

    (defstruct (doctor (:include person)) medical-school (done-interning t))

    • Note: the structure's name and “parent” are in () then come the new slots

      (setf p3 (make-doctor :name 'Fred :age 49 :occupation 'doctor :medical-school 'UH))

  • similarly define a :print-name function to print out the structure

  • and define :conc-name to provide another access to a slot

    • e.g., (p-n p1) instead of (person-name p1)

  • details are in Successful Lisp, Chapters 3 and 6


  • More on structure inheritance l.jpg

    More on Structure “Inheritance”

    • The inheritance for structures is not controllable - we can’t override what we inherit

      • In the previous example we had to specify the occupation of p3 to give it an initial value

      • We would normally prefer to include (occupation ’doctor) in the defstruct for doctor so that all doctors have a default occupation, but that would override part of person’s definition

    • Similarly, we cannot use multiple inheritance for structures

      • We can using classes to get around this problem

    • If a variable points to a structure that inherits from another, you can use either structure to specify the slots

      • So p1’s slots are accessed by (person-slot p1) but p3’s slots can be accessed either by (person-slot p3) or (doctor-slot p3)

      • (person-p p1) , (person-p p2) and (doctor-p p2) return t and (doctor-p p1) is nil

    Constructor l.jpg


    • With :constructor you can specify the name of a default constructor along with its parameters

      • You can only use this if you place the structure’s name inside ()

        (defstruct (foobar (:constructor construct-foobar (…))) …)

        not (defstruct foobar (:constructor…))

    • The parameters listed should be the same names as the slots

    • You can use &key or &optional

    • We change our person:

      (defstruct (person (:constructor construct-person

      (name &optional age sex occupation)))

      name age (sex ’m) (occupation ’unknown))

      • Now we can use (make-person) or (make-person:name…) or (construct-person ’fred), etc.

      • Now we don't need to initialize slots using :slot-name <value> format

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