Using data structures

Data structures in Clojure are used to model information and data, within a particular namespace. Functions are used to run behaviour over the data structures.

Lets look at some of the common functions that are used in Clojure with data structures

the below content is work in progress, sorry.

Managing Return values

If you run a function over a data structure, you may not always get back the type of value you want. It easy to wrap a function around to give you the desired value type.

Use the str function to get a string from person, rather than a set of characters

(first person)
(rest person)

(str (first person))

;; How do we return the rest of the string as a string ?
(str (rest person))
(map str (rest person))
(str (map str (rest person)))
(apply str (rest person))

You can get the value of this map

(def luke {:name "Luke Skywarker" :skill "Targeting Swamp Rats"})
(def darth {:name "Darth Vader"    :skill "Crank phone calls"})
(def jarjar {:name "JarJar Binks"   :skill "Upsetting a generation of fans"})

(get luke :skill)


When you use functions on data structures, although they can return a new value they do not change the original data structure.

Lets define a name for a data structure

(def name1 [1 2 3 4])

when we evaluate that name we get the original data we set


Now we use a function called conj to adds (conjoin) another number to our data structure

(conj name1 5)

This returns a new value without changing the original data structre


We cant change the original data structure, it is immutable. Once it is set it cant be changed. However, if we give a name to the resultl of changing the original data structure, we can refer to that new data structure

(def name2(conj name1 5))

Now name2 is the new data structure, but name1 remains unchanged


So we cannot change the data structure, however we can achieve something that looks like we have changed it. We can re-assign the original name to the result of changing the original data structure

(def name2(conj name1 5))

Now name1 and name2 are the same result


An analogy (thanks to Chris Ford)

You have the number 2. If you add 1 to 2, what value is the number 2? The number 2 is still 2 no mater that you add 1 to it, however, you get the value 3 in return

Creating new data structures

Use concat to add lists or vectors together

(concat [1 2] '(3 4)) ; => (1 2 3 4)

Use filter, map to interact with collections

(map inc [1 2 3]) ; => (2 3 4)
(filter even? [1 2 3]) ; => (2)

Use reduce to reduce them

(reduce + [1 2 3 4])
; = (+ (+ (+ 1 2) 3) 4)
; => 10

Reduce can take an initial-value argument too

(reduce conj [] '(3 2 1))
; = (conj (conj (conj [] 3) 2) 1)
; => [3 2 1]

Use cons to add an item to the beginning of a list or vector

(cons 4 [1 2 3]) ; => (4 1 2 3)
(cons 4 '(1 2 3)) ; => (4 1 2 3)

Use conj to add an item to the beginning of a list, or the end of a vector

(conj [1 2 3] 4) ; => [1 2 3 4]
(conj '(1 2 3) 4) ; => (4 1 2 3)

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