This paper is provided as is without warranties of any kind.

- The
**Lua**Language**Part I**is mainly an excerpt taken from the "*Reference Manual of the Programming language Lua (5.1)*", copyright © 1994-2006 by Lua.org, PUC-Rio, that is included in the official documentation of the language. To get the complete manual visit the site http://www.lua.org.

IMPORTANT: The excerpt includes sections of the original documentation that are not useful or not implemented in the Gun Tactics II sandbox. That's why references to several paragraphs cited in the text are broken.

**Part II**describes the core API accessible to the Lua language (when it is used in the Gun Tactics II sandbox) and it is again an excerpt from the Lua Reference Manual.

- Part I - The Lua Language

- 1 - Introduction
- 2 - The Language

- Part II - The LUA API

*Excerpt from the*

Copyright
© 2006 TeCGraf, PUC-Rio. All rights reserved.

Lua is an extension programming language designed to support general
procedural programming with data description facilities. It also offers good
support for object-oriented programming, functional programming, and data-driven
programming. Lua is intended to be used as a powerful, light-weight scripting
language for any program that needs one. Lua is implemented as a library,
written in *clean* C (that is, in the common subset of ANSI C and
C++).

Being an extension language, Lua has no notion of a "main" program:
it only works *embedded* in a host client, called the *embedding
program* or simply the *host*. This host program can invoke functions
to execute a piece of Lua code, can write and read Lua variables, and can
register C functions to be called by Lua code. Through the use of C functions,
Lua can be augmented to cope with a wide range of different domains, thus
creating customized programming languages sharing a syntactical framework. The
Lua distribution includes a sample host program called `lua`

, which
uses the Lua library to offer a complete, stand-alone Lua interpreter.

Lua is free software, and is provided as usual with no guarantees, as stated
in its license. The implementation described in this manual is available at
Lua's official web site, `www.lua.org`

.

Like any other reference manual, this document is dry in places. For a
discussion of the decisions behind the design of Lua, see the technical papers
available at Lua's web site. For a detailed introduction to programming in Lua,
see Roberto's book, *Programming in Lua*.

This section describes the lexis, the syntax, and the semantics of Lua. In other words, this section describes which tokens are valid, how they can be combined, and what their combinations mean.

The language constructs will be explained using the usual extended BNF
notation, in which {*a*} means 0 or more *a*'s, and [*a*] means
an optional *a*. Non-terminals are shown like non-terminal, keywords are
shown like **kword**, and other terminal symbols are shown like `**=**´.
The complete syntax of Lua can be found at the end of this manual.

*Names* (also called *identifiers*) in Lua can be any string of
letters, digits, and underscores, not beginning with a digit. This coincides
with the definition of names in most languages. (The definition of letter
depends on the current locale: any character considered alphabetic by the
current locale can be used in an identifier.) Identifiers are used to name
variables and table fields.

The following *keywords* are reserved and cannot be used as names:

and break do else elseif end false for function if in local nil not or repeat return then true until while

Lua is a case-sensitive language: `and`

is a reserved word, but `And`

and `AND`

are two different, valid names. As a convention, names
starting with an underscore followed by uppercase letters (such as `_VERSION`

)
are reserved for internal global variables used by Lua.

The following strings denote other tokens:

+ - * / % ^ # == ~= <= >= < > = ( ) { } [ ] ; : , . .. ...

*Literal strings* can be delimited by matching single or double
quotes, and can contain the following C-like escape sequences: '`\a`

'
(bell), '`\b`

' (backspace), '`\f`

' (form feed), '`\n`

'
(newline), '`\r`

' (carriage return), '`\t`

' (horizontal
tab), '`\v`

' (vertical tab), '`\\`

' (backslash), '`\"`

'
(quotation mark [double quote]), and '`\'`

' (apostrophe [single
quote]). Moreover, a backslash followed by a real newline results in a newline
in the string. A character in a string may also be specified by its numerical
value using the escape sequence `\`

, where *ddd**ddd*
is a sequence of up to three decimal digits. (Note that if a numerical escape is
to be followed by a digit, it must be expressed using exactly three digits.)
Strings in Lua may contain any 8-bit value, including embedded zeros, which can
be specified as '`\0`

'.

