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Summary: In this reading, we consider yet another basic data type: Strings. A string is a sequence of characters. Unlike symbols, which are atomic, strings can be separated into constituent parts.
Procedures covered in this reading
As we've just learned in the
reading on characters, characters provide the basic building blocks
of the things we might call
texts. What do we do with characters?
We combine them into strings.
A string is a sequence of zero or more characters. Most strings can be
named by enclosing the characters they contain between plain double
quotation marks, to produce a string literal. For instance,
"hyperbola" is the nine-character string consisting of the
#\a, in that order. Similarly,
"" is the zero-character string (the null string).
String literals may contain spaces and newline characters; when such
characters are between double quotation marks, they are treated like any
other characters in the string. There is a slight problem when one wants
to put a double quotation mark into a string literal: To indicate that the
double quotation mark is part of the string (rather than marking the end of
the string), one must place a backslash character immediately in front of
it. For instance,
"Say \"hi\"" is the eight-character
string consisting of the characters
#\", in that order. The backslash
before a double quotation mark in a string literal is an escape
character, present only to indicate that the character immediately
following it is part of the string.
This use of the backslash character causes yet another slight problem:
What if one wants to put a backslash into a string? The solution is similar:
Place another backslash character immediately in front of it. For instance,
"a\\b" is the three-character string consisting of the
that order. The first backslash in the string literal is an escape, and
the second is the character that it protects, the one that is part of the
Scheme provides several basic procedures for working with strings:
predicate determines whether its argument is or is not a string.
(make-string count char) procedure
constructs and returns a string that consists of count
repetitions of a single character. Its first argument indicates how long
the string should be, and the second argument specifies which character
it should be made of. For instance, the following code constructs and
returns the string
> (make-string 5 #\a) "aaaaa"
(string ch1 ... chn) procedure takes any number of characters as
arguments and constructs and returns a string consisting of exactly those
characters. For instance,
(string #\H #\i #\!) constructs and
returns the string
"Hi!". This procedure can be useful
for building strings with quotes. For example,
(string #\" #\")
"\"\"". (Isn't that ugly?)
string->list procedure converts a string into a list
of characters. The
list->string procedure converts a
list of characters into a string. It is invalid to call
list->string on a non-list or on a list that contains
values other than characters.
> (string->list "Hello") (#\H #\e #\l #\l #\o) > (list->string (list #\a #\b #\c)) "abc" > (list->string (list 'a 'b)) list->string: expects argument of type <list of character>; given (a b)
string-length procedure takes any string as argument and
returns the number of characters in that string. For instance, the value
(string-length "parabola") is 8 and the value of
(string-length "a\\b") is 3.
string-ref procedure is used to select the character at a
specified position within a string. Like
string-ref presupposes zero-based indexing; the
position is specified by the number of characters that precede it in the
string. (So the initial character in the string is at position 0, the next
at position 1, and so on.) For instance, the value of
"ellipse" 4) is
#\p -- the character that follows four
other characters and so is at position 4 in zero-based indexing.
Strings can be compared for
lexicographic order, the extension of
alphabetical order that is derived from the collating sequence of the local
character set. Once more, Scheme provides both case-sensitive and
case-insensitive versions of these predicates:
string>? are the case-sensitive versions, and
string-ci>? the case-insensitive ones.
(substring str start end)
procedure takes three arguments. The first is a string and the second and
third are non-negative integers not exceeding the length of that string.
Substring returns the part of its first argument that
starts after the number of characters specified by the second argument
and ends after the number of characters specified by the third argument.
(substring "hypocycloid" 3 8) returns the
"ocycl" -- the substring that starts after
"hyp" and ends after the eighth character,
l. (If you think of the characters in a string as
being numbered starting at 0,
substring takes the characters
from start to end-1.)
string-append procedure takes any number of strings as
arguments and returns a string formed by concatenating those arguments.
For instance, the value of
(string-append "al" "fal" "fa") is
number->string procedure takes any Scheme number as
its argument and returns a string that denotes the number.
> (number->string 23) "23" > (number->string 6/5) 6/5" > (number->string #i6/5) "1.2" > (number->string (sqrt -1)) "0+1i"
string->number procedure provides the inverse
operation. Given a string that represents a number, it returns the
corresponding number. Fascinatingly, unlike other procedures that give up
if you give them inappropriate input, when
is called with a string that does not represent a number, it returns
#f (which represents
> (string->number "23") 23 > (string->number "6/5") 1 1/5 > (string->number "3+4i") 3+4i > (string->number "") #f > (string->number "two") #f > (string->number "3 + 4i") #f
8 October 1997 [John Stone or Henry Walker]
2 October 2000 [Sam Rebelsky]
4 February 2001 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]
7 February 2001 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]
Monday, 26 February 2001 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]
Sunday, 15 September 2002 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]
Monday, 16 September 2002 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]
Tuesday, 4 February 2003 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]
Sunday, 3 September 2006 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]
string->number. (Some of the text for that documentation comes from John Stone's version of the Strings reading, available at
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