CJam is a GolfScript-inspired stack-based golfing language, created by PPCG user aditsu.

So, in the vein of other language-specific tips questions:

What general tips do you have for golfing in CJam? Please post one tip per answer.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ See also Tips for golfing in GolfScript; the languages are similar enough that many of the tricks can be adapted either way. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 12 '14 at 12:38
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @IlmariKaronen After going through the answers in that question, I'd say only around half of them apply to CJam, due to syntactical or logical differences in the languages. \$\endgroup\$
    – Optimizer
    Oct 12 '14 at 13:16

34 Answers 34


Modify an element instead of deleting it

If you need the sum of a list except for the last element, increased by T, instead of:


You can use:


Or if you just need the sum of a list except for element K, which isn't the first or last element, you can use:


Except for the case there are only 3 elements and K=1, where this is shorter:


Understand How Array Literals Work

The [ and ] characters in CJam are not part of any special syntax; they are operators.

What [ does is puts a "flag" on the stack. Attempting to pop from the stack will pop from below it, but pushing to the stack will push above it.

This means that this:

1 2 [+]

Will result in the stack looking like this:


This can be used for golfing. For example, if I wanted to duplicate the final element in an array (i.e. turn ["foo" "bar" "baz"] into ["foo" "bar" "baz" "baz"]), I could do this:


But I can shorten this by 1 byte:


If I wanted to put the top two stack elements into an array, I'd do:


But again, I can shorten this:


If I was doing some computation earlier that pushed the two values onto the stack, I could wrap part of it in []. This means I don't need the \\, which saves even more bytes.

You can manipulate this in even crazier ways. For example, you can accumulate an array ([1 2 3] -> [1 3 6]) using:


(I still wish CJam had a builtin for that, though, as I find myself needing it oftentimes.)

In general, this technique allows us to treat stack elements as array elements and vice versa.


Check if array contains sub-array

Note: If you're only looking for a single element use jimmy's method.

If you want to see if an array contains a specific sub-array, use #). # is "index of" and ) increases it by 1. If the sub-array is not in the array # returns -1. When you increment it by 1, you get 0 which is falsey. If the sub-array is in the array # returns a number that is at least 0, which when incremented by 1 returns a truthy value.

& and e= don't work for sub-arrays.


Index into an array, use a default value or run code if not in range

This could be done using a single character: j.

For example, this code would output GolfScript, CJam, Pyth for 0, 1, 2, and Seriously for all other cases:

ri"GolfScript CJam Pyth"S/{;"Seriously"}j

Compared to:

ri3,#"GolfScript CJam Pyth Seriously"S/=

Actually used more characters. But it might be considerable if the type is not string or you have to run code in a block anyway.


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