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@c -*-texinfo-*-
@c This is part of the GNU Emacs Lisp Reference Manual.
@c Copyright (C) 1990-1995, 1998-1999, 2001-2012
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@c   Free Software Foundation, Inc.
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@c See the file elisp.texi for copying conditions.
@node Functions, Macros, Variables, Top
@chapter Functions

  A Lisp program is composed mainly of Lisp functions.  This chapter
explains what functions are, how they accept arguments, and how to
define them.

* What Is a Function::    Lisp functions vs. primitives; terminology.
* Lambda Expressions::    How functions are expressed as Lisp objects.
* Function Names::        A symbol can serve as the name of a function.
* Defining Functions::    Lisp expressions for defining functions.
* Calling Functions::     How to use an existing function.
* Mapping Functions::     Applying a function to each element of a list, etc.
* Anonymous Functions::   Lambda expressions are functions with no names.
* Function Cells::        Accessing or setting the function definition
                            of a symbol.
* Closures::              Functions that enclose a lexical environment.
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* Obsolete Functions::    Declaring functions obsolete.
* Inline Functions::      Functions that the compiler will expand inline.
* Declaring Functions::   Telling the compiler that a function is defined.
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* Function Safety::       Determining whether a function is safe to call.
* Related Topics::        Cross-references to specific Lisp primitives
                            that have a special bearing on how functions work.
@end menu

@node What Is a Function
@section What Is a Function?

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@cindex return value
@cindex value of function
@cindex argument
  In a general sense, a function is a rule for carrying out a
computation given input values called @dfn{arguments}.  The result of
the computation is called the @dfn{value} or @dfn{return value} of the
function.  The computation can also have side effects, such as lasting
changes in the values of variables or the contents of data structures.

  In most computer languages, every function has a name.  But in Lisp,
a function in the strictest sense has no name: it is an object which
can @emph{optionally} be associated with a symbol (e.g.@: @code{car})
that serves as the function name.  @xref{Function Names}.  When a
function has been given a name, we usually also refer to that symbol
as a ``function'' (e.g.@: we refer to ``the function @code{car}'').
In this manual, the distinction between a function name and the
function object itself is usually unimportant, but we will take note
wherever it is relevant.

  Certain function-like objects, called @dfn{special forms} and
@dfn{macros}, also accept arguments to carry out computations.
However, as explained below, these are not considered functions in
Emacs Lisp.

  Here are important terms for functions and function-like objects:
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@table @dfn
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@item lambda expression
A function (in the strict sense, i.e.@: a function object) which is
written in Lisp.  These are described in the following section.
@xref{Lambda Expressions}.
@end ifnottex
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@item primitive
@cindex primitive
@cindex subr
@cindex built-in function
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A function which is callable from Lisp but is actually written in C.
Primitives are also called @dfn{built-in functions}, or @dfn{subrs}.
Examples include functions like @code{car} and @code{append}.  In
addition, all special forms (see below) are also considered

Usually, a function is implemented as a primitive because it is a
fundamental part of Lisp (e.g.@: @code{car}), or because it provides a
low-level interface to operating system services, or because it needs
to run fast.  Unlike functions defined in Lisp, primitives can be
modified or added only by changing the C sources and recompiling
Emacs.  See @ref{Writing Emacs Primitives}.
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@item special form
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A primitive that is like a function but does not evaluate all of its
arguments in the usual way.  It may evaluate only some of the
arguments, or may evaluate them in an unusual order, or several times.
Examples include @code{if}, @code{and}, and @code{while}.
@xref{Special Forms}.
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@item macro
@cindex macro
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A construct defined in Lisp, which differs from a function in that it
translates a Lisp expression into another expression which is to be
evaluated instead of the original expression.  Macros enable Lisp
programmers to do the sorts of things that special forms can do.
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@item command
@cindex command
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An object which can be invoked via the @code{command-execute}
primitive, usually due to the user typing in a key sequence
@dfn{bound} to that command.  @xref{Interactive Call}.  A command is
usually a function; if the function is written in Lisp, it is made
into a command by an @code{interactive} form in the function
definition (@pxref{Defining Commands}).  Commands that are functions
can also be called from Lisp expressions, just like other functions.
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Keyboard macros (strings and vectors) are commands also, even though
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they are not functions.  @xref{Keyboard Macros}.  We say that a symbol
is a command if its function cell contains a command (@pxref{Symbol
Components}); such a @dfn{named command} can be invoked with

@item closure
A function object that is much like a lambda expression, except that
it also encloses an ``environment'' of lexical variable bindings.
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@item byte-code function
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A function that has been compiled by the byte compiler.
@xref{Byte-Code Type}.
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@item autoload object
@cindex autoload object
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A place-holder for a real function.  If the autoload object is called,
Emacs loads the file containing the definition of the real function,
and then calls the real function.  @xref{Autoload}.
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@end table

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  You can use the function @code{functionp} to test if an object is a

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@defun functionp object
This function returns @code{t} if @var{object} is any kind of
function, i.e.@: can be passed to @code{funcall}.  Note that
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@code{functionp} returns @code{t} for symbols that are function names,
and returns @code{nil} for special forms.
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@end defun

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Unlike @code{functionp}, the next three functions do @emph{not} treat
a symbol as its function definition.
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@defun subrp object
This function returns @code{t} if @var{object} is a built-in function
(i.e., a Lisp primitive).

