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Programming in Scala > Chapter 15: Case Classes and Pattern Matching - Pg. 269

Chapter 15 Case Classes and Pattern Matching This chapter introduces case classes and pattern matching, twin constructs that support you when writing regular, non-encapsulated data structures. These two constructs are particularly helpful for tree-like recursive data. If you have programmed in a functional language before, then you will probably recognize pattern matching. Case classes will be new to you, though. Case classes are Scala's way to allow pattern matching on objects without requiring a large amount of boilerplate. In the common case, all you need to do is add a single case keyword to each class that you want to be pattern matchable. This chapter starts with a simple example of case classes and pattern matching. It then goes through all of the kinds of patterns that are supported, talks about the role of sealed classes, discusses the Option type, and shows some non-obvious places in the language where pattern matching is used. Finally, a larger, more realistic example of pattern matching is shown. 15.1 A simple example Before delving into all the rules and nuances of pattern matching, it is worth looking at a simple example to get the general idea. Let's say you need to write a library that manipulates arithmetic expressions, perhaps as part of a domain-specific language you are designing. A first step to tackle this problem is the definition of the input data. To keep things simple, we'll concentrate on arithmetic expressions consisting of variables, numbers, and unary and binary operations. This is expressed by the hierarchy of Scala classes shown in Listing 15.1. 269