To put a double (single) quote, a newline, a backslash, or an embedded zero inside a literal string enclosed by double (single) quotes you must use an escape sequence. Any other character may be directly inserted into the literal. (Some control characters may cause problems for the file system, but Lua has no problem with them.)

Literal strings can also be defined using a long format enclosed by *long
brackets*. We define an *opening long bracket of level n* as
an opening square bracket followed by

`[[`

, an opening long bracket of level 1 is written as `[=[`

,
and so on. A `]====]`

. A long
string starts with an opening long bracket of any level and ends at the first
closing long bracket of the same level. Literals in this bracketed form may run
for several lines, do not interpret any escape sequences, and ignore long
brackets of any other level. They may contain anything except a closing bracket
of the proper level.
For convenience, when the opening long bracket is immediately followed by a
newline, the newline is not included in the string. As an example, in a system
using ASCII (in which '`a`

' is coded as 97, newline is coded as 10,
and '`1`

' is coded as 49), the five literals below denote the
same string:

a = 'alo\n123"' a = "alo\n123\"" a = '\97lo\10\04923"' a = [[alo 123"]] a = [==[ alo 123"]==]

A *numerical constant* may be written with an optional decimal part
and an optional decimal exponent. Lua also accepts integer hexadecimal
constants, by prefixing them with `0x`

. Examples of valid numerical
constants are

3 3.0 3.1416 314.16e-2 0.31416E1 0xff 0x56

A *comment* starts with a double hyphen (`--`

) anywhere
outside a string. If the text immediately after `--`

is not an
opening long bracket, the comment is a *short comment*, which runs until
the end of the line. Otherwise, it is a *long comment*, which runs until
the corresponding closing long bracket. Long comments are frequently used to
disable code temporarily.

Lua is a *dynamically typed language*. This means that variables do
not have types; only values do. There are no type definitions in the language.
All values carry their own type.

All values in Lua are *first-class values*. This means that all values
can be stored in variables, passed as arguments to other functions, and returned
as results.

There are eight basic types in Lua: *nil*, *boolean*, *number*,
*string*, *function*, *userdata*, *thread*, and *table*.
*Nil* is the type of the value **nil**, whose main property is to be
different from any other value; it usually represents the absence of a useful
value. *Boolean* is the type of the values **false** and **true**.
Both **nil** and **false** make a condition false; any other value makes
it true. *Number* represents real (double-precision floating-point)
numbers. (It is easy to build Lua interpreters that use other internal
representations for numbers, such as single-precision float or long integers;
see file `luaconf.h`

.) *String* represents arrays of
characters. Lua is 8-bit clean: strings may contain any 8-bit character,
including embedded zeros ('`\0`

') (see §2.1).

Lua can call (and manipulate) functions written in Lua and functions written in C (see §2.5.8).

The type *userdata* is provided to allow arbitrary C data to be
stored in Lua variables. This type corresponds to a block of raw memory and has
no pre-defined operations in Lua, except assignment and identity test. However,
by using *metatables*, the programmer can define operations for userdata
values (see §2.8). Userdata values cannot be created or
modified in Lua, only through the C API. This guarantees the integrity of
data owned by the host program.

The type *thread* represents independent threads of execution and it
is used to implement coroutines (see §2.11). Do not confuse
Lua threads with operating-system threads. Lua supports coroutines on all
systems, even those that do not support threads.

The type *table* implements associative arrays, that is, arrays that
can be indexed not only with numbers, but with any value (except **nil**).
Tables can be *heterogeneous*; that is, they can contain values of all
types (except **nil**). Tables are the sole data structuring mechanism in Lua;
they may be used to represent ordinary arrays, symbol tables, sets, records,
graphs, trees, etc. To represent records, Lua uses the field name as an index.
The language supports this representation by providing `a.name`

as
syntactic sugar for `a["name"]`

. There are several
convenient ways to create tables in Lua (see §2.5.7).

Like indices, the value of a table field can be of any type (except **nil**).
In particular, because functions are first-class values, table fields may
contain functions. Thus tables may also carry *methods* (see §2.5.9).

Tables, functions, threads, and (full) userdata values are *objects*:
variables do not actually *contain* these values, only *references*
to them. Assignment, parameter passing, and function returns always manipulate
references to such values; these operations do not imply any kind of copy.

