I have data like this (the real data has over 50,000 digits and 8000 rows):


1 11122
1 21121
2 22221
2 11122
3 21121
3 11122

I want to put the value of each second row beside the value of the first row with the same name. Also, there should be two space as deliminator between each pair of values and there should be one tab as deliminator among different pair of values. The output should look like:


1   1  2    1  1    1  1    2  2    2  1
2   2  1    2  1    2  1    2  2    1  2
3   2  1    1  1    1  1    2  2    1  2

any suggestion?


I'd use perl, and run it as oneliner like this:

perl -wne 'sub parseline { ($id,$v) = split; return split //,$v };
    @a = parseline();
    print "$id\t";
    $_ = <>;
    @b = parseline();
    for ($i=0; $i<@a; $i++) {
      print "$a[$i]  $b[$i]\t"
    print "\n"' < input  > output


  • perl -wne runs the rest of command for each line of input
  • sub parseline { .... } will parse input, and set first number in line as $id, and return the rest as array of characters.
  • @a=parseline() will store first line chars in array @a
  • next, we print $id, followed by TAB (\t)
  • $_=<>; @b=parseline(); will read next (even) line and put it's data in array @b
  • for ($i=0; $i<@a; $i++) { print "$a[$i] $b[$i]\t" } for each element of the array @a, we will print that element, two spaces, corresponding element from array @b and then tab
  • print "\n" will print newline at the end
  • due to -n parameter to perl at the start, whole process will restart with line 3, then 5, then 7 etc.
  • < input > output indicates from which file we read our input, and to which file we write output.

Note: the code will print extra tab at the end of each line. Removing it is left as an exercise for the reader to prevent crowdsourced homework assignments and keep code little simpler. Also the code assumes that lines to pair are always two and one after another (as given in example)

As it processes input file line by line, it easily scales linearly for many thousands of lines...

  • 1
    +1. hint for homework students: the traditional way to avoid printing a trailing TAB (or other field separator) is to push the string (e.g. push @c, $id and push @c, "$a[$i] $b[$i]") to an array rather than print it, and then later (when the entire line has been processed, i.e. where the print "\n" is now) do something like print(join("\t",@c)),"\n"; @c=();. Also, given that there's no requirement mentioned to run it inside a shell script, it's better to write it as a stand-alone #!/usr/bin/perl -n script. Also, use strict as well as just -w for use warnings. – cas Aug 6 '16 at 2:59

Here's a version of Matija Nalis's script which uses the pairwise function from the List:MoreUtils module to join the two arrays, and also doesn't require that lines with matching IDs (first field) be on consecutive lines. i.e. they can be separated by any number of lines.

#! /usr/bin/perl

use strict;
use warnings;
use List::MoreUtils qw(pairwise);

sub parseline { my ($id,$v) = split; return $id, split //,$v };

my %ID=();

while (<>) {
    my ($id, @line) = parseline();

    if ( !defined($ID{$id}) ) {
      push @{ $ID{$id} }, @line ;
    } else {
      my @paired = pairwise { "$a  $b" } @{ $ID{$id} }, @line;
      print join("\t", $id, @paired), "\n";
      delete $ID{$id};

Rather than use a global variable for $id, MN's parseline subroutine has been modified to return both the id and an array of elements in each line.

$id is used as the key to a hash %ID for storing each parsed line. The first time we see a given $id, we just store the parsed line array (@line) in the hash and move on to the next line. The next time we see it, we pairwise join the stored array with the current @line array, print it out with TAB field separators, and then delete that $id from the %ID hash.

See man List::MoreUtils for details on how the pairwise function works. BTW, List::Util and List::MoreUtils are two excellent modules for doing all sorts of list (aka array) manipulations.


$ ./zara.pl zara.txt  
1   1  2    1  1    1  1    2  2    2  1
2   2  1    2  1    2  1    2  2    1  2
3   2  1    1  1    1  1    2  2    1  2

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.