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GNU Emacs Lisp Reference Manual

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6.1 Sequences

In Emacs Lisp, a sequence is either a list or an array. The common property of all sequences is that they are ordered collections of elements. This section describes functions that accept any kind of sequence.

Function: sequencep object
Returns t if object is a list, vector, or string, nil otherwise.

Function: length sequence
This function returns the number of elements in sequence. If sequence is a cons cell that is not a list (because the final CDR is not nil), a wrong-type-argument error is signaled.

See section 5.4 Accessing Elements of Lists, 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

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, then out-of-range values of index return nil; otherwise, they 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 section 6.3 Functions that Operate on Arrays) and nth (see section 5.4 Accessing Elements of Lists).

Function: copy-sequence sequence
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 section 32.19 Text Properties.

See also append in 5.5 Building Cons Cells and Lists, concat in 4.3 Creating Strings, and vconcat in 6.4 Vectors, 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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