Problem: I need to maintain state for a function. In simpler and analogous terms, what static member variables do for a class, I want something to do the same for functions.
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I tried this in nodejs, and here is the output:
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foo returns a function which returns an incremented value of
x. At first glance, to C/C++ programmers, this looks weird, because
x, is a variable declared in
foo, so how would the returned function have access to
Firstly, in JS, a variable continues to live, as long as there is a reference to it. So, as long as the returned function is referenced by someone, its copy of
x is referenced, and it continues to live.
Secondly, what we are doing, is a concept called a Closure.
Quoting the Wikipedia article verbatim here:
A closure allows a function to access variables outside its immediate lexical scope. An upvalue is a free variable that has been bound (closed over) with a closure.
This is pretty clear. The upvalue here is
The referencing environment binds the nonlocal names to the corresponding variables in scope at the time the closure is created, additionally extending their lifetime to at least as long as the lifetime of the closure itself.
So, the copy of
x that the function refers to, lives on.
When the closure is entered at a later time, possibly from a different scope, the function is executed with its non-local variables referring to the ones captured by the closure.
This is what is happening when I execute the returned function.
This was an introductory post to Closures in JS, here is a much better and well-motivated post.
Again, the Nirvana is courtesy Dhruv :-)