Any variable may be used as an array; the declare builtin will explicitly declare an array. With "declare -n" you can add a reference to another variable and you can do this over and over again. Execute the script. By asking for indexes not in the array you either create an array with indexes missing, ie 0,1,3,6,7,9 This would then mean you have "holes" at positions - 2,4,5,8 and nothing in any index after 9 However, you create your array using the following: Bash does not support multi-dimensional arrays, but there is a way to imitate this functionality, if you absolutely have to. bash documentation: Accessing Array Elements. We can display the length of the whole array or any array element by using a special operator '#'. Bash arrays have numbered indexes only, but they are sparse, ie you don't have to define all the indexes. Arrays are indexed using integers and are zero-based. As a quick example, here’s a data table representing a two-dimensional array. Now the myarray contains 3 elements so bash split string into array was successful # /tmp/split-string.sh My array: string1 string2 string3 Number of elements in the array: 3 . Method 3: Bash split string into array using delimiter. No, you need not count them all. Unlike in many other programming languages, in bash, an array is not a collection of similar elements. There is no maximum limit on the size of an array, nor any requirement that members be indexed or assigned contiguously. Since bash 4.3 it is not that easy anymore. In Bash, there are two types of arrays. We can combine read with IFS (Internal Field Separator) to define a delimiter. This is a pretty common problem in bash, to reference array within arrays for which you need to create name-references with declare -n.The name following the -n will act as a nameref to the value assigned (after =).Now we treat this variable with nameref attribute to expand as if it were an array and do a full proper quoted array expansion as before. Bash Array – An array is a collection of elements. Print all elements, each quoted separately. These index numbers are always integer numbers which start at 0. An array is a variable that can hold multiple values, where each value has a reference index known as a key. @nath declare -p is just a quick way to make bash print the real array (index and contents). Instead, bash provides a special operator who does all the work for us. There are the associative arrays and integer-indexed arrays. Elements in arrays are frequently referred to by their index number, which is the position in which they reside in the array. 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