(subrp 'message)            ; @r{@code{message} is a symbol,}
     @result{} nil                 ;   @r{not a subr object.}
@end group
(subrp (symbol-function 'message))
     @result{} t
@end group
@end example
@end defun

@defun byte-code-function-p object
This function returns @code{t} if @var{object} is a byte-code
function.  For example:

(byte-code-function-p (symbol-function 'next-line))
     @result{} t
@end group
@end example
@end defun

@defun subr-arity subr
This function provides information about the argument list of a
primitive, @var{subr}.  The returned value is a pair
@code{(@var{min} . @var{max})}.  @var{min} is the minimum number of
args.  @var{max} is the maximum number or the symbol @code{many}, for a
function with @code{&rest} arguments, or the symbol @code{unevalled} if
@var{subr} is a special form.
@end defun

@node Lambda Expressions
@section Lambda Expressions
@cindex lambda expression

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  A lambda expression is a function object written in Lisp.  Here is
an example:
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(lambda (x)
  "Return the hyperbolic cosine of X."
  (* 0.5 (+ (exp x) (exp (- x)))))
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@end example

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In Emacs Lisp, such a list is valid as an expression---it evaluates to
itself.  But its main use is not to be evaluated as an expression, but
to be called as a function.

  A lambda expression, by itself, has no name; it is an @dfn{anonymous
function}.  Although lambda expressions can be used this way
(@pxref{Anonymous Functions}), they are more commonly associated with
symbols to make @dfn{named functions} (@pxref{Function Names}).
Before going into these details, the following subsections describe
the components of a lambda expression and what they do.
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* Lambda Components::       The parts of a lambda expression.
* Simple Lambda::           A simple example.
* Argument List::           Details and special features of argument lists.
* Function Documentation::  How to put documentation in a function.
@end menu

@node Lambda Components
@subsection Components of a Lambda Expression

  A lambda expression is a list that looks like this:
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(lambda (@var{arg-variables}@dots{})
@end example

@cindex lambda list
  The first element of a lambda expression is always the symbol
@code{lambda}.  This indicates that the list represents a function.  The
reason functions are defined to start with @code{lambda} is so that
other lists, intended for other uses, will not accidentally be valid as

  The second element is a list of symbols---the argument variable names.
This is called the @dfn{lambda list}.  When a Lisp function is called,
the argument values are matched up against the variables in the lambda
list, which are given local bindings with the values provided.
@xref{Local Variables}.

  The documentation string is a Lisp string object placed within the
function definition to describe the function for the Emacs help
facilities.  @xref{Function Documentation}.

  The interactive declaration is a list of the form @code{(interactive
@var{code-string})}.  This declares how to provide arguments if the
function is used interactively.  Functions with this declaration are called
@dfn{commands}; they can be called using @kbd{M-x} or bound to a key.
Functions not intended to be called in this way should not have interactive
declarations.  @xref{Defining Commands}, for how to write an interactive

@cindex body of function
  The rest of the elements are the @dfn{body} of the function: the Lisp
code to do the work of the function (or, as a Lisp programmer would say,
``a list of Lisp forms to evaluate'').  The value returned by the
function is the value returned by the last element of the body.

@node Simple Lambda
@subsection A Simple Lambda Expression Example
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  Consider the following example:
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(lambda (a b c) (+ a b c))
@end example

We can call this function by passing it to @code{funcall}, like this:
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(funcall (lambda (a b c) (+ a b c))
         1 2 3)
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@end group
@end example

This call evaluates the body of the lambda expression  with the variable
@code{a} bound to 1, @code{b} bound to 2, and @code{c} bound to 3.
Evaluation of the body adds these three numbers, producing the result 6;
therefore, this call to the function returns the value 6.

  Note that the arguments can be the results of other function calls, as in
this example:

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(funcall (lambda (a b c) (+ a b c))
         1 (* 2 3) (- 5 4))
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@end group
@end example

This evaluates the arguments @code{1}, @code{(* 2 3)}, and @code{(- 5
4)} from left to right.  Then it applies the lambda expression to the
argument values 1, 6 and 1 to produce the value 8.

