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6.1 Sequences

This section describes functions that accept any kind of sequence.

Function: sequencep object

This function returns t if object is a list, vector, string, bool-vector, or char-table, nil otherwise.

Function: length sequence

This function returns the number of elements in sequence. If sequence is a dotted list, a wrong-type-argument error is signaled. Circular lists may cause an infinite loop. For a char-table, the value returned is always one more than the maximum Emacs character code.

See Definition of safe-length, for the related function safe-length.

(length '(1 2 3))
    ⇒ 3
(length ())
    ⇒ 0
(length "foobar")
    ⇒ 6
(length [1 2 3])
    ⇒ 3
(length (make-bool-vector 5 nil))
    ⇒ 5

See also string-bytes, in Text Representations.

If you need to compute the width of a string on display, you should use string-width (see Size of Displayed Text), not length, since length only counts the number of characters, but does not account for the display width of each character.

Function: elt sequence index

This function returns the element of sequence indexed by index. Legitimate values of index are integers ranging from 0 up to one less than the length of sequence. If sequence is a list, out-of-range values behave as for nth. See Definition of nth. Otherwise, out-of-range values trigger an args-out-of-range error.

(elt [1 2 3 4] 2)
     ⇒ 3
(elt '(1 2 3 4) 2)
     ⇒ 3
;; We use string to show clearly which character elt returns.
(string (elt "1234" 2))
     ⇒ "3"
(elt [1 2 3 4] 4)
     error→ Args out of range: [1 2 3 4], 4
(elt [1 2 3 4] -1)
     error→ Args out of range: [1 2 3 4], -1

This function generalizes aref (see Array Functions) and nth (see Definition of nth).

Function: copy-sequence sequence

This function returns a copy of sequence. The copy is the same type of object as the original sequence, and it has the same elements in the same order.

Storing a new element into the copy does not affect the original sequence, and vice versa. However, the elements of the new sequence are not copies; they are identical (eq) to the elements of the original. Therefore, changes made within these elements, as found via the copied sequence, are also visible in the original sequence.

If the sequence is a string with text properties, the property list in the copy is itself a copy, not shared with the original’s property list. However, the actual values of the properties are shared. See Text Properties.

This function does not work for dotted lists. Trying to copy a circular list may cause an infinite loop.

See also append in Building Lists, concat in Creating Strings, and vconcat in Vector Functions, for other ways to copy sequences.

(setq bar '(1 2))
     ⇒ (1 2)
(setq x (vector 'foo bar))
     ⇒ [foo (1 2)]
(setq y (copy-sequence x))
     ⇒ [foo (1 2)]
(eq x y)
     ⇒ nil
(equal x y)
     ⇒ t
(eq (elt x 1) (elt y 1))
     ⇒ t
;; Replacing an element of one sequence.
(aset x 0 'quux)
x ⇒ [quux (1 2)]
y ⇒ [foo (1 2)]
;; Modifying the inside of a shared element.
(setcar (aref x 1) 69)
x ⇒ [quux (69 2)]
y ⇒ [foo (69 2)]

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