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The Ruby Programming Language

Cover of The Ruby Programming Language by Yukihiro Matsumoto... Published by O'Reilly Media, Inc.
  1. The Ruby Programming Language
    1. SPECIAL OFFER: Upgrade this ebook with O’Reilly
    2. A Note Regarding Supplemental Files
    3. Preface
      1. Acknowledgments
      2. Conventions Used in This Book
      3. Using Code Examples
      4. How to Contact Us
      5. Safari® Enabled
    4. 1. Introduction
      1. A Tour of Ruby
      2. Try Ruby
      3. About This Book
      4. A Sudoku Solver in Ruby
    5. 2. The Structure and Execution of Ruby Programs
      1. Lexical Structure
      2. Syntactic Structure
      3. File Structure
      4. Program Encoding
      5. Program Execution
    6. 3. Datatypes and Objects
      1. Numbers
      2. Text
      3. Arrays
      4. Hashes
      5. Ranges
      6. Symbols
      7. True, False, and Nil
      8. Objects
    7. 4. Expressions and Operators
      1. Literals and Keyword Literals
      2. Variable References
      3. Constant References
      4. Method Invocations
      5. Assignments
      6. Operators
    8. 5. Statements and Control Structures
      1. Conditionals
      2. Loops
      3. Iterators and Enumerable Objects
      4. Blocks
      5. Altering Control Flow
      6. Exceptions and Exception Handling
      7. BEGIN and END
      8. Threads, Fibers, and Continuations
    9. 6. Methods, Procs, Lambdas, and Closures
      1. Defining Simple Methods
      2. Method Names
      3. Methods and Parentheses
      4. Method Arguments
      5. Procs and Lambdas
      6. Closures
      7. Method Objects
      8. Functional Programming
    10. 7. Classes and Modules
      1. Defining a Simple Class
      2. Method Visibility: Public, Protected, Private
      3. Subclassing and Inheritance
      4. Object Creation and Initialization
      5. Modules
      6. Loading and Requiring Modules
      7. Singleton Methods and the Eigenclass
      8. Method Lookup
      9. Constant Lookup
    11. 8. Reflection and Metaprogramming
      1. Types, Classes, and Modules
      2. Evaluating Strings and Blocks
      3. Variables and Constants
      4. Methods
      5. Hooks
      6. Tracing
      7. ObjectSpace and GC
      8. Custom Control Structures
      9. Missing Methods and Missing Constants
      10. Dynamically Creating Methods
      11. Alias Chaining
      12. Domain-Specific Languages
    12. 9. The Ruby Platform
      1. Strings
      2. Regular Expressions
      3. Numbers and Math
      4. Dates and Times
      5. Collections
      6. Files and Directories
      7. Input/Output
      8. Networking
      9. Threads and Concurrency
    13. 10. The Ruby Environment
      1. Invoking the Ruby Interpreter
      2. The Top-Level Environment
      3. Practical Extraction and Reporting Shortcuts
      4. Calling the OS
      5. Security
    14. Index
    15. About the Authors
    16. Colophon
    17. SPECIAL OFFER: Upgrade this ebook with O’Reilly

Chapter 2. The Structure and Execution of Ruby Programs

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This chapter explains the structure of Ruby programs. It starts with the lexical structure, covering tokens and the characters that comprise them. Next, it covers the syntactic structure of a Ruby program, explaining how expressions, control structures, methods, classes, and so on are written as a series of tokens. Finally, the chapter describes files of Ruby code, explaining how Ruby programs can be split across multiple files and how the Ruby interpreter executes a file of Ruby code.

Lexical Structure

The Ruby interpreter parses a program as a sequence of tokens. Tokens include comments, literals, punctuation, identifiers, and keywords. This section introduces these types of tokens and also includes important information about the characters that comprise the tokens and the whitespace that separates the tokens.


Comments in Ruby begin with a # character and continue to the end of the line. The Ruby interpreter ignores the # character and any text that follows it (but does not ignore the newline character, which is meaningful whitespace and may serve as a statement terminator). If a # character appears within a string or regular expression literal (see Chapter 3), then it is simply part of the string or regular expression and does not introduce a comment:

# This entire line is a comment x = "#This is a string" # And this ...

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