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I like this idea, but I do use table.setn when clearing the contents of a
table. It is also useful when creating arrays that will be unpacked but
which might include nils.


on 11/4/04 7:08 AM, Roberto Ierusalimschy at wrote:

> table.insert is too slow and we all agree that is would be good a
> standard way to do that operation (insertion at the "end" of an array).
> I have a proposal for a new operator (after all these years): "*t" would
> return the "size" of table t. With that operator, the insertion of a new
> element in an array would be written as <<t[*t+1] = v>>. To remove the
> last element, we would write <<t[*t] = nil>>.
> That operator would deprecate table.getn and table.setn. getn(t) would
> become *t; setn(t) would vanish. (Those operations have become quite
> complex; they are slow and difficult to understand.)
> The definition of *t is also a little tricky, but simpler than the
> current getn. To allow an efficient implementation, *t cannot return
> the largest integer index in the table. (That would demand a linear
> search.) Instead, it returns an index i such that t[i] is not nil and
> t[i+1] is nil. For arrays without holes, this is the largest index.
> For arrays with holes, this is a "possible" end. (This value is what
> getn returns in Lua 5.1w when there is no setn.)  With that definition,
> we can implement *t with a binary search right into the array part
> of the table. This is quite efficient. Even for very large tables
> (10Mega elements) an insertion <<t[*t+1] = v>> is *much* faster than
> table.insert.
> -- Roberto