The library function `type`

returns a
string describing the type of a given value.

Lua provides automatic conversion between string and number values at run
time. Any arithmetic operation applied to a string tries to convert this string
to a number, following the usual conversion rules. Conversely, whenever a number
is used where a string is expected, the number is converted to a string, in a
reasonable format. For complete control over how numbers are converted to
strings, use the `format`

function from the string library (see `string.format`

).

Variables are places that store values. There are three kinds of variables in Lua: global variables, local variables, and table fields.

A single name can denote a global variable or a local variable (or a function's formal parameter, which is a particular kind of local variable):

var ::= Name

Name denotes identifiers, as defined in §2.1.

Variables are assumed to be global unless explicitly declared local (see §2.4.7).
Local variables are *lexically scoped*: local variables can be freely
accessed by functions defined inside their scope (see §2.6).

Before the first assignment to a variable, its value is **nil**.

Square brackets are used to index a table:

var ::= prefixexp `[´ exp `]´

The meaning of accesses to global variables and table fields can be changed
via metatables. An access to an indexed variable `t[i]`

is equivalent
to a call `gettable_event(t,i)`

. (See §2.8 for a
complete description of the `gettable_event`

function. This function
is not defined or callable in Lua. We use it here only for explanatory
purposes.)

The syntax `var.Name`

is just syntactic sugar for `var["Name"]`

:

var ::= prefixexp `.´ Name

All global variables live as fields in ordinary Lua tables, called *environment
tables* or simply *environments* (see §2.9). Each
function has its own reference to an environment, so that all global variables
in this function will refer to this environment table. When a function is
created, it inherits the environment from the function that created it. To get
the environment table of a Lua function, you call `getfenv`

.
To replace it, you call `setfenv`

. (You
can only manipulate the environment of C functions through the debug
library; (see §5.9).)

An access to a global variable `x`

is equivalent to `_env.x`

,
which in turn is equivalent to

gettable_event(_env, "x")

where `_env`

is the environment of the running function. (See §2.8
for a complete description of the `gettable_event`

function. This
function is not defined or callable in Lua. Similarly, the `_env`

variable is not defined in Lua. We use them here only for explanatory purposes.)

Lua supports an almost conventional set of statements, similar to those in Pascal or C. This set includes assignment, control structures, function calls, and variable declarations.

The unit of execution of Lua is called a *chunk*. A chunk is simply a
sequence of statements, which are executed sequentially. Each statement can be
optionally followed by a semicolon:

chunk ::= {stat [`;´]}

There are no empty statements and thus '`;;`

' is not legal.

Lua handles a chunk as the body of an anonymous function with a variable number of arguments (see §2.5.9). As such, chunks can define local variables, receive arguments, and return values.

A chunk may be stored in a file or in a string inside the host program. When a chunk is executed, first it is pre-compiled into instructions for a virtual machine, and then the compiled code is executed by an interpreter for the virtual machine.

Chunks may also be pre-compiled into binary form; see program `luac`

for details. Programs in source and compiled forms are interchangeable; Lua
automatically detects the file type and acts accordingly.

A block is a list of statements; syntactically, a block is the same as a chunk:

block ::= chunk

A block may be explicitly delimited to produce a single statement:

stat ::=doblockend

Explicit blocks are useful to control the scope of variable declarations.
Explicit blocks are also sometimes used to add a **return** or **break**
statement in the middle of another block (see §2.4.4).

Lua allows multiple assignment. Therefore, the syntax for assignment defines a list of variables on the left side and a list of expressions on the right side. The elements in both lists are separated by commas:

stat ::= varlist1 `=´ explist1 varlist1 ::= var {`,´ var} explist1 ::= exp {`,´ exp}

Expressions are discussed in §2.5.

Before the assignment, the list of values is *adjusted* to the length
of the list of variables. If there are more values than needed, the excess
values are thrown away. If there are fewer values than needed, the list is
extended with as many **nil**'s as needed. If the list of expressions ends
with a function call, then all values returned by this call enter in the list of
values, before the adjustment (except when the call is enclosed in parentheses;
see §2.5).

