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Collections in other languages

From: Foundations of Programming: Fundamentals

Video: Collections in other languages

It's worth a quick detour to talk briefly about collections in other programming languages. Now I don't need to get super specific about each individual language, but there are a few general things you should be aware of. First off, JavaScript allows anything in any element of the array. Numbers, strings, Booleans, you can even have elements undefined. So it supports this mixed data idea, but many languages only allow specific kinds of data in an array. It is an array of strings or an array of integers. You can't have both in the same array and this is probably more common across languages.

Collections in other languages

It's worth a quick detour to talk briefly about collections in other programming languages. Now I don't need to get super specific about each individual language, but there are a few general things you should be aware of. First off, JavaScript allows anything in any element of the array. Numbers, strings, Booleans, you can even have elements undefined. So it supports this mixed data idea, but many languages only allow specific kinds of data in an array. It is an array of strings or an array of integers. You can't have both in the same array and this is probably more common across languages.

Similarly, JavaScript allows us to create an array with say for example three elements, but we can then add to it or even subtract from it. But other languages may want your arrays to be a fixed size. You have to know how big it is before you make it. If you make an array that's five elements long, you can't change it after it's been made. Now there are a couple of words you may run into with this idea, that of a mutable versus an immutable object. If something is a mutable it can mutate, it can change, where if something is immutable it cannot change after it's been created.

So in quite a lot of languages you're actually choose whether you want an immutable array or a mutable array. Now you might think, "Why an earth would I ever want an unchangeable array, why wouldn't I just want the flexibility of one that can change that I can add to, subtract to?" Well, think of a couple of examples. So you make an array containing all the days of the week or the months of the year, do you really need to add elements to that array? Do you actually want that array to support the idea of suddenly removing the second element mid-program? Probably not.

One of the benefits of immutable arrays is that they're usually faster, because the language can just allocate an area of memory for that array that it knows will never change, whereas with mutable or changeable object there is always a little bit of overhead for knowing that this array may grow or shrink. We've seen that an array is an ordered list of items. We start at position 0 and go up one by one, but there are other kinds of collections where we might want something different. Let say instead of the built-in index of 0, 1, 2, we might want a, b, c or even more likely to have the idea of a key, something that's more meaningful to us.

Let's see an example. Say we have a list of states. It might be very useful to have this collection, but using the abbreviation for these states. So instead of going up 0, 1, 2 we'll use AL, AK, AZ. Now this kind of an array can be created in many languages and it goes by quite a few different names. Generally, it's called an associative array, but some languages call this a dictionary or map or a table. There are even a few more names to it. For those of you who worked with databases you may think there is kind of a link between these.

This of course is not a database. It's nothing to do with a database. This is still a variable in memory, but it's a very useful one to allow us to go directly to each individual piece of data. So when you move into exploring any language you're going to find it's very common for you to consider what is that language's built-in support for different kinds of collections, what does it let you do and what does it make you do.

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Foundations of Programming: Fundamentals

61 video lessons · 85445 viewers

Simon Allardice
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  1. 4m 14s
    1. Welcome
      1m 16s
    2. Making the most of this course
      2m 8s
    3. Using the exercise files
      50s
  2. 22m 11s
    1. What is programming?
      5m 45s
    2. What is a programming language?
      4m 48s
    3. Writing source code
      5m 34s
    4. Compiled and interpreted languages
      6m 4s
  3. 16m 29s
    1. Why JavaScript?
      4m 45s
    2. Creating your first program in JavaScript
      6m 54s
    3. Requesting input
      4m 50s
  4. 31m 38s
    1. Introduction to variables and data types
      5m 16s
    2. Understanding strong, weak, and duck-typed languages
      3m 51s
    3. Working with numbers
      5m 4s
    4. Using characters and strings
      4m 5s
    5. Working with operators
      4m 47s
    6. Properly using white space
      6m 46s
    7. Adding comments to code for human understanding
      1m 49s
  5. 24m 49s
    1. Building with the if statement
      7m 35s
    2. Working with complex conditions
      4m 10s
    3. Setting comparison operators
      6m 59s
    4. Using the switch statement
      6m 5s
  6. 17m 56s
    1. Breaking your code apart
      4m 1s
    2. Creating and calling functions
      2m 57s
    3. Setting parameters and arguments
      6m 7s
    4. Understanding variable scope
      2m 23s
    5. Splitting code into different files
      2m 28s
  7. 13m 32s
    1. Introduction to iteration
      4m 28s
    2. Writing a while statement
      5m 24s
    3. Creating a for loop
      3m 40s
  8. 19m 28s
    1. Cleaning up with string concatenation
      4m 30s
    2. Finding patterns in strings
      8m 3s
    3. Introduction to regular expressions
      6m 55s
  9. 19m 59s
    1. Working with arrays
      5m 47s
    2. Array behavior
      5m 29s
    3. Iterating through collections
      5m 18s
    4. Collections in other languages
      3m 25s
  10. 10m 50s
    1. Programming style
      5m 55s
    2. Writing pseudocode
      4m 55s
  11. 25m 55s
    1. Input/output and persistence
      3m 6s
    2. Reading and writing from the DOM
      8m 11s
    3. Event driven programming
      7m 47s
    4. Introduction to file I/O
      6m 51s
  12. 24m 26s
    1. Introduction to debugging
      5m 57s
    2. Tracing through a section of code
      7m 5s
    3. Understanding error messages
      3m 21s
    4. Using debuggers
      8m 3s
  13. 14m 17s
    1. Introduction to object-oriented languages
      5m 18s
    2. Using classes and objects
      6m 29s
    3. Reviewing object-oriented languages
      2m 30s
  14. 11m 14s
    1. Memory management across languages
      5m 11s
    2. Introduction to algorithms
      4m 2s
    3. Introduction to multithreading
      2m 1s
  15. 29m 20s
    1. Introduction to languages
      1m 42s
    2. C-based languages
      4m 40s
    3. The Java world
      3m 13s
    4. .NET languages: C# and Visual Basic .NET
      6m 17s
    5. Ruby
      3m 4s
    6. Python
      2m 56s
    7. Objective-C
      4m 3s
    8. Libraries and frameworks
      3m 25s
  16. 1m 2s
    1. Where to go from here
      1m 2s

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