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       To declare subroutines:

           sub NAME;                     # A "forward" declaration.
           sub NAME(PROTO);              #  ditto, but with prototypes
           sub NAME : ATTRS;             #  with attributes
           sub NAME(PROTO) : ATTRS;      #  with attributes and prototypes

           sub NAME BLOCK                # A declaration and a definition.
           sub NAME(PROTO) BLOCK         #  ditto, but with prototypes
           sub NAME : ATTRS BLOCK        #  with attributes
           sub NAME(PROTO) : ATTRS BLOCK #  with prototypes and attributes

       To define an anonymous subroutine at runtime:

           $subref = sub BLOCK;                 # no proto
           $subref = sub (PROTO) BLOCK;         # with proto
           $subref = sub : ATTRS BLOCK;         # with attributes
           $subref = sub (PROTO) : ATTRS BLOCK; # with proto and attributes

       To import subroutines:

           use MODULE qw(NAME1 NAME2 NAME3);

       To call subroutines:

           NAME(LIST);    # & is optional with parentheses.
           NAME LIST;     # Parentheses optional if predeclared/imported.
           &NAME(LIST);   # Circumvent prototypes.
           &NAME;         # Makes current @_ visible to called subroutine.


       Like many languages, Perl provides for user-defined sub­
       routines.  These may be located anywhere in the main pro­
       gram, loaded in from other files via the "do", "require",
       or "use" keywords, or generated on the fly using "eval" or
       anonymous subroutines.  You can even call a function indi­
       rectly using a variable containing its name or a CODE ref­

       The Perl model for function call and return values is sim­
       ple: all functions are passed as parameters one single
       flat list of scalars, and all functions likewise return to
       their caller one single flat list of scalars.  Any arrays
       or hashes in these call and return lists will collapse,
       losing their identities--but you may always use pass-by-
       reference instead to avoid this.  Both call and return
       lists may contain as many or as few scalar elements as
       you'd like.  (Often a function without an explicit return
       statement is called a subroutine, but there's really no
       difference from Perl's perspective.)

       The return value of a subroutine is the value of the last
       expression evaluated.  More explicitly, a "return" state­
       ment may be used to exit the subroutine, optionally speci­
       fying the returned value, which will be evaluated in the
       appropriate context (list, scalar, or void) depending on
       the context of the subroutine call.  If you specify no
       return value, the subroutine returns an empty list in list
       context, the undefined value in scalar context, or nothing
       in void context.  If you return one or more aggregates
       (arrays and hashes), these will be flattened together into
       one large indistinguishable list.

       Perl does not have named formal parameters.  In practice
       all you do is assign to a "my()" list of these.  Variables
       that aren't declared to be private are global variables.
       For gory details on creating private variables, see "Pri­
       vate Variables via my()" and "Temporary Values via
       local()".  To create protected environments for a set of
       functions in a separate package (and probably a separate
       file), see "Packages" in perlmod.


           sub max {
               my $max = shift(@_);
               foreach $foo (@_) {
                   $max = $foo if $max < $foo;
               return $max;
           $bestday = max($mon,$tue,$wed,$thu,$fri);


           # get a line, combining continuation lines
           #  that start with whitespace

           sub get_line {
               $thisline = $lookahead;  # global variables!
               LINE: while (defined($lookahead = <STDIN>)) {
                   if ($lookahead =~ /^[ \t]/) {
                       $thisline .= $lookahead;
                   else {
                       last LINE;
               return $thisline;

           $lookahead = <STDIN>;       # get first line

       call-by-value.  Otherwise a function is free to do in-
       place modifications of @_ and change its caller's values.

           upcase_in($v1, $v2);  # this changes $v1 and $v2
           sub upcase_in {
               for (@_) { tr/a-z/A-Z/ }

       You aren't allowed to modify constants in this way, of
       course.  If an argument were actually literal and you
       tried to change it, you'd take a (presumably fatal) excep­
       tion.   For example, this won't work:


       It would be much safer if the "upcase_in()" function were
       written to return a copy of its parameters instead of
       changing them in place:

           ($v3, $v4) = upcase($v1, $v2);  # this doesn't change $v1 and $v2
           sub upcase {
               return unless defined wantarray;  # void context, do nothing
               my @parms = @_;
               for (@parms) { tr/a-z/A-Z/ }
               return wantarray ? @parms : $parms[0];

       Notice how this (unprototyped) function doesn't care
       whether it was passed real scalars or arrays.  Perl sees
       all arguments as one big, long, flat parameter list in @_.
       This is one area where Perl's simple argument-passing
       style shines.  The "upcase()" function would work per­
       fectly well without changing the "upcase()" definition
       even if we fed it things like this:

           @newlist   = upcase(@list1, @list2);
           @newlist   = upcase( split /:/, $var );

       Do not, however, be tempted to do this:

           (@a, @b)   = upcase(@list1, @list2);

       Like the flattened incoming parameter list, the return
       list is also flattened on return.  So all you have managed
       to do here is stored everything in @a and made @b empty.
       See "Pass by Reference" for alternatives.

