Ruby – Need a simple explanation of the inject method


[1, 2, 3, 4].inject(0) { |result, element| result + element } # => 10

I'm looking at this code but my brain is not registering how the number 10 can become the result. Would someone mind explaining what's happening here?

Best Solution

You can think of the first block argument as an accumulator: the result of each run of the block is stored in the accumulator and then passed to the next execution of the block. In the case of the code shown above, you are defaulting the accumulator, result, to 0. Each run of the block adds the given number to the current total and then stores the result back into the accumulator. The next block call has this new value, adds to it, stores it again, and repeats.

At the end of the process, inject returns the accumulator, which in this case is the sum of all the values in the array, or 10.

Here's another simple example to create a hash from an array of objects, keyed by their string representation:

[1,"a",,:hi].inject({}) do |hash, item|
  hash[item.to_s] = item

In this case, we are defaulting our accumulator to an empty hash, then populating it each time the block executes. Notice we must return the hash as the last line of the block, because the result of the block will be stored back in the accumulator.