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  As these examples show, you can use a form with a lambda expression
as its @sc{car} to make local variables and give them values.  In the
old days of Lisp, this technique was the only way to bind and
initialize local variables.  But nowadays, it is clearer to use the
special form @code{let} for this purpose (@pxref{Local Variables}).
Lambda expressions are mainly used as anonymous functions for passing
as arguments to other functions (@pxref{Anonymous Functions}), or
stored as symbol function definitions to produce named functions
(@pxref{Function Names}).
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@node Argument List
@subsection Other Features of Argument Lists
@kindex wrong-number-of-arguments
@cindex argument binding
@cindex binding arguments
@cindex argument lists, features

  Our simple sample function, @code{(lambda (a b c) (+ a b c))},
specifies three argument variables, so it must be called with three
arguments: if you try to call it with only two arguments or four
arguments, you get a @code{wrong-number-of-arguments} error.

  It is often convenient to write a function that allows certain
arguments to be omitted.  For example, the function @code{substring}
accepts three arguments---a string, the start index and the end
index---but the third argument defaults to the @var{length} of the
string if you omit it.  It is also convenient for certain functions to
accept an indefinite number of arguments, as the functions @code{list}
and @code{+} do.

@cindex optional arguments
@cindex rest arguments
@kindex &optional
@kindex &rest
  To specify optional arguments that may be omitted when a function
is called, simply include the keyword @code{&optional} before the optional
arguments.  To specify a list of zero or more extra arguments, include the
keyword @code{&rest} before one final argument.

  Thus, the complete syntax for an argument list is as follows:

 @r{[}&optional @var{optional-vars}@dots{}@r{]}
 @r{[}&rest @var{rest-var}@r{]})
@end group
@end example

The square brackets indicate that the @code{&optional} and @code{&rest}
clauses, and the variables that follow them, are optional.

  A call to the function requires one actual argument for each of the
@var{required-vars}.  There may be actual arguments for zero or more of
the @var{optional-vars}, and there cannot be any actual arguments beyond
that unless the lambda list uses @code{&rest}.  In that case, there may
be any number of extra actual arguments.

  If actual arguments for the optional and rest variables are omitted,
then they always default to @code{nil}.  There is no way for the
function to distinguish between an explicit argument of @code{nil} and
an omitted argument.  However, the body of the function is free to
consider @code{nil} an abbreviation for some other meaningful value.
This is what @code{substring} does; @code{nil} as the third argument to
@code{substring} means to use the length of the string supplied.

@cindex CL note---default optional arg
@b{Common Lisp note:} Common Lisp allows the function to specify what
default value to use when an optional argument is omitted; Emacs Lisp
always uses @code{nil}.  Emacs Lisp does not support ``supplied-p''
variables that tell you whether an argument was explicitly passed.
@end quotation

  For example, an argument list that looks like this:

(a b &optional c d &rest e)
@end example

binds @code{a} and @code{b} to the first two actual arguments, which are
required.  If one or two more arguments are provided, @code{c} and
@code{d} are bound to them respectively; any arguments after the first
four are collected into a list and @code{e} is bound to that list.  If
there are only two arguments, @code{c} is @code{nil}; if two or three
arguments, @code{d} is @code{nil}; if four arguments or fewer, @code{e}
is @code{nil}.

  There is no way to have required arguments following optional
ones---it would not make sense.  To see why this must be so, suppose
that @code{c} in the example were optional and @code{d} were required.
Suppose three actual arguments are given; which variable would the
third argument be for?  Would it be used for the @var{c}, or for
@var{d}?  One can argue for both possibilities.  Similarly, it makes
no sense to have any more arguments (either required or optional)
after a @code{&rest} argument.

  Here are some examples of argument lists and proper calls:

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(funcall (lambda (n) (1+ n))        ; @r{One required:}
         1)                         ; @r{requires exactly one argument.}
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     @result{} 2
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(funcall (lambda (n &optional n1)   ; @r{One required and one optional:}
           (if n1 (+ n n1) (1+ n))) ; @r{1 or 2 arguments.}
         1 2)
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     @result{} 3
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(funcall (lambda (n &rest ns)       ; @r{One required and one rest:}
           (+ n (apply '+ ns)))     ; @r{1 or more arguments.}
         1 2 3 4 5)
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     @result{} 15
@end example
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@node Function Documentation
@subsection Documentation Strings of Functions
@cindex documentation of function

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  A lambda expression may optionally have a @dfn{documentation string}
just after the lambda list.  This string does not affect execution of
the function; it is a kind of comment, but a systematized comment
which actually appears inside the Lisp world and can be used by the
Emacs help facilities.  @xref{Documentation}, for how the
documentation string is accessed.
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  It is a good idea to provide documentation strings for all the
functions in your program, even those that are called only from within
your program.  Documentation strings are like comments, except that they
are easier to access.

  The first line of the documentation string should stand on its own,
because @code{apropos} displays just this first line.  It should consist
of one or two complete sentences that summarize the function's purpose.