       A subroutine may be called using an explicit "&" prefix.
       The "&" is optional in modern Perl, as are parentheses if
       the subroutine has been predeclared.  The "&" is not
       optional when just naming the subroutine, such as when
       it's used as an argument to defined() or undef().  Nor is
           foo(1,2,3);         # the same

           foo();              # pass a null list
           &foo();             # the same

           &foo;               # foo() get current args, like foo(@_) !!
           foo;                # like foo() IFF sub foo predeclared, else "foo"

       Not only does the "&" form make the argument list
       optional, it also disables any prototype checking on argu­
       ments you do provide.  This is partly for historical rea­
       sons, and partly for having a convenient way to cheat if
       you know what you're doing.  See Prototypes below.

       Functions whose names are in all upper case are reserved
       to the Perl core, as are modules whose names are in all
       lower case.  A function in all capitals is a loosely-held
       convention meaning it will be called indirectly by the
       run-time system itself, usually due to a triggered event.
       Functions that do special, pre-defined things include
       "BEGIN", "CHECK", "INIT", "END", "AUTOLOAD", "CLONE" and
       "DESTROY"--plus all functions mentioned in perltie.

       Private Variables via my()


           my $foo;            # declare $foo lexically local
           my (@wid, %get);    # declare list of variables local
           my $foo = "flurp";  # declare $foo lexical, and init it
           my @oof = @bar;     # declare @oof lexical, and init it
           my $x : Foo = $y;   # similar, with an attribute applied

       WARNING: The use of attribute lists on "my" declarations
       is still evolving.  The current semantics and interface
       are subject to change.  See attributes and Attribute::Han­

       The "my" operator declares the listed variables to be lex­
       ically confined to the enclosing block, conditional
       ("if/unless/elsif/else"), loop ("for/fore­
       ach/while/until/continue"), subroutine, "eval", or
       "do/require/use"'d file.  If more than one value is
       listed, the list must be placed in parentheses.  All
       listed elements must be legal lvalues.  Only alphanumeric
       identifiers may be lexically scoped--magical built-ins
       like $/ must currently be "local"ize with "local" instead.

       Unlike dynamic variables created by the "local" operator,
       lexical variables declared with "my" are totally hidden
       from the outside world, including any called subroutines.
       This is true if it's the same subroutine called from
       aren't hidden by declarations within the "eval()" itself.
       See perlref.

       The parameter list to my() may be assigned to if desired,
       which allows you to initialize your variables.  (If no
       initializer is given for a particular variable, it is cre­
       ated with the undefined value.)  Commonly this is used to
       name input parameters to a subroutine.  Examples:

           $arg = "fred";        # "global" variable
           $n = cube_root(27);
           print "$arg thinks the root is $n\n";
        fred thinks the root is 3

           sub cube_root {
               my $arg = shift;  # name doesn't matter
               $arg **= 1/3;
               return $arg;

       The "my" is simply a modifier on something you might
       assign to.  So when you do assign to variables in its
       argument list, "my" doesn't change whether those variables
       are viewed as a scalar or an array.  So

           my ($foo) = <STDIN>;                # WRONG?
           my @FOO = <STDIN>;

       both supply a list context to the right-hand side, while

           my $foo = <STDIN>;

       supplies a scalar context.  But the following declares
       only one variable:

           my $foo, $bar = 1;                  # WRONG

       That has the same effect as

           my $foo;
           $bar = 1;

       The declared variable is not introduced (is not visible)
       until after the current statement.  Thus,

           my $x = $x;

       can be used to initialize a new $x with the value of the
       old $x, and the expression

           my $x = 123 and $x == 123

       the rest of the loop construct (including the "continue"
       clause), but not beyond it.  Similarly, in the conditional

           if ((my $answer = <STDIN>) =~ /^yes$/i) {
           } elsif ($answer =~ /^no$/i) {
           } else {
               chomp $answer;
               die "'$answer' is neither 'yes' nor 'no'";

       the scope of $answer extends from its declaration through
       the rest of that conditional, including any "elsif" and
       "else" clauses, but not beyond it.  See "Simple state­
       ments" in perlsyn for information on the scope of vari­
       ables in statements with modifiers.

