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# Finding the First List Element That Passes a Test

## Problem

You want the first element in the list (or its index) that passes a test. Alternatively, you want to know whether any element passes the test. The test can be simple identity (“Is this element in the list?”)[7] or more complex (“I have a list of Employee objects, sorted from highest salary to lowest. Which manager has the highest salary?”). Simple cases normally only require the value of the element, but when the array itself will be altered, you probably need to know the index number of the first matching element.

## Solution

To find a matching value, use `foreach` to loop over every element, and call `last` as soon as you find a match:

```my(\$match, \$found, \$item);
foreach \$item (@array) {
if (\$criterion) {
\$match = \$item;  # must save
\$found = 1;
last;
}
}
if (\$found) {
## do something with \$match
} else {
## unfound
}```

To find a matching index, use `for` to loop a variable over every array index, and call `last` as soon as you find a match:

```my(\$i, \$match_idx);
for (\$i = 0; \$i < @array; \$i++) {
if (\$criterion) {
\$match_idx = \$i;    # save the index
last;
}
}

if (defined \$match_idx) {
## found in \$array[\$match_idx]
} else {
## unfound
}```

## Discussion

Not having a built-in mechanism to do this, we must write our own code to go through the list and test each element. We use `foreach` and `for` and call `last` to ensure that we stop as soon as we find a match. Before we use `last` to stop looking, though, we save the value or index.

A common mistake is to try to use `grep` here. The problem is that `grep` always tests all elements and finds all matches, so it’s inefficient if you only want the first match.

We have to set `\$match` when we want the value of the first matching element. We can’t just test `\$item` at the end of the loop, because `foreach` automatically `local`izes the iterator variable and this prevents us from getting to its last loop value after the loop ends. See Section 4.4.

Here’s an example. Assume that `@employees` has a list of Employee objects, sorted in descending order by salary. We wish to find out the highest paid engineer, who will be the first engineer in the array. We only want to print the engineer’s name, so we want the value, not the index.

```foreach \$employee (@employees) {
if ( \$employee->category() eq 'engineer' ) {
\$highest_engineer = \$employee;
last;
}
}
print "Highest paid engineer is: ", \$highest_engineer->name(), "\n";```

When we’re searching and only want the index, we can save some code by remembering that `\$i` will not be an acceptable array index if we don’t find a match. This mainly saves us code space, as not doing an assignment doesn’t really win us much compared to the time we’ll have spent testing the list elements. It’s more obscure, because it tests `if` `(\$i` `<` `@ARRAY)` to check whether we found a match, instead of the more obvious `defined` test as in the previous Solution.

```for (\$i = 0; \$i < @ARRAY; \$i++) {
last if \$criterion;
}
if (\$i < @ARRAY) {
## found and \$i is the index
} else {
The “For Loops,” “Foreach Loops,” and “Loop Control” sections of ```perlsyn ```(1) and Chapter 2 of Programming Perl ; the `grep` function in `perlfunc`(1) and Chapter 3 of Programming Perl