  The start of the documentation string is usually indented in the
source file, but since these spaces come before the starting
double-quote, they are not part of the string.  Some people make a
practice of indenting any additional lines of the string so that the
text lines up in the program source.  @emph{That is a mistake.}  The
indentation of the following lines is inside the string; what looks
nice in the source code will look ugly when displayed by the help

  You may wonder how the documentation string could be optional, since
there are required components of the function that follow it (the body).
Since evaluation of a string returns that string, without any side effects,
it has no effect if it is not the last form in the body.  Thus, in
practice, there is no confusion between the first form of the body and the
documentation string; if the only body form is a string then it serves both
as the return value and as the documentation.

  The last line of the documentation string can specify calling
conventions different from the actual function arguments.  Write
text like this:

\(fn @var{arglist})
@end example

following a blank line, at the beginning of the line, with no newline
following it inside the documentation string.  (The @samp{\} is used
to avoid confusing the Emacs motion commands.)  The calling convention
specified in this way appears in help messages in place of the one
derived from the actual arguments of the function.

  This feature is particularly useful for macro definitions, since the
arguments written in a macro definition often do not correspond to the
way users think of the parts of the macro call.

@node Function Names
@section Naming a Function
@cindex function definition
@cindex named function
@cindex function name

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  A symbol can serve as the name of a function.  This happens when the
symbol's @dfn{function cell} (@pxref{Symbol Components}) contains a
function object (e.g.@: a lambda expression).  Then the symbol itself
becomes a valid, callable function, equivalent to the function object
in its function cell.

  The contents of the function cell are also called the symbol's
@dfn{function definition}.  The procedure of using a symbol's function
definition in place of the symbol is called @dfn{symbol function
indirection}; see @ref{Function Indirection}.  If you have not given a
symbol a function definition, its function cell is said to be
@dfn{void}, and it cannot be used as a function.

  In practice, nearly all functions have names, and are referred to by
their names.  You can create a named Lisp function by defining a
lambda expression and putting it in a function cell (@pxref{Function
Cells}).  However, it is more common to use the @code{defun} special
form, described in the next section.
@xref{Defining Functions}.
@end ifnottex
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  We give functions names because it is convenient to refer to them by
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their names in Lisp expressions.  Also, a named Lisp function can
easily refer to itself---it can be recursive.  Furthermore, primitives
can only be referred to textually by their names, since primitive
function objects (@pxref{Primitive Function Type}) have no read

  A function need not have a unique name.  A given function object
@emph{usually} appears in the function cell of only one symbol, but
this is just a convention.  It is easy to store it in several symbols
using @code{fset}; then each of the symbols is a valid name for the
same function.

  Note that a symbol used as a function name may also be used as a
variable; these two uses of a symbol are independent and do not
conflict.  (This is not the case in some dialects of Lisp, like
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@node Defining Functions
@section Defining Functions
@cindex defining a function

  We usually give a name to a function when it is first created.  This
is called @dfn{defining a function}, and it is done with the
@code{defun} special form.

@defspec defun name argument-list body-forms...
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@code{defun} is the usual way to define new Lisp functions.  It
defines the symbol @var{name} as a function that looks like this:

(lambda @var{argument-list} . @var{body-forms})
@end example

@code{defun} stores this lambda expression in the function cell of
@var{name}.  It returns the value @var{name}, but usually we ignore this

As described previously, @var{argument-list} is a list of argument
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names and may include the keywords @code{&optional} and @code{&rest}.
Also, the first two of the @var{body-forms} may be a documentation
string and an interactive declaration.  @xref{Lambda Components}.
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Here are some examples:

(defun foo () 5)
     @result{} foo
@end group
     @result{} 5
@end group

(defun bar (a &optional b &rest c)
    (list a b c))
     @result{} bar
@end group
(bar 1 2 3 4 5)
     @result{} (1 2 (3 4 5))
@end group
(bar 1)
     @result{} (1 nil nil)
@end group
@error{} Wrong number of arguments.
@end group

(defun capitalize-backwards ()
  "Upcase the last letter of the word at point."
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  (backward-word 1)
  (forward-word 1)
  (backward-char 1)
  (capitalize-word 1))
     @result{} capitalize-backwards
@end group
@end example

Be careful not to redefine existing functions unintentionally.
@code{defun} redefines even primitive functions such as @code{car}
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without any hesitation or notification.  Emacs does not prevent you
from doing this, because redefining a function is sometimes done
deliberately, and there is no way to distinguish deliberate
redefinition from unintentional redefinition.
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@end defspec

@cindex function aliases
@defun defalias name definition &optional docstring
@anchor{Definition of defalias}
This special form defines the symbol @var{name} as a function, with
definition @var{definition} (which can be any valid Lisp function).
It returns @var{definition}.

If @var{docstring} is non-@code{nil}, it becomes the function
documentation of @var{name}.  Otherwise, any documentation provided by
@var{definition} is used.

