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Note also that in deeply nested hashes, exists will autovivify intermediate levels of the hash in the process of testing the existence of a low level element (update: but see this for further clarification).

c:\@Work\Perl\monks>perl -wMstrict -MData::Dump -le "my %hash; print 'yes' if exists $hash{'www'}{'xxx'}{'yyy'}{'zzz'}; dd \%hash; " { www => { xxx => { yyy => {} } } }
This effect is also avoided with  no autovivification; enabled.
c:\@Work\Perl\monks>perl -wMstrict -MData::Dump -le "no autovivification; ;; my %hash; print 'yes' if exists $hash{'www'}{'xxx'}{'yyy'}{'zzz'}; dd \%hash; " {}

Update 1: See also the recent discussion threads Sometimes undef is initialized and sometimes not when hash values are fed to grep and unexpected modify hash in a distance with grep { $_ } - both by the same monk!

Update 2: To illustrate the behavior noted by haukex here, consider:

c:\@Work\Perl\monks>perl -wMstrict -MData::Dump -le "my %h; ;; $h{'www'}{'xxx'}{'yyy'}{'zzz'}; dd 'access in void context', \%h; %h = (); dd 'assigning empty list really does clear hash', \%h; ;; my $x = $h{'www'}{'xxx'}{'yyy'}{'zzz'}; dd 'access in assignment (rvalue) context', \%h; %h = (); ;; 1 if $h{'www'}{'xxx'}{'yyy'}{'zzz'}; dd 'access in boolean context', \%h; %h = (); ;; 1 for $h{'www'}{'xxx'}{'yyy'}{'zzz'}; dd 'access in aliased (lvalue) context', \%h; " Useless use of hash element in void context at -e line 1. ("access in void context", { www => { xxx => { yyy => {} } } }) ("assigning empty list really does clear hash", {}) ( "access in assignment (rvalue) context", { www => { xxx => { yyy => {} } } }, ) ( "access in boolean context", { www => { xxx => { yyy => {} } } }, ) ( "access in aliased (lvalue) context", { www => { xxx => { yyy => { zzz => undef } } } }, )
In every case except the for-loop (i.e., rvalue accesses), intermediate elements are created but not the lowest-level 'zzz' element. In the for-loop case in which aliasing creates an lvalue access context, the 'zzz' element is created.

Give a man a fish:  <%-{-{-{-<

In reply to Re: "print" of nonexistent element is actually altering a hash (updated) by AnomalousMonk
in thread "print" of nonexistent element is actually altering a hash by larrymenard

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