       The "foreach" loop defaults to scoping its index variable
       dynamically in the manner of "local".  However, if the
       index variable is prefixed with the keyword "my", or if
       there is already a lexical by that name in scope, then a
       new lexical is created instead.  Thus in the loop

           for my $i (1, 2, 3) {

       the scope of $i extends to the end of the loop, but not
       beyond it, rendering the value of $i inaccessible within

       Some users may wish to encourage the use of lexically
       scoped variables.  As an aid to catching implicit uses to
       package variables, which are always global, if you say

           use strict 'vars';

       then any variable mentioned from there to the end of the
       enclosing block must either refer to a lexical variable,
       be predeclared via "our" or "use vars", or else must be
       fully qualified with the package name.  A compilation
       error results otherwise.  An inner block may countermand
       this with "no strict 'vars'".

       A "my" has both a compile-time and a run-time effect.  At
       compile time, the compiler takes notice of it.  The prin­
       cipal usefulness of this is to quiet "use strict 'vars'",
       but it is also essential for generation of closures as
       detailed in perlref.  Actual initialization is delayed
       until run time, though, so it gets executed at the appro­
       priate time, such as each time through a loop, for exam­

           package main;
           local $x = 10;
           my    $x = 20;
           print "$x and $::x\n";

       That will print out 20 and 10.

       You may declare "my" variables at the outermost scope of a
       file to hide any such identifiers from the world outside
       that file.  This is similar in spirit to C's static vari­
       ables when they are used at the file level.  To do this
       with a subroutine requires the use of a closure (an anony­
       mous function that accesses enclosing lexicals).  If you
       want to create a private subroutine that cannot be called
       from outside that block, it can declare a lexical variable
       containing an anonymous sub reference:

           my $secret_version = '1.001-beta';
           my $secret_sub = sub { print $secret_version };

       As long as the reference is never returned by any function
       within the module, no outside module can see the subrou­
       tine, because its name is not in any package's symbol
       table.  Remember that it's not REALLY called
       $some_pack::secret_version or anything; it's just
       $secret_version, unqualified and unqualifiable.

       This does not work with object methods, however; all
       object methods have to be in the symbol table of some
       package to be found.  See "Function Templates" in perlref
       for something of a work-around to this.

       Persistent Private Variables

       Just because a lexical variable is lexically (also called
       statically) scoped to its enclosing block, "eval", or "do"
       FILE, this doesn't mean that within a function it works
       like a C static.  It normally works more like a C auto,
       but with implicit garbage collection.

       Unlike local variables in C or C++, Perl's lexical vari­
       ables don't necessarily get recycled just because their
       scope has exited.  If something more permanent is still
       aware of the lexical, it will stick around.  So long as
       something else references a lexical, that lexical won't be
       freed--which is as it should be.  You wouldn't want memory
       being free until you were done using it, or kept around
       once you were done.  Automatic garbage collection takes
       care of this for you.

           # $secret_val now becomes unreachable by the outside
           # world, but retains its value between calls to gimme_another

       If this function is being sourced in from a separate file
       via "require" or "use", then this is probably just fine.
       If it's all in the main program, you'll need to arrange
       for the "my" to be executed early, either by putting the
       whole block above your main program, or more likely, plac­
       ing merely a "BEGIN" sub around it to make sure it gets
       executed before your program starts to run:

           sub BEGIN {
               my $secret_val = 0;
               sub gimme_another {
                   return ++$secret_val;

       See "Package Constructors and Destructors" in perlmod
       about the special triggered functions, "BEGIN", "CHECK",
       "INIT" and "END".

       If declared at the outermost scope (the file scope), then
       lexicals work somewhat like C's file statics.  They are
       available to all functions in that same file declared
       below them, but are inaccessible from outside that file.
       This strategy is sometimes used in modules to create pri­
       vate variables that the whole module can see.

