Arrays

An array is a collection of elements of the same type. You can create and use array methods by using the ArrayTrait trait from the core library.

An important thing to note is that arrays have limited modification options. Arrays are, in fact, queues whose values can't be modified. This has to do with the fact that once a memory slot is written to, it cannot be overwritten, but only read from it. You can only append items to the end of an array and remove items from the front.

Creating an Array

Creating an array is done with the ArrayTrait::new() call. Here's an example of creating an array and appending 3 elements to it::

fn main() {
    let mut a = ArrayTrait::new();
    a.append(0);
    a.append(1);
    a.append(2);
}

When required, you can pass the expected type of items inside the array when instantiating the array like this, or explicitly define the type of the variable.

let mut arr = ArrayTrait::<u128>::new();
let mut arr:Array<u128> = ArrayTrait::new();

Updating an Array

Adding Elements

To add an element to the end of an array, you can use the append() method:

fn main() {
    let mut a = ArrayTrait::new();
    a.append(0);
    a.append(1);
    a.append(2);
}

Removing Elements

You can only remove elements from the front of an array by using the pop_front() method. This method returns an Option that can be unwrapped, containing the removed element, or Option::None if the array is empty.

fn main() {
    let mut a = ArrayTrait::new();
    a.append(10);
    a.append(1);
    a.append(2);

    let first_value = a.pop_front().unwrap();
    println!("The first value is {}", first_value);
}

The above code will print The first value is 10 as we remove the first element that was added.

In Cairo, memory is immutable, which means that it is not possible to modify the elements of an array once they've been added. You can only add elements to the end of an array and remove elements from the front of an array. These operations do not require memory mutation, as they involve updating pointers rather than directly modifying the memory cells.

Reading Elements from an Array

To access array elements, you can use get() or at() array methods that return different types. Using arr.at(index) is equivalent to using the subscripting operator arr[index].

get() Method

The get function returns an Option<Box<@T>>, which means it returns an option to a Box type (Cairo's smart-pointer type) containing a snapshot to the element at the specified index if that element exists in the array. If the element doesn't exist, get returns None. This method is useful when you expect to access indices that may not be within the array's bounds and want to handle such cases gracefully without panics. Snapshots will be explained in more detail in the "References and Snapshots" chapter.

Here is an example with the get() method:

fn main() -> u128 {
    let mut arr = ArrayTrait::<u128>::new();
    arr.append(100);
    let index_to_access =
        1; // Change this value to see different results, what would happen if the index doesn't exist?
    match arr.get(index_to_access) {
        Option::Some(x) => {
            *x
                .unbox() // Don't worry about * for now, if you are curious see Chapter 4.2 #desnap operator
        // It basically means "transform what get(idx) returned into a real value"
        },
        Option::None => { panic!("out of bounds") }
    }
}

at() Method

The at function, on the other hand, directly returns a snapshot to the element at the specified index using the unbox() operator to extract the value stored in a box. If the index is out of bounds, a panic error occurs. You should only use at when you want the program to panic if the provided index is out of the array's bounds, which can prevent unexpected behavior.

Here is an example with the at() method:

fn main() {
    let mut a = ArrayTrait::new();
    a.append(0);
    a.append(1);

    let first = *a.at(0);
    let second = *a.at(1);
}

In this example, the variable named first will get the value 0 because that is the value at index 0 in the array. The variable named second will get the value 1 from index 1 in the array.

If you want to use the subscripting operator arr[index], you will need to explicitly define the type of the elements of the array, otherwise it will not compile. For example:

fn main() {
    let mut a: Array<felt252> = ArrayTrait::new();
    a.append(0);
    a.append(1);

    let first = a[0];
    let second = a[1];
}

In summary, use at when you want to panic on out-of-bounds access attempts, and use get when you prefer to handle such cases gracefully without panicking.

To determine the number of elements in an array, use the len() method. The return value is of type usize.

If you want to check if an array is empty or not, you can use the is_empty() method, which returns true if the array is empty and false otherwise.

array! Macro

Sometimes, we need to create arrays with values that are already known at compile time. The basic way of doing that is redundant. You would first declare the array and then append each value one by one. array! is a simpler way of doing this task by combining the two steps. At compile-time, the compiler will expand the macro to generate the code that appends the items sequentially.

Without array!:

#![allow(unused)]
fn main() {
    let mut arr = ArrayTrait::new();
    arr.append(1);
    arr.append(2);
    arr.append(3);
    arr.append(4);
    arr.append(5);
}

With array!:

#![allow(unused)]
fn main() {
    let arr = array![1, 2, 3, 4, 5];
}

Storing Multiple Types with Enums

If you want to store elements of different types in an array, you can use an Enum to define a custom data type that can hold multiple types. Enums will be explained in more detail in the "Enums and Pattern Matching" chapter.

#[derive(Copy, Drop)]
enum Data {
    Integer: u128,
    Felt: felt252,
    Tuple: (u32, u32),
}

fn main() {
    let mut messages: Array<Data> = array![];
    messages.append(Data::Integer(100));
    messages.append(Data::Felt('hello world'));
    messages.append(Data::Tuple((10, 30)));
}

Span

Span is a struct that represents a snapshot of an Array. It is designed to provide safe and controlled access to the elements of an array without modifying the original array. Span is particularly useful for ensuring data integrity and avoiding borrowing issues when passing arrays between functions or when performing read-only operations, as introduced in "References and Snapshots".

All methods provided by Array can also be used with Span, except for the append() method.

Turning an Array into Span

To create a Span of an Array, call the span() method:

fn main() {
    let mut array: Array<u8> = ArrayTrait::new();
    array.span();
}