You are previewing The Ruby Programming Language.

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 5. Statements and Control Structures

image with no caption

Consider the following Ruby program. It adds two numbers passed to it on the command line and prints the sum:

x = ARGV[0].to_f  # Convert first argument to a number
y = ARGV[1].to_f  # Convert second argument to a number
sum = x + y       # Add the arguments
puts sum          # Print the sum

This is a simple program that consists primarily of variable assignment and method invocations. What makes it particularly simple is its purely sequential execution. The four lines of code are executed one after the other without branching or repetition. It is a rare program that can be this simple. This chapter introduces Ruby’s control structures, which alter the sequential execution, or flow-of-control, of a program. We cover:

  • Conditionals

  • Loops

  • Iterators and blocks

  • Flow-altering statements like return and break

  • Exceptions

  • The special-case BEGIN and END statements

  • The esoteric control structures known as fibers and continuations


The most common control structure, in any programming language, is the conditional. This is a way of telling the computer to conditionally execute some code: to execute it only if some condition is satisfied. The condition is an expression—if it evaluates to any value other than false or nil, then the condition is satisfied.

Ruby has a rich vocabulary for expressing conditionals. The syntax choices are described in the subsections that ...

The best content for your career. Discover unlimited learning on demand for around $1/day.