A loop control structure repeats a statement as long as a certain condition is met.
A loop is sectioned into a
- loop head, and a
- loop body.
The loop body is a statement, and the head (possibly implicitly) contains a Boolean expression that determines whether the loop body is executed (again). Every time the statements in the loop body are executed, an iteration occurs.
Loops are particularly useful as a programming construct, since the loop body is only inserted once in the final program. The so-called “loop unrolling” compiler optimization may copy the loop body multiple times anyway, but still you do not need to literally repeat the statements in your source code. Some processors perform particularly well (fast) if a repeating series of instructions occupies a quite small chunk of memory.
- counting loops
for … to|downto do
- conditional loops
If the loop body has a predictable number of iterations, the loop can be written with any loop type, but a counting loop is usually the most reasonable choice. Likewise, conditional loops are interchangeable, too, but in any given situation either one is more suitable.
Unlike in some programming languages, in Pascal a loop itself is a statement; it does not yield a value. Also, a loop body does not create a new scope.