The proper place to use @code{defalias} is where a specific function
name is being defined---especially where that name appears explicitly in
the source file being loaded.  This is because @code{defalias} records
which file defined the function, just like @code{defun}

By contrast, in programs that manipulate function definitions for other
purposes, it is better to use @code{fset}, which does not keep such
records.  @xref{Function Cells}.
@end defun

  You cannot create a new primitive function with @code{defun} or
@code{defalias}, but you can use them to change the function definition of
any symbol, even one such as @code{car} or @code{x-popup-menu} whose
normal definition is a primitive.  However, this is risky: for
instance, it is next to impossible to redefine @code{car} without
breaking Lisp completely.  Redefining an obscure function such as
@code{x-popup-menu} is less dangerous, but it still may not work as
you expect.  If there are calls to the primitive from C code, they
call the primitive's C definition directly, so changing the symbol's
definition will have no effect on them.

  See also @code{defsubst}, which defines a function like @code{defun}
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and tells the Lisp compiler to perform inline expansion on it.
@xref{Inline Functions}.
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@node Calling Functions
@section Calling Functions
@cindex function invocation
@cindex calling a function

  Defining functions is only half the battle.  Functions don't do
anything until you @dfn{call} them, i.e., tell them to run.  Calling a
function is also known as @dfn{invocation}.

  The most common way of invoking a function is by evaluating a list.
For example, evaluating the list @code{(concat "a" "b")} calls the
function @code{concat} with arguments @code{"a"} and @code{"b"}.
@xref{Evaluation}, for a description of evaluation.

  When you write a list as an expression in your program, you specify
which function to call, and how many arguments to give it, in the text
of the program.  Usually that's just what you want.  Occasionally you
need to compute at run time which function to call.  To do that, use
the function @code{funcall}.  When you also need to determine at run
time how many arguments to pass, use @code{apply}.

@defun funcall function &rest arguments
@code{funcall} calls @var{function} with @var{arguments}, and returns
whatever @var{function} returns.

Since @code{funcall} is a function, all of its arguments, including
@var{function}, are evaluated before @code{funcall} is called.  This
means that you can use any expression to obtain the function to be
called.  It also means that @code{funcall} does not see the
expressions you write for the @var{arguments}, only their values.
These values are @emph{not} evaluated a second time in the act of
calling @var{function}; the operation of @code{funcall} is like the
normal procedure for calling a function, once its arguments have
already been evaluated.

The argument @var{function} must be either a Lisp function or a
primitive function.  Special forms and macros are not allowed, because
they make sense only when given the ``unevaluated'' argument
expressions.  @code{funcall} cannot provide these because, as we saw
above, it never knows them in the first place.

(setq f 'list)
     @result{} list
@end group
(funcall f 'x 'y 'z)
     @result{} (x y z)
@end group
(funcall f 'x 'y '(z))
     @result{} (x y (z))
@end group
(funcall 'and t nil)
@error{} Invalid function: #<subr and>
@end group
@end example

Compare these examples with the examples of @code{apply}.
@end defun

@defun apply function &rest arguments
@code{apply} calls @var{function} with @var{arguments}, just like
@code{funcall} but with one difference: the last of @var{arguments} is a
list of objects, which are passed to @var{function} as separate
arguments, rather than a single list.  We say that @code{apply}
@dfn{spreads} this list so that each individual element becomes an

@code{apply} returns the result of calling @var{function}.  As with
@code{funcall}, @var{function} must either be a Lisp function or a
primitive function; special forms and macros do not make sense in

(setq f 'list)
     @result{} list
@end group
(apply f 'x 'y 'z)
@error{} Wrong type argument: listp, z
@end group
(apply '+ 1 2 '(3 4))
     @result{} 10
@end group
(apply '+ '(1 2 3 4))
     @result{} 10
@end group

(apply 'append '((a b c) nil (x y z) nil))
     @result{} (a b c x y z)
@end group
@end example

For an interesting example of using @code{apply}, see @ref{Definition
of mapcar}.
@end defun

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@cindex partial application of functions
@cindex currying
  Sometimes it is useful to fix some of the function's arguments at
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certain values, and leave the rest of arguments for when the function
is actually called.  The act of fixing some of the function's
arguments is called @dfn{partial application} of the function@footnote{
This is related to, but different from @dfn{currying}, which
transforms a function that takes multiple arguments in such a way that
it can be called as a chain of functions, each one with a single
The result is a new function that accepts the rest of
arguments and calls the original function with all the arguments
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  Here's how to do partial application in Emacs Lisp:
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@defun apply-partially func &rest args
This function returns a new function which, when called, will call
@var{func} with the list of arguments composed from @var{args} and
additional arguments specified at the time of the call.  If @var{func}
accepts @var{n} arguments, then a call to @code{apply-partially} with
@w{@code{@var{m} < @var{n}}} arguments will produce a new function of
@w{@code{@var{n} - @var{m}}} arguments.

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Here's how we could define the built-in function @code{1+}, if it
didn't exist, using @code{apply-partially} and @code{+}, another
built-in function:
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(defalias '1+ (apply-partially '+ 1)
  "Increment argument by one.")
@end group
(1+ 10)
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     @result{} 11
@end group
@end example
@end defun

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@cindex functionals
  It is common for Lisp functions to accept functions as arguments or
find them in data structures (especially in hook variables and property
lists) and call them using @code{funcall} or @code{apply}.  Functions
that accept function arguments are often called @dfn{functionals}.