The assignment statement first evaluates all its expressions and only then are the assignments performed. Thus the code

i = 3 i, a[i] = i+1, 20

sets `a[3]`

to 20, without affecting `a[4]`

because the
`i`

in `a[i]`

is evaluated (to 3) before it is assigned 4.
Similarly, the line

x, y = y, x

exchanges the values of `x`

and `y`

.

The meaning of assignments to global variables and table fields can be
changed via metatables. An assignment to an indexed variable `t[i] = val`

is equivalent to `settable_event(t,i,val)`

. (See §2.8
for a complete description of the `settable_event`

function. This
function is not defined or callable in Lua. We use it here only for explanatory
purposes.)

An assignment to a global variable `x = val`

is equivalent to the
assignment `_env.x = val`

, which in turn is equivalent to

settable_event(_env, "x", val)

where `_env`

is the environment of the running function. (The `_env`

variable is not defined in Lua. We use it here only for explanatory purposes.)

The control structures **if**, **while**, and **repeat** have the
usual meaning and familiar syntax:

stat ::=whileexpdoblockendstat ::=repeatblockuntilexp stat ::=ifexpthenblock {elseifexpthenblock} [elseblock]end

Lua also has a **for** statement, in two flavors (see §2.4.5).

The condition expression of a control structure may return any value. Both **false**
and **nil** are considered false. All values different from **nil** and **false**
are considered true (in particular, the number 0 and the empty string are also
true).

In the **repeat**–**until** loop, the inner block does not end at the
**until** keyword, but only after the condition. So, the condition can refer
to local variables declared inside the loop block.

The **return** statement is used to return values from a function or a
chunk (which is just a function). Functions and chunks may return more than one
value, so the syntax for the **return** statement is

stat ::=return[explist1]

The **break** statement is used to terminate the execution of a **while**,
**repeat**, or **for** loop, skipping to the next statement after the
loop:

stat ::=break

A **break** ends the innermost enclosing loop.

The **return** and **break** statements can only be written as the *last*
statement of a block. If it is really necessary to **return** or **break**
in the middle of a block, then an explicit inner block can be used, as in the
idioms `do return end`

and `do break end`

, because now **return**
and **break** are the last statements in their (inner) blocks.

The **for** statement has two forms: one numeric and one generic.

The numeric **for** loop repeats a block of code while a control variable
runs through an arithmetic progression. It has the following syntax:

stat ::=forName `=´ exp `,´ exp [`,´ exp]doblockend

The *block* is repeated for *name* starting at the value of the
first *exp*, until it passes the second *exp* by steps of the
third *exp*. More precisely, a **for** statement like

for var = e1, e2, e3 do block end

is equivalent to the code:

do local _var, _limit, _step = tonumber(e1), tonumber(e2), tonumber(e3) if not (_var and _limit and _step) then error() end while (_step>0 and _var<=_limit) or (_step<=0 and _var>=_limit) do local var = _varblock_var = _var + _step end end

Note the following:

- All three control expressions are evaluated only once, before the loop starts. They must all result in numbers.
`_var`

,`_limit`

, and`_step`

are invisible variables. The names are here for explanatory purposes only.- If the third expression (the step) is absent, then a step of 1 is used.
- You can use
**break**to exit a**for**loop. - The loop variable
`var`

is local to the loop; you cannot use its value after the**for**ends or is broken. If you need the value of the loop variable`var`

, then assign it to another variable before breaking or exiting the loop.

The generic **for** statement works over functions, called *iterators*.
On each iteration, the iterator function is called to produce a new value,
stopping when this new value is **nil**. The generic **for** loop has the
following syntax:

stat ::=fornamelistinexplist1doblockendnamelist ::= Name {`,´ Name}

A **for** statement like

for var_1, ···, var_n in explist do block end

is equivalent to the code:

do local _f, _s, _var = explist while true do local var_1, ···, var_n = _f(_s, _var) _var = var_1 if _var == nil then break end block end end

Note the following:

`explist`

is evaluated only once. Its results are an*iterator*function, a*state*, and an initial value for the first*iterator variable*.`_f`

,`_s`

, and`_var`

are invisible variables. The names are here for explanatory purposes only.- You can use
**break**to exit a**for**loop. - The loop variables
`var_i`

are local to the loop; you cannot use their values after the**for**ends. If you need these values, then assign them to other variables before breaking or exiting the loop.