       Temporary Values via local()

       WARNING: In general, you should be using "my" instead of
       "local", because it's faster and safer.  Exceptions to
       this include the global punctuation variables, filehandles
       and formats, and direct manipulation of the Perl symbol
       table itself.  Format variables often use "local" though,
       as do other variables whose current value must be visible
       to called subroutines.


           local $foo;                 # declare $foo dynamically local
           local (@wid, %get);         # declare list of variables local
           local $foo = "flurp";       # declare $foo dynamic, and init it
           local @oof = @bar;          # declare @oof dynamic, and init it

           local *FH;                  # localize $FH, @FH, %FH, &FH  ...
           local *merlyn = *randal;    # now $merlyn is really $randal, plus
                                       #     @merlyn is really @randal, etc
           local *merlyn = 'randal';   # SAME THING: promote 'randal' to *randal

       stack and restoring them upon exiting the block, subrou­
       tine, or eval.  This means that called subroutines can
       also reference the local variable, but not the global one.
       The argument list may be assigned to if desired, which
       allows you to initialize your local variables.  (If no
       initializer is given for a particular variable, it is cre­
       ated with an undefined value.)  Commonly this is used to
       name the parameters to a subroutine.  Examples:

           for $i ( 0 .. 9 ) {
               $digits{$i} = $i;
           # assume this function uses global %digits hash

           # now temporarily add to %digits hash
           if ($base12) {
               # (NOTE: not claiming this is efficient!)
               local %digits  = (%digits, 't' => 10, 'e' => 11);
               parse_num();  # parse_num gets this new %digits!
           # old %digits restored here

       Because "local" is a run-time operator, it gets executed
       each time through a loop.  In releases of Perl previous to
       5.0, this used more stack storage each time until the loop
       was exited.  Perl now reclaims the space each time
       through, but it's still more efficient to declare your
       variables outside the loop.

       A "local" is simply a modifier on an lvalue expression.
       When you assign to a "local"ized variable, the "local"
       doesn't change whether its list is viewed as a scalar or
       an array.  So

           local($foo) = <STDIN>;
           local @FOO = <STDIN>;

       both supply a list context to the right-hand side, while

           local $foo = <STDIN>;

       supplies a scalar context.

       A note about "local()" and composite types is in order.
       Something like "local(%foo)" works by temporarily placing
       a brand new hash in the symbol table.  The old hash is
       left alone, but is hidden "behind" the new one.

       This means the old variable is completely invisible via
       the symbol table (i.e. the hash entry in the *foo type­
       glob) for the duration of the dynamic scope within which
                 local %ahash;
                 [..%ahash is a normal (untied) hash here..]
           [..%ahash back to its initial tied self again..]

       WARNING The code example above does not currently work as
       described.  This will be fixed in a future release of
       Perl; in the meantime, avoid code that relies on any par­
       ticular behaviour of localising tied arrays or hashes
       (localising individual elements is still okay).  See
       "Localising Tied Arrays and Hashes Is Broken" in perldelta
       for more details.

       As another example, a custom implementation of %ENV might
       look like this:

               local %ENV;
               tie %ENV, 'MyOwnEnv';
               [..do your own fancy %ENV manipulation here..]
           [..normal %ENV behavior here..]

       It's also worth taking a moment to explain what happens
       when you "local"ize a member of a composite type (i.e. an
       array or hash element).  In this case, the element is
       "local"ized by name. This means that when the scope of the
       "local()" ends, the saved value will be restored to the
       hash element whose key was named in the "local()", or the
       array element whose index was named in the "local()".  If
       that element was deleted while the "local()" was in effect
       (e.g. by a "delete()" from a hash or a "shift()" of an
       array), it will spring back into existence, possibly
       extending an array and filling in the skipped elements
       with "undef".  For instance, if you say

           %hash = ( 'This' => 'is', 'a' => 'test' );
           @ary  = ( 0..5 );
                local($ary[5]) = 6;
                local($hash{'a'}) = 'drill';
                while (my $e = pop(@ary)) {
                    print "$e . . .\n";
                    last unless $e > 3;
                if (@ary) {
                    $hash{'only a'} = 'test';
                    delete $hash{'a'};
           print join(' ', map { "$_ $hash{$_}" } sort keys %hash),".\n";

       ite types is subject to change in future.

       Lvalue subroutines

       WARNING: Lvalue subroutines are still experimental and the
       implementation may change in future versions of Perl.

       It is possible to return a modifiable value from a subrou­
       tine.  To do this, you have to declare the subroutine to
       return an lvalue.

           my $val;
           sub canmod : lvalue {
               # return $val; this doesn't work, don't say "return"
           sub nomod {

           canmod() = 5;   # assigns to $val
           nomod()  = 5;   # ERROR

       The scalar/list context for the subroutine and for the
       right-hand side of assignment is determined as if the sub­
       routine call is replaced by a scalar. For example, con­

           data(2,3) = get_data(3,4);

       Both subroutines here are called in a scalar context,
       while in:

           (data(2,3)) = get_data(3,4);

       and in:

           (data(2),data(3)) = get_data(3,4);

       all the subroutines are called in a list context.