  Sometimes, when you call a functional, it is useful to supply a no-op
function as the argument.  Here are two different kinds of no-op

@defun identity arg
This function returns @var{arg} and has no side effects.
@end defun

@defun ignore &rest args
This function ignores any arguments and returns @code{nil}.
@end defun

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  Some functions are user-visible @dfn{commands}, which can be called
interactively (usually by a key sequence).  It is possible to invoke
such a command exactly as though it was called interactively, by using
the @code{call-interactively} function.  @xref{Interactive Call}.

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@node Mapping Functions
@section Mapping Functions
@cindex mapping functions

  A @dfn{mapping function} applies a given function (@emph{not} a
special form or macro) to each element of a list or other collection.
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Emacs Lisp has several such functions; this section describes
@code{mapcar}, @code{mapc}, and @code{mapconcat}, which map over a
list.  @xref{Definition of mapatoms}, for the function @code{mapatoms}
which maps over the symbols in an obarray.  @xref{Definition of
maphash}, for the function @code{maphash} which maps over key/value
associations in a hash table.
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  These mapping functions do not allow char-tables because a char-table
is a sparse array whose nominal range of indices is very large.  To map
over a char-table in a way that deals properly with its sparse nature,
use the function @code{map-char-table} (@pxref{Char-Tables}).

@defun mapcar function sequence
@anchor{Definition of mapcar}
@code{mapcar} applies @var{function} to each element of @var{sequence}
in turn, and returns a list of the results.

The argument @var{sequence} can be any kind of sequence except a
char-table; that is, a list, a vector, a bool-vector, or a string.  The
result is always a list.  The length of the result is the same as the
length of @var{sequence}.  For example:

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(mapcar 'car '((a b) (c d) (e f)))
     @result{} (a c e)
(mapcar '1+ [1 2 3])
     @result{} (2 3 4)
(mapcar 'string "abc")
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     @result{} ("a" "b" "c")
@end group

;; @r{Call each function in @code{my-hooks}.}
(mapcar 'funcall my-hooks)
@end group

(defun mapcar* (function &rest args)
  "Apply FUNCTION to successive cars of all ARGS.
Return the list of results."
  ;; @r{If no list is exhausted,}
  (if (not (memq nil args))
      ;; @r{apply function to @sc{car}s.}
      (cons (apply function (mapcar 'car args))
            (apply 'mapcar* function
                   ;; @r{Recurse for rest of elements.}
                   (mapcar 'cdr args)))))
@end group

(mapcar* 'cons '(a b c) '(1 2 3 4))
     @result{} ((a . 1) (b . 2) (c . 3))
@end group
@end example
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@end defun

@defun mapc function sequence
@code{mapc} is like @code{mapcar} except that @var{function} is used for
side-effects only---the values it returns are ignored, not collected
into a list.  @code{mapc} always returns @var{sequence}.
@end defun

@defun mapconcat function sequence separator
@code{mapconcat} applies @var{function} to each element of
@var{sequence}: the results, which must be strings, are concatenated.
Between each pair of result strings, @code{mapconcat} inserts the string
@var{separator}.  Usually @var{separator} contains a space or comma or
other suitable punctuation.

The argument @var{function} must be a function that can take one
argument and return a string.  The argument @var{sequence} can be any
kind of sequence except a char-table; that is, a list, a vector, a
bool-vector, or a string.

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(mapconcat 'symbol-name
           '(The cat in the hat)
           " ")
     @result{} "The cat in the hat"
@end group

(mapconcat (function (lambda (x) (format "%c" (1+ x))))
     @result{} "IBM.9111"
@end group
@end example
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@end defun

@node Anonymous Functions
@section Anonymous Functions
@cindex anonymous function

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  Although functions are usually defined with @code{defun} and given
names at the same time, it is sometimes convenient to use an explicit
lambda expression---an @dfn{anonymous function}.  Anonymous functions
are valid wherever function names are.  They are often assigned as
variable values, or as arguments to functions; for instance, you might
pass one as the @var{function} argument to @code{mapcar}, which
applies that function to each element of a list (@pxref{Mapping
Functions}).  @xref{describe-symbols example}, for a realistic example
of this.