To allow possible side-effects, function calls can be executed as statements:

stat ::= functioncall

In this case, all returned values are thrown away. Function calls are explained in §2.5.8.

Local variables may be declared anywhere inside a block. The declaration may include an initial assignment:

stat ::=localnamelist [`=´ explist1]

If present, an initial assignment has the same semantics of a multiple
assignment (see §2.4.3). Otherwise, all variables are
initialized with **nil**.

A chunk is also a block (see §2.4.1), and so local variables can be declared in a chunk outside any explicit block. The scope of such local variables extends until the end of the chunk.

The visibility rules for local variables are explained in §2.6.

The basic expressions in Lua are the following:

exp ::= prefixexp exp ::=nil|false|trueexp ::= Number exp ::= String exp ::= function exp ::= tableconstructor exp ::= `...´ exp ::= exp binop exp exp ::= unop exp prefixexp ::= var | functioncall | `(´ exp `)´

Numbers and literal strings are explained in §2.1;
variables are explained in §2.3; function definitions are
explained in §2.5.9; function calls are explained in §2.5.8;
table constructors are explained in §2.5.7. Vararg
expressions, denoted by three dots ('`...`

'), can only be used inside
vararg functions; they are explained in §2.5.9.

Binary operators comprise arithmetic operators (see §2.5.1),
relational operators (see §2.5.2), logical operators (see §2.5.3),
and the concatenation operator (see §2.5.4). Unary
operators comprise the unary minus (see §2.5.1), the unary
**not** (see §2.5.3), and the unary *length operator*
(see §2.5.5).

Both function calls and vararg expressions may result in multiple values. If the expression is used as a statement (see §2.4.6) (only possible for function calls), then its return list is adjusted to zero elements, thus discarding all returned values. If the expression is used inside another expression or in the middle of a list of expressions, then its result list is adjusted to one element, thus discarding all values except the first one. If the expression is used as the last element of a list of expressions, then no adjustment is made, unless the call is enclosed in parentheses.

Here are some examples:

f() -- adjusted to 0 results g(f(), x) -- f() is adjusted to 1 result g(x, f()) -- g gets x plus all values returned by f() a,b,c = f(), x -- f() is adjusted to 1 result (c gets nil) a,b = ... -- a gets the first vararg parameter, b gets -- the second (both a and b may get nil if there is -- no corresponding vararg parameter) a,b,c = x, f() -- f() is adjusted to 2 results a,b,c = f() -- f() is adjusted to 3 results return f() -- returns all values returned by f() return ... -- returns all received vararg parameters return x,y,f() -- returns x, y, and all values returned by f() {f()} -- creates a list with all values returned by f() {...} -- creates a list with all vararg parameters {f(), nil} -- f() is adjusted to 1 result

An expression enclosed in parentheses always results in only one value. Thus,
`(f(x,y,z))`

is always a single value, even if `f`

returns
several values. (The value of `(f(x,y,z))`

is the first value
returned by `f`

or **nil** if `f`

does not return any
values.)

Lua supports the usual arithmetic operators: the binary `+`

(addition), `-`

(subtraction), `*`

(multiplication), `/`

(division), `%`

(modulo), and `^`

(exponentiation); and
unary `-`

(negation). If the operands are numbers, or strings that
can be converted to numbers (see §2.2.1), then all
operations have the usual meaning. Exponentiation works for any exponent. For
instance, `x^(-0.5)`

computes the inverse of the square root of `x`

.
Modulo is defined as

a % b == a - math.floor(a/b)*b

That is, it is the remainder of a division that rounds the quotient towards minus infinity.

The relational operators in Lua are

== ~= < > <= >=

These operators always result in **false** or **true**.

Equality (`==`

) first compares the type of its operands. If the
types are different, then the result is **false**. Otherwise, the values of
the operands are compared. Numbers and strings are compared in the usual way.
Objects (tables, userdata, threads, and functions) are compared by *reference*:
two objects are considered equal only if they are the *same* object.
Every time you create a new object (a table, userdata, thread, or function),
this new object is different from any previously existing object.

You can change the way that Lua compares tables and userdata by using the "eq" metamethod (see §2.8).

The conversion rules of §2.2.1 *do not* apply to
equality comparisons. Thus, `"0"==0`

evaluates to **false**,
and `t[0]`

and `t["0"]`

denote different entries
in a table.

