While loop

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While loop flow diagram

In most computer programming languages, a while loop is a control flow statement that allows code to be executed repeatedly based on a given Boolean condition. The while loop can be thought of as a repeating if statement.

Overview[edit]

The while construct consists of a block of code and a condition/expression.[1] The condition/expression is evaluated, and if the condition/expression is true,[1] the code within all of their following in the block is executed. This repeats until the condition/expression becomes false. Because the while loop checks the condition/expression before the block is executed, the control structure is often also known as a pre-test loop. Compare this with the do while loop, which tests the condition/expression after the loop has executed.

For example, in the C programming language (as well as Java, C#,[2] Objective-C, and C++, which use the same syntax in this case), the code fragment

int x = 0;

while (x < 5) {
    printf ("x = %d\n", x);
    x++;
}

first checks whether x is less than 5, which it is, so then the {loop body} is entered, where the printf function is run and x is incremented by 1. After completing all the statements in the loop body, the condition, (x < 5), is checked again, and the loop is executed again, this process repeating until the variable x has the value 5.

Note that it is possible, and in some cases desirable, for the condition to always evaluate to true, creating an infinite loop. When such a loop is created intentionally, there is usually another control structure (such as a break statement) that controls termination of the loop. For example:

while (true) {
    // do complicated stuff
    if (someCondition)
        break;
    // more stuff
}

Demonstrating while loops[edit]

These while loops will calculate the factorial of the number 5:

ActionScript 3[edit]

var counter: int = 5;
var factorial: int = 1;

while (counter > 1) {
    factorial *= counter;
    counter--;
}

Printf("Factorial = %d", factorial);

Ada[edit]

with Ada.Integer_Text_IO;

procedure Factorial is
    Counter   : Integer := 5;
    Factorial : Integer := 1;
begin
    while Counter > 0 loop
        Factorial := Factorial * Counter;
        Counter   := Counter - 1;
    end loop;

    Ada.Integer_Text_IO.Put (Factorial);
end Factorial;

AutoHotkey[edit]

counter := 5
factorial := 1

While counter > 0
    factorial *= counter--    

MsgBox % factorial

Microsoft Small Basic[edit]

counter = 5    ' Counter = 5
factorial = 1  ' initial value of variable "factorial"

While counter > 0
    factorial = factorial * counter
    counter = counter - 1
    TextWindow.WriteLine(counter)
EndWhile

Visual Basic[edit]

Dim counter As Integer = 5    ' init variable and set value
Dim factorial As Integer = 1  ' initialize factorial variable

Do While counter > 0
    factorial = factorial * counter
    counter = counter - 1
Loop     ' program goes here, until counter = 0

'Debug.Print factorial         ' Console.WriteLine(factorial) in Visual Basic .NET

Bourne (Unix) shell[edit]

counter=5
factorial=1
while [ $counter -gt 0 ]; do
    factorial=$((factorial * counter))
    counter=$((counter - 1))
done

echo $factorial

C or C++[edit]

int main() {
    int counter = 5;
    int factorial = 1;

    while (counter > 1)
        factorial *= counter--;

    printf("%d", factorial);
}

Script syntax[edit]

counter = 5;
factorial = 1;
 
while (counter > 1) {
    factorial *= counter--;
}

writeOutput(factorial);

Tag syntax[edit]

<cfset counter = 5>
<cfset factorial = 1>
<cfloop condition="counter GT 1">
    <cfset factorial *= counter-->
</cfloop>
<cfoutput>#factorial#</cfoutput>

Fortran[edit]

program FactorialProg
    integer :: counter = 5
    integer :: factorial = 1

    do while (counter > 0)
        factorial = factorial * counter
        counter = counter - 1
    end do

    print *, factorial
end program FactorialProg

Java, C#, D[edit]

The code for the loop is the same for Java, C# and D:

int counter = 5;
int factorial = 1;

while (counter > 1)
    factorial *= counter--;

JavaScript[edit]

let counter = 5;
let factorial = 1;

while (counter > 1)
    factorial *= counter--;

console.log(factorial);

Lua[edit]

counter = 5
factorial = 1

while counter > 0 do
  factorial = factorial * counter
  counter = counter - 1
end

print(factorial)

MATLAB & GNU Octave[edit]

counter = 5;
factorial = 1;

while (counter > 0)
    factorial = factorial * counter;      %Multiply
    counter = counter - 1;                %Decrement
end

factorial

Mathematica[edit]

Block[{counter=5,factorial=1},  (*localize counter and factorial*)
    While[counter>0,            (*While loop*)
        factorial*=counter;     (*Multiply*)
        counter--;              (*Decrement*)
    ];

    factorial
]

Oberon, Oberon-2 (programming language), Oberon-07, or Component Pascal[edit]

MODULE Factorial;
IMPORT Out;
VAR
    Counter, Factorial: INTEGER;
BEGIN
    Counter := 5;
    Factorial := 1;

    WHILE Counter > 0 DO
        Factorial := Factorial * Counter;
        DEC(Counter)
    END;
    
    Out.Int(Factorial,0)
END Factorial.

