Functions, arguments and changing their value permantently

Im coming over to Ruby from C++ after a long break from programming. One
thing im having to get used to is how ruby references or points directly
to variables. In C++ I can pass a variable as an argument to a function
and then change the value within the function. This change will be
reflected outside of the function. How do i go about doing this in ruby?

i.e.

x = 10

def changeit var
var = 20
end

changeit x
puts x
==> 20

x = changeit x

On Mar 24, 9:46 am, Eder Quiñones [email protected] wrote:

x = changeit x

You can easily return multiple arguments (x, y = changeit(x, y)) which
makes the inout semantics rather obsolete (with a few exceptions where
macro would be desirable). Some classes also provide destructive
methods that can be used to replace it’s contents while maintaining
the object’s identity.

On Monday 24 March 2008, Adam A. wrote:

def changeit var
var = 20
end

changeit x
puts x
==> 20

In ruby you pass the object to the method, not a reference to the
variable.
This means that, if you change the object, changes will affect every
variable
which contains the object. On the other hand, changing the object
contained in
the argument of the method (that is, writing var = 20) won’t affect any
other
variable. This means that if some classes are unchangeable (such as all
kind
of numbers and symbols), you can’t do what you want. Other classes
provide
methods which change them in place. As I said, such changes will affect
every
variable which points to the object. Here are some examples which should
make
things clearer:

def m1 str
str.upcase
end

def m2 str
str = “a string”
end

def m3 str
str.upcase!
end

x = “test”

m1 x
puts “After m1 x is: #{x}”

m2 x
puts “After m2 x is: #{x}”

m3 x
puts “After m3 x is: #{x}”

The output is:

After m1 x is: test
After m2 x is: test
After m3 x is: TEST

m1 calls String#upcase, which is a non-destructive method (that is, a
method
which doesn’t change its receiver) and does nothing else. Of course,
this
doesn’t change x.

m2 sets the local variable str, which initially contains the argument
passed
to the method, to a different value, “a string”. In C++, if the argument
was a
reference, this would have also set x to “a string”. In ruby it doesn’t.

m3 calls a destructive method on str. A destructive method changes its
receiver, so the contents of the object contained by str change (notice
that
this is different from the previous case, where a new object was put
into
str). Since str and x contain the same object, x also changes. A method
like
this can be used to achieve the result you wanted, but it can be written
only
if the argument has a destructive method which does what you need (for
example, you couldn’t have done the same for an Integer, since it
doesn’t have
destructive methods).

I hope this helps

Stefano

On Mon, Mar 24, 2008 at 3:12 AM, Adam A. [email protected]
wrote:

def changeit var
var = 20
end

changeit x
puts x
==> 20

Ruby tries to maintain scope rigidly. So your x before will not
change within the scope of the method changeit.

Your method, when called, says…

changeit 10

Then you want to do assignment as…

x = 20

It’s a different x!

You can pull out of local scope with class instance variables or
globals. Your same code, just changed…

@x = 10

def changeit n
@x = n
end

…or return it directly form the method if that’s the only value you
need

x = 10

def changeit n
n
end

x = changeit

…in which case you would probably want to rename the method.

I have to say, I don’t see this as a good design pattern using Ruby,
but I don’t know what you’re trying to do :slight_smile:

I can’t tell by your post, but if really what you want to do is send a
variable “name” into the method and have the method change the value.
That’s different and might require some brainiacs on the list to help
you (my guess is that you would have use some form of #eval).

Todd

On 3/24/08, Adam A. [email protected] wrote:

Im coming over to Ruby from C++ after a long break from programming. One
thing im having to get used to is how ruby references or points directly
to variables. In C++ I can pass a variable as an argument to a function
and then change the value within the function. This change will be
reflected outside of the function. How do i go about doing this in ruby?

Perhaps something here can help you get your head around this aspect
of how Ruby isn’t C++:

http://talklikeaduck.denhaven2.com/articles/2006/09/13/on-variables-values-and-objects
http://talklikeaduck.denhaven2.com/articles/2008/02/08/whose-variable-is-it-anyway

Rick DeNatale

My blog on Ruby
http://talklikeaduck.denhaven2.com/

Sorry I missed this reply

You can easily return multiple arguments (x, y = changeit(x, y)) which
makes the inout semantics rather obsolete (with a few exceptions where
macro would be desirable). Some classes also provide destructive
methods that can be used to replace it’s contents while maintaining
the object’s identity.

which answers my question. Between reading the posts and replying I had
a good nights sleep and still a bit groggy.

On Tue, 25 Mar 2008 08:06:38 +0900, Adam A.
[email protected] wrote:

Thank you so much for all of your detailed replies. Some of you asked
why I wanted to do this and why don`t I just return the value to the
variable I want to change ala x = doit x

Well actually my function changes 2 values. Functions can only pass one
back so I thought I`d pass one as an argument as well. Is that bad
programming design? What are other options?

You could have the function return multiple values as an array:

def foo(x, y)
[ x + y, x * y ]
end

sum, product = foo(2, 3)
puts sum
puts product

-mental

Thank you so much for all of your detailed replies. Some of you asked
why I wanted to do this and why don`t I just return the value to the
variable I want to change ala x = doit x

Well actually my function changes 2 values. Functions can only pass one
back so I thought I`d pass one as an argument as well. Is that bad
programming design? What are other options?

Many thanks

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