The operator `~=`

is exactly the negation of equality (`==`

).

The order operators work as follows. If both arguments are numbers, then they are compared as such. Otherwise, if both arguments are strings, then their values are compared according to the current locale. Otherwise, Lua tries to call the "lt" or the "le" metamethod (see §2.8).

The logical operators in Lua are **and**, **or**, and **not**. Like
the control structures (see §2.4.4), all logical operators
consider both **false** and **nil** as false and anything else as true.

The negation operator **not** always returns **false** or **true**.
The conjunction operator **and** returns its first argument if this value is **false**
or **nil**; otherwise, **and** returns its second argument. The
disjunction operator **or** returns its first argument if this value is
different from **nil** and **false**; otherwise, **or** returns its
second argument. Both **and** and **or** use short-cut evaluation; that
is, the second operand is evaluated only if necessary. Here are some examples:

10 or 20 --> 10 10 or error() --> 10 nil or "a" --> "a" nil and 10 --> nil false and error() --> false false and nil --> false false or nil --> nil 10 and 20 --> 20

(In this manual, --> indicates the result of the preceding expression.)

The string concatenation operator in Lua is denoted by two dots ('`..`

').
If both operands are strings or numbers, then they are converted to strings
according to the rules mentioned in §2.2.1. Otherwise, the
"concat" metamethod is called (see §2.8).

The length operator is denoted by the unary operator `#`

. The
length of a string is its number of bytes (that is, the usual meaning of string
length when each character is one byte).

The length of a table `t`

is defined to be any integer index `n`

such that `t[n]`

is not **nil** and `t[n+1]`

is **nil**;
moreover, if `t[1]`

is **nil**, `n`

may be zero. For a
regular array, with non-nil values from 1 to a given `n`

, its length
is exactly that `n`

, the index of its last value. If the array has
"holes" (that is, **nil** values between other non-nil values),
then `#t`

may be any of the indices that directly precedes a **nil**
value (that is, it may consider any such **nil** value as the end of the
array).

Operator precedence in Lua follows the table below, from lower to higher priority:

or and < > <= >= ~= == .. + - * / % not # - (unary) ^

As usual, you can use parentheses to change the precedences of an expression.
The concatenation ('`..`

') and exponentiation ('`^`

')
operators are right associative. All other binary operators are left
associative.

Table constructors are expressions that create tables. Every time a constructor is evaluated, a new table is created. Constructors can be used to create empty tables, or to create a table and initialize some of its fields. The general syntax for constructors is

tableconstructor ::= `{´ [fieldlist] `}´ fieldlist ::= field {fieldsep field} [fieldsep] field ::= `[´ exp `]´ `=´ exp | Name `=´ exp | exp fieldsep ::= `,´ | `;´

Each field of the form `[exp1] = exp2`

adds to the new table an
entry with key `exp1`

and value `exp2`

. A field of the
form `name = exp`

is equivalent to `["name"] = exp`

.
Finally, fields of the form `exp`

are equivalent to `[i] = exp`

,
where `i`

are consecutive numerical integers, starting with 1. Fields
in the other formats do not affect this counting. For example,

a = { [f(1)] = g; "x", "y"; x = 1, f(x), [30] = 23; 45 }

is equivalent to

do local t = {} t[f(1)] = g t[1] = "x" -- 1st exp t[2] = "y" -- 2nd exp t.x = 1 -- t["x"] = 1 t[3] = f(x) -- 3rd exp t[30] = 23 t[4] = 45 -- 4th exp a = t end

If the last field in the list has the form `exp`

and the
expression is a function call or a vararg expression, then all values returned
by this expression enter the list consecutively (see §2.5.8).
To avoid this, enclose the function call (or the vararg expression) in
parentheses (see §2.5).

The field list may have an optional trailing separator, as a convenience for machine-generated code.

A function call in Lua has the following syntax:

functioncall ::= prefixexp args

In a function call, first prefixexp and args are evaluated. If the value of
prefixexp has type *function*, then this function is called with the
given arguments. Otherwise, the prefixexp "call" metamethod is called,
having as first parameter the value of prefixexp, followed by the original call
arguments (see §2.8).

