pointers to variables ?

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Another newbie question: are there pointers to variables, or is there any way to simulate them ?

For example, in gawk there are no pointers per se, but you can simulate them using the SYMTAB array:

my_list[1] = "test" 
var = "my_list"  
print SYMTAB[var][1] 
This last line is equivalent to
print my_list[1] 

In my gawk app I make extensive use of this ability as I need to manipulate lists whose name I only know at runtime, and I don't know that I'll be able to do this without pointers or something similar that enables me to access the symbol table.

For example, I read an input file that could contain the following lines defining three arrays, one read from a file and two defined inline:

datafile countries countries.list 
datalist departments 
datalist employees 
joe smith 
andy bloggs 
dave simpson 
ian jones 
wendy carter 
jane allenby 

Later on in the same input file I may see a line saying

listitem employees 
and I have to be able to access the corresponding array to retrieve a random element.

At the moment I'm thinking that I may be able to use a map of lists as a workaround, but I haven't really gone into my existing gawk code to think it through, and if pointers do exist it would make things much more straightforward.

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