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# Static scoping

(Redirected from Lexical scoping)

In computer science, static scoping, as opposed to dynamic scoping, is a way that the scope (programming) of free variables is determined according to its position in program code. It is also called lexical scoping.

A variable is said to be lexically scoped if its scope is defined by the text of the program. For instance a variable named balance might be scoped to the inside of the body of one function. That variable is then guaranteed to have nothing to do with any other variable named balance anywhere else in the program, or indeed with the variable named balance in other calls to the same function. This allows programmers to guarantee that their private variables will not accidentally be accessed or altered by functions that they call, and is considered a significant improvement over the older dynamic variable scoping

For example, take this procedure in Scheme:

```(define (foo)
(let* ((x 5)
(gimmex (lambda () x ))
(x 10))
(gimmex)))
```

gimmex will return 5 in lexical scoping, as Scheme will return, and 10 in dynamic scoping.

In lexical scoping, gimmex was defined in the scope of the outer let*, where x is 5. gimmex closes the procedure (lambda () x) around the scope of x = 5. In other words, variables that occur free in a procedure or subroutine would be looked up in the scope where the procedure was declared. In dynamic scoping, gimmex would return 10, because when gimmex was called, x was defined to be 10.

Lexical scoping was first introduced in Algol, and has been picked up in other languages since then. Descendants of dynamically scoped languages often adopt lexical scoping. In Lisp, for example, Emacs Lisp once used only dynamic scoping, Common Lisp has both dynamic and lexical scoping, and Scheme uses lexical scoping exclusively. The original Lisp used dynamic scoping. In other cases, languages which already had dynamic scoping have added lexical scoping afterwards, such as Perl. C and Pascal have always had lexical scoping, since they are both influenced by the ideas that went into Algol.

See also: closure, lexical, dynamic variable scoping.

Last updated: 08-07-2005 20:32:44
03-10-2013 05:06:04