The form

functioncall ::= prefixexp `:´ Name args

can be used to call "methods". A call `v:name(`

is syntactic sugar for *args*)`v.name(v,`

, except that *args*)`v`

is evaluated only once.

Arguments have the following syntax:

args ::= `(´ [explist1] `)´ args ::= tableconstructor args ::= String

All argument expressions are evaluated before the call. A call of the form `f{`

is syntactic sugar for *fields*}`f({`

; that is, the argument
list is a single new table. A call of the form *fields*})`f'`

(or *string*'`f"`

or *string*"`f[[`

)
is syntactic sugar for *string*]]`f('`

; that is, the argument
list is a single literal string.
*string*')

As an exception to the free-format syntax of Lua, you cannot put a line break
before the '`(`

' in a function call. This restriction avoids some
ambiguities in the language. If you write

a = f (g).x(a)

Lua would see that as a single statement, `a = f(g).x(a)`

. So, if
you want two statements, you must add a semi-colon between them. If you actually
want to call `f`

, you must remove the line break before `(g)`

.

A call of the form `return`

*functioncall* is called a *tail
call*. Lua implements *proper tail calls* (or *proper tail
recursion*): in a tail call, the called function reuses the stack entry of
the calling function. Therefore, there is no limit on the number of nested tail
calls that a program can execute. However, a tail call erases any debug
information about the calling function. Note that a tail call only happens with
a particular syntax, where the **return** has one single function call as
argument; this syntax makes the calling function return exactly the returns of
the called function. So, none of the following examples are tail calls:

return (f(x)) -- results adjusted to 1 return 2 * f(x) return x, f(x) -- additional results f(x); return -- results discarded return x or f(x) -- results adjusted to 1

The syntax for function definition is

function ::=functionfuncbody funcbody ::= `(´ [parlist1] `)´ blockend

The following syntactic sugar simplifies function definitions:

stat ::=functionfuncname funcbody stat ::=localfunctionName funcbody funcname ::= Name {`.´ Name} [`:´ Name]

The statement

function f ()bodyend

translates to

f = function ()bodyend

The statement

function t.a.b.c.f ()bodyend

translates to

t.a.b.c.f = function ()bodyend

The statement

local function f ()bodyend

translates to

local f; f = function ()bodyend

*not* to

local f = function ()bodyend

(This only makes a difference when the body of the function contains
references to `f`

.)

A function definition is an executable expression, whose value has type *function*.
When Lua pre-compiles a chunk, all its function bodies are pre-compiled too.
Then, whenever Lua executes the function definition, the function is *instantiated*
(or *closed*). This function instance (or *closure*) is the final
value of the expression. Different instances of the same function may refer to
different external local variables and may have different environment tables.

Parameters act as local variables that are initialized with the argument values:

parlist1 ::= namelist [`,´ `...´] | `...´

When a function is called, the list of arguments is adjusted to the length of
the list of parameters, unless the function is a variadic or *vararg function*,
which is indicated by three dots ('`...`

') at the end of its
parameter list. A vararg function does not adjust its argument list; instead, it
collects all extra arguments and supplies them to the function through a *vararg
expression*, which is also written as three dots. The value of this
expression is a list of all actual extra arguments, similar to a function with
multiple results. If a vararg expression is used inside another expression or in
the middle of a list of expressions, then its return list is adjusted to one
element. If the expression is used as the last element of a list of expressions,
then no adjustment is made (unless the call is enclosed in parentheses).

As an example, consider the following definitions:

function f(a, b) end function g(a, b, ...) end function r() return 1,2,3 end

Then, we have the following mapping from arguments to parameters and to the vararg expression:

CALL PARAMETERS f(3) a=3, b=nil f(3, 4) a=3, b=4 f(3, 4, 5) a=3, b=4 f(r(), 10) a=1, b=10 f(r()) a=1, b=2 g(3) a=3, b=nil, ... --> (nothing) g(3, 4) a=3, b=4, ... --> (nothing) g(3, 4, 5, 8) a=3, b=4, ... --> 5 8 g(5, r()) a=5, b=1, ... --> 2 3

Results are returned using the **return** statement (see §2.4.4).
If control reaches the end of a function without encountering a **return**
statement, then the function returns with no results.

