historical introduction

These pages are intended to be an introduction to the nature and use of tables in Lua, for the curious and those new to the language. Those who are not new to the language are invited to correct my errors and suggest improvements.

I find that to understand a topic it is often useful to delve a little into the origins of words. Please be patient. In ancient Greek the word τράπεζα has two main meanings: a table for putting food on, and a table used by a money-changer. Our word bank originally meant no more than bench. In ancient times a business deal, say the deposit of money with a banker, would be identified by matching tokens - created by breaking a stick or a fragment of pottery: the matching of the break on the two pieces would authenticate the client. Lua tables may be understood in the latter sense. An item in a Lua table consists of two things - a key (the authenticating token) and a value (the goods deposited). Perhaps the word bank should join array, dictionary and library as synonyms for table?