  When defining a lambda expression that is to be used as an anonymous
function, you can in principle use any method to construct the list.
But typically you should use the @code{lambda} macro, or the
@code{function} special form, or the @code{#'} read syntax:

@defmac lambda args body...
This macro returns an anonymous function with argument list @var{args}
and body forms given by @var{body}.  In effect, this macro makes
@code{lambda} forms ``self-quoting'': evaluating a form whose @sc{car}
is @code{lambda} yields the form itself:
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(lambda (x) (* x x))
     @result{} (lambda (x) (* x x))
@end example
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The @code{lambda} form has one other effect: it tells the Emacs
evaluator and byte-compiler that its argument is a function, by using
@code{function} as a subroutine (see below).
@end defmac
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@defspec function function-object
@cindex function quoting
This special form returns @var{function-object} without evaluating it.
In this, it is similar to @code{quote} (@pxref{Quoting}).  But unlike
@code{quote}, it also serves as a note to the Emacs evaluator and
byte-compiler that @var{function-object} is intended to be used as a
function.  Assuming @var{function-object} is a valid lambda
expression, this has two effects:
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When the code is byte-compiled, @var{function-object} is compiled into
a byte-code function object (@pxref{Byte Compilation}).
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When lexical binding is enabled, @var{function-object} is converted
into a closure.  @xref{Closures}.
@end itemize
@end defspec
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@cindex @samp{#'} syntax
The read syntax @code{#'} is a short-hand for using @code{function}.
The following forms are all equivalent:
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(lambda (x) (* x x))
(function (lambda (x) (* x x)))
#'(lambda (x) (* x x))
@end example
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  In the following example, we define a @code{change-property}
function that takes a function as its third argument, followed by a
@code{double-property} function that makes use of
@code{change-property} by passing it an anonymous function:
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(defun change-property (symbol prop function)
  (let ((value (get symbol prop)))
    (put symbol prop (funcall function value))))
@end group

(defun double-property (symbol prop)
  (change-property symbol prop (lambda (x) (* 2 x))))
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@end group
@end example

Note that we do not quote the @code{lambda} form.
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  If you compile the above code, the anonymous function is also
compiled.  This would not happen if, say, you had constructed the
anonymous function by quoting it as a list:
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(defun double-property (symbol prop)
  (change-property symbol prop '(lambda (x) (* 2 x))))
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@end group
@end example

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In that case, the anonymous function is kept as a lambda expression in
the compiled code.  The byte-compiler cannot assume this list is a
function, even though it looks like one, since it does not know that
@code{change-property} intends to use it as a function.
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@node Function Cells
@section Accessing Function Cell Contents

  The @dfn{function definition} of a symbol is the object stored in the
function cell of the symbol.  The functions described here access, test,
and set the function cell of symbols.

  See also the function @code{indirect-function}.  @xref{Definition of

@defun symbol-function symbol
@kindex void-function
This returns the object in the function cell of @var{symbol}.  If the
symbol's function cell is void, a @code{void-function} error is

This function does not check that the returned object is a legitimate

(defun bar (n) (+ n 2))
     @result{} bar
@end group
(symbol-function 'bar)
     @result{} (lambda (n) (+ n 2))
@end group
(fset 'baz 'bar)
     @result{} bar
@end group
(symbol-function 'baz)
     @result{} bar
@end group
@end example
@end defun

@cindex void function cell
  If you have never given a symbol any function definition, we say that
that symbol's function cell is @dfn{void}.  In other words, the function
cell does not have any Lisp object in it.  If you try to call such a symbol
as a function, it signals a @code{void-function} error.

  Note that void is not the same as @code{nil} or the symbol
@code{void}.  The symbols @code{nil} and @code{void} are Lisp objects,
and can be stored into a function cell just as any other object can be
(and they can be valid functions if you define them in turn with
@code{defun}).  A void function cell contains no object whatsoever.

  You can test the voidness of a symbol's function definition with
@code{fboundp}.  After you have given a symbol a function definition, you
can make it void once more using @code{fmakunbound}.

@defun fboundp symbol
This function returns @code{t} if the symbol has an object in its
function cell, @code{nil} otherwise.  It does not check that the object
is a legitimate function.
@end defun

@defun fmakunbound symbol
This function makes @var{symbol}'s function cell void, so that a
subsequent attempt to access this cell will cause a
@code{void-function} error.  It returns @var{symbol}.  (See also
@code{makunbound}, in @ref{Void Variables}.)

(defun foo (x) x)
     @result{} foo
@end group
(foo 1)
@end group
(fmakunbound 'foo)
     @result{} foo
@end group
(foo 1)
@error{} Symbol's function definition is void: foo
@end group
@end example
@end defun

@defun fset symbol definition
This function stores @var{definition} in the function cell of
@var{symbol}.  The result is @var{definition}.  Normally
@var{definition} should be a function or the name of a function, but
this is not checked.  The argument @var{symbol} is an ordinary evaluated