       Lvalue subroutines are EXPERIMENTAL
           They appear to be convenient, but there are several
           reasons to be circumspect.

           You can't use the return keyword, you must pass out
           the value before falling out of subroutine scope. (see
           comment in example above).  This is usually not a
           problem, but it disallows an explicit return out of a
           deeply nested loop, which is sometimes a nice way out.

           They violate encapsulation.  A normal mutator can

               # set_arr_lv cannot stop this !
               set_arr_lv() = { a => 1 };

       Passing Symbol Table Entries (typeglobs)

       WARNING: The mechanism described in this section was orig­
       inally the only way to simulate pass-by-reference in older
       versions of Perl.  While it still works fine in modern
       versions, the new reference mechanism is generally easier
       to work with.  See below.

       Sometimes you don't want to pass the value of an array to
       a subroutine but rather the name of it, so that the sub­
       routine can modify the global copy of it rather than work­
       ing with a local copy.  In perl you can refer to all
       objects of a particular name by prefixing the name with a
       star: *foo.  This is often known as a "typeglob", because
       the star on the front can be thought of as a wildcard
       match for all the funny prefix characters on variables and
       subroutines and such.

       When evaluated, the typeglob produces a scalar value that
       represents all the objects of that name, including any
       filehandle, format, or subroutine.  When assigned to, it
       causes the name mentioned to refer to whatever "*" value
       was assigned to it.  Example:

           sub doubleary {
               local(*someary) = @_;
               foreach $elem (@someary) {
                   $elem *= 2;

       Scalars are already passed by reference, so you can modify
       scalar arguments without using this mechanism by referring
       explicitly to $_[0] etc.  You can modify all the elements
       of an array by passing all the elements as scalars, but
       you have to use the "*" mechanism (or the equivalent ref­
       erence mechanism) to "push", "pop", or change the size of
       an array.  It will certainly be faster to pass the type­
       glob (or reference).

       Even if you don't want to modify an array, this mechanism
       is useful for passing multiple arrays in a single LIST,
       because normally the LIST mechanism will merge all the
       array values so that you can't extract out the individual
           variables, must be "local"ized with "local()".  This
           block reads in /etc/motd, and splits it up into chunks
           separated by lines of equal signs, which are placed in

                   local @ARGV = ("/etc/motd");
                   local $/ = undef;
                   local $_ = <>;
                   @Fields = split /^\s*=+\s*$/;

           It particular, it's important to "local"ize $_ in any
           routine that assigns to it.  Look out for implicit
           assignments in "while" conditionals.

       2.  You need to create a local file or directory handle or
           a local function.

           A function that needs a filehandle of its own must use
           "local()" on a complete typeglob.   This can be used
           to create new symbol table entries:

               sub ioqueue {
                   local  (*READER, *WRITER);    # not my!
                   pipe    (READER,  WRITER)     or die "pipe: $!";
                   return (*READER, *WRITER);
               ($head, $tail) = ioqueue();

           See the Symbol module for a way to create anonymous
           symbol table entries.

           Because assignment of a reference to a typeglob cre­
           ates an alias, this can be used to create what is
           effectively a local function, or at least, a local

                   local *grow = \&shrink; # only until this block exists
                   grow();                 # really calls shrink()
                   move();                 # if move() grow()s, it shrink()s too
               grow();                     # get the real grow() again

           See "Function Templates" in perlref for more about
           manipulating functions by name in this way.

       3.  You want to temporarily change just one element of an
           array or hash.

           You can "local"ize just one element of an aggregate.

       If you want to pass more than one array or hash into a
       function--or return them from it--and have them maintain
       their integrity, then you're going to have to use an
       explicit pass-by-reference.  Before you do that, you need
       to understand references as detailed in perlref.  This
       section may not make much sense to you otherwise.

       Here are a few simple examples.  First, let's pass in sev­
       eral arrays to a function and have it "pop" all of then,
       returning a new list of all their former last elements:

           @tailings = popmany ( \@a, \@b, \@c, \@d );

           sub popmany {
               my $aref;
               my @retlist = ();
               foreach $aref ( @_ ) {
                   push @retlist, pop @$aref;
               return @retlist;

       Here's how you might write a function that returns a list
       of keys occurring in all the hashes passed to it:

           @common = inter( \%foo, \%bar, \%joe );
           sub inter {
               my ($k, $href, %seen); # locals
               foreach $href (@_) {
                   while ( $k = each %$href ) {
               return grep { $seen{$_} == @_ } keys %seen;

       So far, we're using just the normal list return mechanism.
       What happens if you want to pass or return a hash?  Well,
       if you're using only one of them, or you don't mind them
       concatenating, then the normal calling convention is ok,
       although a little expensive.

