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Matts (1087)

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I work for MessageLabs [] in Toronto, ON, Canada. I write spam filters, MTA software, high performance network software, string matching algorithms, and other cool stuff mostly in Perl and C.

Journal of Matts (1087)

Wednesday May 31, 2006
05:01 PM

Finally some perl!

[ #29767 ]

Yes it's been yonks since I posted any perl. Well today I learned that read() can take an offset to where to put data in your $buf, so I can implement what should be an efficient grep for multiple strings in binary data (i.e. where I can't do: while (<$fh>) ). So given $fh and @strings and max() from List::Util, I can do this:

    my $max_len = max(map{length} @strings);
    my $regexp = "(" . join("|", map {quotemeta} @strings) . ")";
    my $buf = '';
    while (1) {
        substr($buf, 0, length($buf) - $max_len) = "";
        my $len = read($fh, $buf, 8096, length($buf));
        last unless $len;
        if ($buf =~ /$regexp/o) {
            return $1;

I could probably add code to show where in the file it matched, but I don't need that.

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  • I've found something more like the following to be useful:

                    my $max_len = max(8096,map{length} @strings);
                    my $regexp = "(" . join("|", map {quotemeta} @strings) . ")";
                    my @buf = ('');
                    while (1) {
                            my $len =
  • I hope you're using this code only as part of the mainline of a script and not as a subroutine or in a module. But even still, it's often the case that scripts turn into modules at some point, so don't use /o if you can help it. It doesn't really buy you anything and could actually cause problems as your program grows. If you think you need /o, you really just need qr//. When someone uses /o it is almost always a case of premature optimization (99.99999999999% of the time :-).
  • It’s easy to arrange:

    my $max_len = max map length, @strings;
    my $rx = qr/(@{[ join '|', map quotemeta, @strings ]})/;
    my $buf = '';
    while ( read $fh, $buf, 8096, length $buf ) {
        return $1 if $buf =~ $rx;
        substr $buf, 0, length $buf - $max_len, '';

    As a bonus the code is shorter and clearer.

    The following is a tweak to avoid unnecessarily shrinking $buf when the space is needed for the read that immediately follows, and it may or may not be faster by a few percent. I didn