Summary: We consider mechanisms for interactive (and non-interactive) programs to get input in ways other than as simple parameters.
In the programs we've written so far this semester, we've assumed that all the data that a program needs can be either included in the source code, generated automatically within the program, or (at worst) supplied in the interactions window as an argument in a call to one of the program's procedures.
Unfortunately, this simplifying assumption doesn't always hold. In many
cases, we'd like our program to take over the job of interacting with
users, reading in values and displaying results. To support programs of
this kind, Scheme provides several primitive procedures that perform
interactive input or output as
side effects. You've already seen
the three primary output procedures,
There's one key input procedure,
read procedure takes no arguments and returns one value.
When it is invoked, it pauses and waits for the user to supply a
representation of a Scheme value -- a numeral, a string literal (enclosed
in double-quotation marks, as if in a Scheme program), a Boolean or
character literal, a symbol (which need not be preceded by a single
quotation mark), or a list (which again need not be quoted). The
read procedure returns the value represented.
Under DrScheme, the
read procedure's interaction with the user
takes place in an interaction box, visually separated from the rest
of the Interactions window. The user of the program types into this box a
text representation of the value that she wants to send to the program --
the number 25, say:
When the user presses the <Enter> key to end the line, DrScheme
releases the value that she has entered to the
which returns it.
Here's a small illustration of the use of the
square-root-computer procedure asks the user to supply a
number, computes the square root of the number that the user supplies, and
prints out the result, appropriately labelled, all within the interaction
;;; Procedure: ;;; square-root-computer ;;; Parameters: ;;; [None, the input is read interactively] ;;; Purpose: ;;; Reads in a number and displays its square. ;;; Produces: ;;; [Nothing] ;;; Preconditions: ;;; [None] ;;; Postconditions: ;;; The program user has been prompted for a number. ;;; The program user's reply has been read in. ;;; If the program user's reply is a number, its square ;;; root has been printed out, appropriately labelled. (define square-root-computer (lambda () (display "Give me a number, and I'll compute its square root.") (newline) (let ((proposed-number (begin (display "Number: ") (read)))) (begin (display "The square root of ") (display proposed-number) (display " is ") (display (sqrt proposed-number)) (display ".") (newline)))))
The following sample calls demonstrate the working of the
square-root-computer procedure. Notice that the value of
proposed-number is not supplied as an argument to
square-root-computer, but is read in as the program is being
executed. The green printing shows where the user typed it in.
> (square-root-computer) Give me a number, and I'll compute its square root. Number:
4225The square root of 4225 is 65.
If one wants the procedure to compute many square roots instead of just one, prompting the user each time for a new number, one can set up a recursion in which the completion of each exchange initiates another:
;;; Procedure: ;;; multi-square-root-computer ;;; Purpose: ;;; prompts the user for numbers and ;;; and outputs the square root of each one ;;; Parameters: ;;; [None] ;;; Produces: ;;; [Nothing; Called for its side effects] ;;; Preconditions: ;;; [None] ;;; Postconditions: ;;; The program user has been prompted at least once for a number. ;;; The program user's reply has been read in. ;;; If the program user's reply is a number, its square root has ;;; been printed out, appropriately labelled, and the prompt ;;; has been repeated. ;;; If the program user's reply is the symbol STOP, a ;;; cheerful salutation of farewell has been printed out ;;; and the prompt has not been repeated. (define multi-square-root-computer (lambda () (display "Give me one number at a time.") (newline) (display "I'll compute its square root and ask you for another number.") (newline) (display "Type STOP when you're done.") (newline) (let kernel ((proposed-number (begin (display "Number: ") (read)))) (cond ((eq? proposed-number 'stop) (begin (display "Goodbye!") (newline))) ((number? proposed-number) (begin (display "The square root of ") (display proposed-number) (display " is ") (display (sqrt proposed-number)) (display ".") (newline) (kernel (begin (display "Number: ") (read))))) (else (error 'multi-square-root-computer "The input must be a number."))))))
Let's walk through the body of this procedure definition. When
multi-square-root-computer is invoked, it begins by printing
out three lines of instructions, then enters the recursive kernel, reading
in the first user input as it enters and associating the parameter
proposed-number with it.
cond-expression first checks to see whether the user has
submitted the symbol
stop, which it interprets as a
sentinel -- a conventional signal of the end of the input,
indicating that the user is ready to leave the program. If the sentinel is
multi-square-root-computer prints out ``Goodbye!''
If the user's input is not
stop, however, the second
cond-clause is activated. If the user has submitted a number,
multi-square-root-computer figures its square root and
displays the result, embedded in a complete English sentence.
On the other hand, if the user's input is neither the symbol
stop nor a number, it is erroneous, and the procedure signals
that a precondition has failed by invoking the
to halt execution.
Tuesday, 5 November 2002 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]
Input and output under program control, version of 25 October 2001, available at
Monday, 3 March 2003 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]
I usually create these pages
on the fly, which means that I rarely
proofread them and they may contain bad grammar and incorrect details.
It also means that I tend to update them regularly (see the history for
more details). Feel free to contact me with any suggestions for changes.
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