       Where people get into trouble is here:

           (@a, @b) = func(@c, @d);
           (%a, %b) = func(%c, %d);

       That syntax simply won't work.  It sets just @a or %a and
       clears the @b or %b.  Plus the function didn't get passed
       into two separate arrays or hashes: it got one long list
       in @_, as always.
                   return ($dref, $cref);

       It turns out that you can actually do this also:

           (*a, *b) = func(\@c, \@d);
           print "@a has more than @b\n";
           sub func {
               local (*c, *d) = @_;
               if (@c > @d) {
                   return (\@c, \@d);
               } else {
                   return (\@d, \@c);

       Here we're using the typeglobs to do symbol table alias­
       ing.  It's a tad subtle, though, and also won't work if
       you're using "my" variables, because only globals (even in
       disguise as "local"s) are in the symbol table.

       If you're passing around filehandles, you could usually
       just use the bare typeglob, like *STDOUT, but typeglobs
       references work, too.  For example:

           sub splutter {
               my $fh = shift;
               print $fh "her um well a hmmm\n";

           $rec = get_rec(\*STDIN);
           sub get_rec {
               my $fh = shift;
               return scalar <$fh>;

       If you're planning on generating new filehandles, you
       could do this.  Notice to pass back just the bare *FH, not
       its reference.

           sub openit {
               my $path = shift;
               local *FH;
               return open (FH, $path) ? *FH : undef;


       Perl supports a very limited kind of compile-time argument
       checking using function prototyping.  If you declare

       Method calls are not influenced by prototypes either,
       because the function to be called is indeterminate at com­
       pile time, since the exact code called depends on inheri­

       Because the intent of this feature is primarily to let you
       define subroutines that work like built-in functions, here
       are prototypes for some other functions that parse almost
       exactly like the corresponding built-in.

           Declared as                 Called as

           sub mylink ($$)          mylink $old, $new
           sub myvec ($$$)          myvec $var, $offset, 1
           sub myindex ($$;$)       myindex &getstring, "substr"
           sub mysyswrite ($$$;$)   mysyswrite $buf, 0, length($buf) - $off, $off
           sub myreverse (@)        myreverse $a, $b, $c
           sub myjoin ($@)          myjoin ":", $a, $b, $c
           sub mypop (\@)           mypop @array
           sub mysplice (\@$$@)     mysplice @array, @array, 0, @pushme
           sub mykeys (\%)          mykeys %{$hashref}
           sub myopen (*;$)         myopen HANDLE, $name
           sub mypipe (**)          mypipe READHANDLE, WRITEHANDLE
           sub mygrep (&@)          mygrep { /foo/ } $a, $b, $c
           sub myrand ($)           myrand 42
           sub mytime ()            mytime

       Any backslashed prototype character represents an actual
       argument that absolutely must start with that character.
       The value passed as part of @_ will be a reference to the
       actual argument given in the subroutine call, obtained by
       applying "\" to that argument.

       You can also backslash several argument types simultane­
       ously by using the "\[]" notation:

           sub myref (\[$@%&*])

       will allow calling myref() as

           myref $var
           myref @array
           myref %hash
           myref &sub
           myref *glob

       and the first argument of myref() will be a reference to a
       scalar, an array, a hash, a code, or a glob.

       Unbackslashed prototype characters have special meanings.
           use Symbol 'qualify_to_ref';

           sub foo (*) {
               my $fh = qualify_to_ref(shift, caller);

       A semicolon separates mandatory arguments from optional
       arguments.  It is redundant before "@" or "%", which gob­
       ble up everything else.

       Note how the last three examples in the table above are
       treated specially by the parser.  "mygrep()" is parsed as
       a true list operator, "myrand()" is parsed as a true unary
       operator with unary precedence the same as "rand()", and
       "mytime()" is truly without arguments, just like "time()".
       That is, if you say

           mytime +2;

       you'll get "mytime() + 2", not mytime(2), which is how it
       would be parsed without a prototype.

       The interesting thing about "&" is that you can generate
       new syntax with it, provided it's in the initial position:

           sub try (&@) {
               my($try,$catch) = @_;
               eval { &$try };
               if ($@) {
                   local $_ = $@;
           sub catch (&) { $_[0] }

           try {
               die "phooey";
           } catch {
               /phooey/ and print "unphooey\n";

       That prints "unphooey".  (Yes, there are still unresolved
       issues having to do with visibility of @_.  I'm ignoring
       that question for the moment.  (But note that if we make
       @_ lexically scoped, those anonymous subroutines can act
       like closures... (Gee, is this sounding a little Lispish?
       (Never mind.))))