The *colon* syntax is used for defining *methods*, that is,
functions that have an implicit extra parameter `self`

. Thus, the
statement

function t.a.b.c:f (params)bodyend

is syntactic sugar for

t.a.b.c.f = function (self,params)bodyend

Lua is a lexically scoped language. The scope of variables begins at the
first statement *after* their declaration and lasts until the end of the
innermost block that includes the declaration. Consider the following example:

x = 10 -- global variable do -- new block local x = x -- new 'x', with value 10 print(x) --> 10 x = x+1 do -- another block local x = x+1 -- another 'x' print(x) --> 12 end print(x) --> 11 end print(x) --> 10 (the global one)

Notice that, in a declaration like `local x = x`

, the new `x`

being declared is not in scope yet, and so the second `x`

refers to
the outside variable.

Because of the lexical scoping rules, local variables can be freely accessed
by functions defined inside their scope. A local variable used by an inner
function is called an *upvalue*, or *external local variable*,
inside the inner function.

Notice that each execution of a **local** statement defines new local
variables. Consider the following example:

a = {} local x = 20 for i=1,10 do local y = 0 a[i] = function () y=y+1; return x+y end end

The loop creates ten closures (that is, ten instances of the anonymous
function). Each of these closures uses a different `y`

variable,
while all of them share the same `x`

.

The standard Lua libraries provide useful functions that are implemented directly through the C API.

This library is an interface to the standard C math library. It provides
all its functions inside the table `math`

.

`math.abs (x)`

Returns the absolute value of `x`

.

`math.acos (x)`

Returns the arc cosine of `x`

(in radians).

`math.asin (x)`

Returns the arc sine of `x`

(in radians).

`math.atan (x)`

Returns the arc tangent of `x`

(in radians).

`math.atan2 (x, y)`

Returns the arc tangent of `x/y`

(in radians), but uses the signs
of both parameters to find the quadrant of the result. (It also handles
correctly the case of `y`

being zero.)

`math.ceil (x)`

Returns the smallest integer larger than or equal to `x`

.

`math.cos (x)`

Returns the cosine of `x`

(assumed to be in radians).

`math.cosh (x)`

Returns the hyperbolic cosine of `x`

.

`math.deg (x)`

Returns the angle `x`

(given in radians) in degrees.

`math.exp (x)`

Returns the the value *e ^{x}*.

`math.floor (x)`

Returns the largest integer smaller than or equal to `x`

.

`math.fmod (x, y)`

Returns the remainder of the division of `x`

by `y`

.

`math.frexp (x)`

Returns `m`

and `e`

such that *x = m2 ^{e}*,

`e`

is an integer and the absolute value of `m`

is in the
range `x`

is zero).

`math.huge`

The value `HUGE_VAL`

, a value larger than or equal to any other
numerical value.

`math.ldexp (m, e)`

Returns *m2 ^{e}* (

`e`

should be an integer).

`math.log (x)`

Returns the natural logarithm of `x`

.

`math.log10 (x)`

Returns the base-10 logarithm of `x`

.

`math.max (x, ···)`

Returns the maximum value among its arguments.

`math.min (x, ···)`

Returns the minimum value among its arguments.

`math.modf (x)`

Returns two numbers, the integral part of `x`

and the fractional
part of `x`

.

`math.pi`

The value PI.

`math.pow (x, y)`

Returns *x ^{y}*. (You can also use the expression

`x^y`

to compute this value.)

`math.rad (x)`

Returns the angle `x`

(given in degrees) in radians.

`math.random ()`

This function is an interface to the simple pseudo-random generator function `rand`

provided by ANSI C. (No guarantees can be given for its statistical
properties.)

Returns a pseudo-random real number in the range *[0,1]*.

`math.sin (x)`

Returns the sine of `x`

(assumed to be in radians).

`math.sinh (x)`

Returns the hyperbolic sine of `x`

.

`math.sqrt (x)`

Returns the square root of `x`

. (You can also use the expression `x^0.5`

to compute this value.)

`math.tan (x)`

Returns the tangent of `x`

(assumed to be in radians).

`math.tanh (x)`

Returns the hyperbolic tangent of `x`

.

Any question? Contact: leonardo.boselli@youdev.it

Online resources: https://www.youdev.it/gt2