Maya Embedded Language[edit]

int $counter = 5;
int $factorial = 1;

int $multiplication;

while ($counter > 0) {
    $multiplication = $factorial * $counter;

    $counter -= 1;
    
    print("Counter is: " + $counter + ", multiplication is: " + $multiplication + "\n");
}

Pascal[edit]

program Factorial1;
var
    Counter, Factorial: integer;
begin
    Counter := 5;
    Factorial := 1;
    
    while Counter > 0 do
    begin
        Factorial := Factorial * Counter;
        Counter := Counter - 1
    end;

    WriteLn(Factorial)
end.

Perl[edit]

my $counter   = 5;
my $factorial = 1;

while ($counter > 0) {
    $factorial *= $counter--; # Multiply, then decrement
}

print $factorial;

While loops are frequently used for reading data line by line (as defined by the $/ line separator) from open filehandles:

open IN, "<test.txt";

while (<IN>) {
    print;
}

close IN;

PHP[edit]

$counter = 5;
$factorial = 1;

while ($counter > 0) {
    $factorial *= $counter; // Multiply first.
    $counter--; // then decrement.
}

print $factorial;

PL/I[edit]

declare counter   fixed initial(5);
declare factorial fixed initial(1);

do while(counter > 0)
    factorial = factorial * counter;
    counter = counter - 1;
end;

Python[edit]

counter = 5                           # Set the value to 5 
factorial = 1                         # Set the value to 1

while counter > 0:                    # While counter(5) is greater than 0  
    factorial *= counter              # Set new value of factorial to counter.
    counter -= 1                      # Set the counter to counter - 1.

print(factorial)                      # Print the value of factorial.

Non-terminating while loop:

while True:
    print("Help! I'm stuck in a loop!")

Racket[edit]

In Racket, as in other Scheme implementations, a named-let is a popular way to implement loops:

#lang racket
(define counter 5)
(define factorial 1)
(let loop ()
    (when (> counter 0)
        (set! factorial (* factorial counter))
        (set! counter (sub1 counter))
        (loop)))
(displayln factorial)

Using a macro system, implementing a while loop is a trivial exercise (commonly used to introduce macros):

#lang racket
(define-syntax-rule (while test body ...) ; implements a while loop
    (let loop () (when test body ... (loop))))
(define counter 5)
(define factorial 1)
(while (> counter 0)
    (set! factorial (* factorial counter))
    (set! counter (sub1 counter)))
(displayln factorial)

But note that an imperative programming style is often discouraged in Racket (as in Scheme).

Ruby[edit]

# Calculate the factorial of 5
i = 1
factorial = 1

while i <= 5
  factorial *= i
  i += 1
end

puts factorial

Rust[edit]

fn main() {
    let mut counter = 5;
    let mut factorial = 1;

    while counter > 1 {
        factorial *= counter;
        counter -= 1;
    }

    println!("{}", factorial);
}

Smalltalk[edit]

Contrary to other languages, in Smalltalk a while loop is not a language construct but defined in the class BlockClosure as a method with one parameter, the body as a closure, using self as the condition.

Smalltalk also has a corresponding whileFalse: method.

| count factorial |
count := 5.
factorial := 1.
[count > 0] whileTrue: 
    [factorial := factorial * count.
    count := count - 1].
Transcript show: factorial

Swift[edit]

var counter = 5                 // Set the initial counter value to 5 
var factorial = 1               // Set the initial factorial value to 1

while counter > 0 {             // While counter(5) is greater than 0  
    factorial *= counter        // Set new value of factorial to factorial x counter.
    counter -= 1                // Set the new value of counter to  counter - 1.
}

print(factorial)                // Print the value of factorial.

Tcl[edit]

set counter 5
set factorial 1

while {$counter > 0} {
    set factorial [expr $factorial * $counter] 
    incr counter -1 
}

puts $factorial

VEX[edit]

int counter = 5;
int factorial = 1;

while (counter > 1)
    factorial *= counter--;

printf("%d", factorial);

PowerShell[edit]

$counter = 5
$factorial = 1

while ($counter) {
    $factorial *= $counter--
}

$factorial

While programming language[edit]

The While programming language[3] is a simple programming language constructed from assignments, sequential composition, conditionals and while statements, used in the theoretical analysis of imperative programming language semantics.[4][5]

C := 5;
F := 1;

while (C > 1) do
    F := F * C;
    C := C - 1;

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The while and do-while Statements (The Java™ Tutorials > Learning the Java Language > Language Basics)". Dosc.oracle.com. Retrieved 2016-10-21.
  2. ^ "while (C# reference)". Msdn.microsoft.com. Retrieved 2016-10-21.
  3. ^ "Chapter 3 : The While programming language" (PDF). Profs.sci.univr.it. Retrieved 2016-10-21.
  4. ^ Flemming Nielson; Hanne R. Nielson; Chris Hankin (1999). Principles of Program Analysis. Springer. ISBN 978-3-540-65410-0. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
  5. ^ Illingworth, Valerie (11 December 1997). Dictionary of Computing. Oxford Paperback Reference (4th ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780192800466.