       And here's a reimplementation of the Perl "grep" operator:

           sub mygrep (&@) {

       understandable to Perl programmers, and that it will not
       intrude greatly upon the meat of the module, nor make it
       harder to read.  The line noise is visually encapsulated
       into a small pill that's easy to swallow.

       If you try to use an alphanumeric sequence in a prototype
       you will generate an optional warning - "Illegal character
       in prototype...".  Unfortunately earlier versions of Perl
       allowed the prototype to be used as long as its prefix was
       a valid prototype.  The warning may be upgraded to a fatal
       error in a future version of Perl once the majority of
       offending code is fixed.

       It's probably best to prototype new functions, not
       retrofit prototyping into older ones.  That's because you
       must be especially careful about silent impositions of
       differing list versus scalar contexts.  For example, if
       you decide that a function should take just one parameter,
       like this:

           sub func ($) {
               my $n = shift;
               print "you gave me $n\n";

       and someone has been calling it with an array or expres­
       sion returning a list:

           func( split /:/ );

       Then you've just supplied an automatic "scalar" in front
       of their argument, which can be more than a bit surpris­
       ing.  The old @foo which used to hold one thing doesn't
       get passed in.  Instead, "func()" now gets passed in a 1;
       that is, the number of elements in @foo.  And the "split"
       gets called in scalar context so it starts scribbling on
       your @_ parameter list.  Ouch!

       This is all very powerful, of course, and should be used
       only in moderation to make the world a better place.

       Constant Functions

       Functions with a prototype of "()" are potential candi­
       dates for inlining.  If the result after optimization and
       constant folding is either a constant or a lexically-
       scoped scalar which has no other references, then it will
       be used in place of function calls made without "&".
       Calls made using "&" are never inlined.  (See constant.pm
       for an easy way to declare most constants.)

               if (OPT_BAZ) {
                   return 23;
               else {
                   return 42;

           sub N () { int(BAZ_VAL) / 3 }
           BEGIN {
               my $prod = 1;
               for (1..N) { $prod *= $_ }
               sub N_FACTORIAL () { $prod }

       If you redefine a subroutine that was eligible for inlin­
       ing, you'll get a mandatory warning.  (You can use this
       warning to tell whether or not a particular subroutine is
       considered constant.)  The warning is considered severe
       enough not to be optional because previously compiled
       invocations of the function will still be using the old
       value of the function.  If you need to be able to redefine
       the subroutine, you need to ensure that it isn't inlined,
       either by dropping the "()" prototype (which changes call­
       ing semantics, so beware) or by thwarting the inlining
       mechanism in some other way, such as

           sub not_inlined () {
               23 if $];

       Overriding Built-in Functions

       Many built-in functions may be overridden, though this
       should be tried only occasionally and for good reason.
       Typically this might be done by a package attempting to
       emulate missing built-in functionality on a non-Unix sys­

       Overriding may be done only by importing the name from a
       module at compile time--ordinary predeclaration isn't good
       enough.  However, the "use subs" pragma lets you, in
       effect, predeclare subs via the import syntax, and these
       names may then override built-in ones:

           use subs 'chdir', 'chroot', 'chmod', 'chown';
           chdir $somewhere;
           sub chdir { ... }

       To unambiguously refer to the built-in form, precede the
       built-in name with the special package qualifier "CORE::".
       For example, saying "CORE::open()" always refers to the
           use Module 'open';

       and it would import the "open" override.  But if they said

           use Module;

       they would get the default imports without overrides.

       The foregoing mechanism for overriding built-in is
       restricted, quite deliberately, to the package that
       requests the import.  There is a second method that is
       sometimes applicable when you wish to override a built-in
       everywhere, without regard to namespace boundaries.  This
       is achieved by importing a sub into the special namespace
       "CORE::GLOBAL::".  Here is an example that quite brazenly
       replaces the "glob" operator with something that under­
       stands regular expressions.

           package REGlob;
           require Exporter;
           @ISA = 'Exporter';
           @EXPORT_OK = 'glob';

           sub import {
               my $pkg = shift;
               return unless @_;
               my $sym = shift;
               my $where = ($sym =~ s/^GLOBAL_// ? 'CORE::GLOBAL' : caller(0));
               $pkg->export($where, $sym, @_);

           sub glob {
               my $pat = shift;
               my @got;
               local *D;
               if (opendir D, '.') {
                   @got = grep /$pat/, readdir D;
                   closedir D;
               return @got;

       And here's how it could be (ab)used:

           #use REGlob 'GLOBAL_glob';      # override glob() in ALL namespaces
           package Foo;
           use REGlob 'glob';              # override glob() in Foo:: only
           print for <^[a-z_]+\.pm\$>;     # show all pragmatic modules

       The initial comment shows a contrived, even dangerous
       example.  By overriding "glob" globally, you would be
       mentation of "File::DosGlob" in the standard library.

       When you override a built-in, your replacement should be
       consistent (if possible) with the built-in native syntax.
       You can achieve this by using a suitable prototype.  To
       get the prototype of an overridable built-in, use the
       "prototype" function with an argument of
       "CORE::builtin_name" (see "prototype" in perlfunc).

       Note however that some built-ins can't have their syntax
       expressed by a prototype (such as "system" or "chomp").
       If you override them you won't be able to fully mimic
       their original syntax.

       The built-ins "do", "require" and "glob" can also be over­
       ridden, but due to special magic, their original syntax is
       preserved, and you don't have to define a prototype for
       their replacements.  (You can't override the "do BLOCK"
       syntax, though).

       "require" has special additional dark magic: if you invoke
       your "require" replacement as "require Foo::Bar", it will
       actually receive the argument "Foo/Bar.pm" in @_.  See
       "require" in perlfunc.

       And, as you'll have noticed from the previous example, if
       you override "glob", the "<*>" glob operator is overridden
       as well.

       In a similar fashion, overriding the "readline" function
       also overrides the equivalent I/O operator "<FILEHANDLE>".

       Finally, some built-ins (e.g. "exists" or "grep") can't be


       If you call a subroutine that is undefined, you would
       ordinarily get an immediate, fatal error complaining that
       the subroutine doesn't exist.  (Likewise for subroutines
       being used as methods, when the method doesn't exist in
       any base class of the class's package.)  However, if an
       "AUTOLOAD" subroutine is defined in the package or pack­
       ages used to locate the original subroutine, then that
       "AUTOLOAD" subroutine is called with the arguments that
       would have been passed to the original subroutine.  The
       fully qualified name of the original subroutine magically
       appears in the global $AUTOLOAD variable of the same pack­
       age as the "AUTOLOAD" routine.  The name is not passed as
       an ordinary argument because, er, well, just because,
       that's why...

               system($program, @_);
           who('am', 'i');

       In fact, if you predeclare functions you want to call that
       way, you don't even need parentheses:

           use subs qw(date who ls);
           who "am", "i";
           ls -l;

       A more complete example of this is the standard Shell mod­
       ule, which can treat undefined subroutine calls as calls
       to external programs.

       Mechanisms are available to help modules writers split
       their modules into autoloadable files.  See the standard
       AutoLoader module described in AutoLoader and in
       AutoSplit, the standard SelfLoader modules in SelfLoader,
       and the document on adding C functions to Perl code in

       Subroutine Attributes

       A subroutine declaration or definition may have a list of
       attributes associated with it.  If such an attribute list
       is present, it is broken up at space or colon boundaries
       and treated as though a "use attributes" had been seen.
       See attributes for details about what attributes are cur­
       rently supported.  Unlike the limitation with the obsoles­
       cent "use attrs", the "sub : ATTRLIST" syntax works to
       associate the attributes with a pre-declaration, and not
       just with a subroutine definition.

       The attributes must be valid as simple identifier names
       (without any punctuation other than the '_' character).
       They may have a parameter list appended, which is only
       checked for whether its parentheses ('(',')') nest prop­

       Examples of valid syntax (even though the attributes are

           sub fnord (&\%) : switch(10,foo(7,3))  :  expensive ;
           sub plugh () : Ugly('\(") :Bad ;
           sub xyzzy : _5x5 { ... }

       Examples of invalid syntax:

       For further details on attribute lists and their manipula­
       tion, see attributes and Attribute::Handlers.


       See "Function Templates" in perlref for more about refer­
       ences and closures.  See perlxs if you'd like to learn
       about calling C subroutines from Perl.  See perlembed if
       you'd like to learn about calling Perl subroutines from C.
       See perlmod to learn about bundling up your functions in
       separate files.  See perlmodlib to learn what library mod­
       ules come standard on your system.  See perltoot to learn
       how to make object method calls.

perl v5.8.1                 2003-09-02                 PERLSUB(1)
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