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The primary use of this function is as a subroutine by constructs that
define or alter functions, like @code{defadvice} (@pxref{Advising
Functions}).  (If @code{defun} were not a primitive, it could be
written as a Lisp macro using @code{fset}.)  You can also use it to
give a symbol a function definition that is not a list, e.g.@: a
keyboard macro (@pxref{Keyboard Macros}):
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;; @r{Define a named keyboard macro.}
(fset 'kill-two-lines "\^u2\^k")
     @result{} "\^u2\^k"
@end example
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It you wish to use @code{fset} to make an alternate name for a
function, consider using @code{defalias} instead.  @xref{Definition of
@end defun
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@node Closures
@section Closures
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  As explained in @ref{Variable Scoping}, Emacs can optionally enable
lexical binding of variables.  When lexical binding is enabled, any
named function that you create (e.g.@: with @code{defun}), as well as
any anonymous function that you create using the @code{lambda} macro
or the @code{function} special form or the @code{#'} syntax
(@pxref{Anonymous Functions}), is automatically converted into a
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  A closure is a function that also carries a record of the lexical
environment that existed when the function was defined.  When it is
invoked, any lexical variable references within its definition use the
retained lexical environment.  In all other respects, closures behave
much like ordinary functions; in particular, they can be called in the
same way as ordinary functions.
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  @xref{Lexical Binding}, for an example of using a closure.
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  Currently, an Emacs Lisp closure object is represented by a list
with the symbol @code{closure} as the first element, a list
representing the lexical environment as the second element, and the
argument list and body forms as the remaining elements:
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;; @r{lexical binding is enabled.}
(lambda (x) (* x x))
     @result{} (closure (t) (x) (* x x))
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@end example

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However, the fact that the internal structure of a closure is
``exposed'' to the rest of the Lisp world is considered an internal
implementation detail.  For this reason, we recommend against directly
examining or altering the structure of closure objects.
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@node Obsolete Functions
@section Declaring Functions Obsolete

You can use @code{make-obsolete} to declare a function obsolete.  This
indicates that the function may be removed at some stage in the future.

@defun make-obsolete obsolete-name current-name &optional when
This function makes the byte compiler warn that the function
@var{obsolete-name} is obsolete.  If @var{current-name} is a symbol, the
warning message says to use @var{current-name} instead of
@var{obsolete-name}.  @var{current-name} does not need to be an alias for
@var{obsolete-name}; it can be a different function with similar
functionality.  If @var{current-name} is a string, it is the warning

If provided, @var{when} should be a string indicating when the function
was first made obsolete---for example, a date or a release number.
@end defun

You can define a function as an alias and declare it obsolete at the
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same time using the macro @code{define-obsolete-function-alias}:
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@defmac define-obsolete-function-alias obsolete-name current-name &optional when docstring
This macro marks the function @var{obsolete-name} obsolete and also
defines it as an alias for the function @var{current-name}.  It is
equivalent to the following:

(defalias @var{obsolete-name} @var{current-name} @var{docstring})
(make-obsolete @var{obsolete-name} @var{current-name} @var{when})
@end example
@end defmac

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In addition, you can mark a certain a particular calling convention
for a function as obsolete:

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@defun set-advertised-calling-convention function signature when
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This function specifies the argument list @var{signature} as the
correct way to call @var{function}.  This causes the Emacs byte
compiler to issue a warning whenever it comes across an Emacs Lisp
program that calls @var{function} any other way (however, it will
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still allow the code to be byte compiled).  @var{when} should be a
string indicating when the variable was first made obsolete (usually a
version number string).
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For instance, in old versions of Emacs the @code{sit-for} function
accepted three arguments, like this

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  (sit-for seconds milliseconds nodisp)
@end example
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However, calling @code{sit-for} this way is considered obsolete
(@pxref{Waiting}).  The old calling convention is deprecated like

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  'sit-for '(seconds &optional nodisp) "22.1")
@end example
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@end defun

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@node Inline Functions
@section Inline Functions
@cindex inline functions

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@defmac defsubst name argument-list body-forms...
Define an inline function.  The syntax is exactly the same as
@code{defun} (@pxref{Defining Functions}).
@end defmac

  You can define an @dfn{inline function} by using @code{defsubst}
instead of @code{defun}.  An inline function works just like an
ordinary function except for one thing: when you byte-compile a call
to the function (@pxref{Byte Compilation}), the function's definition
is expanded into the caller.
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  Making a function inline often makes its function calls run faster.
But it also has disadvantages.  For one thing, it reduces flexibility;
if you change the definition of the function, calls already inlined
still use the old definition until you recompile them.
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  Another disadvantage is that making a large function inline can
increase the size of compiled code both in files and in memory.  Since
the speed advantage of inline functions is greatest for small
functions, you generally should not make large functions inline.
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  Also, inline functions do not behave well with respect to debugging,
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tracing, and advising (@pxref{Advising Functions}).  Since ease of
debugging and the flexibility of redefining functions are important
features of Emacs, you should not make a function inline, even if it's
small, unless its speed is really crucial, and you've timed the code
to verify that using @code{defun} actually has performance problems.

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  It's possible to define a macro to expand into the same code that an
inline function would execute (@pxref{Macros}).  But the macro would
be limited to direct use in expressions---a macro cannot be called
with @code{apply}, @code{mapcar} and so on.  Also, it takes some work
to convert an ordinary function into a macro.  To convert it into an
inline function is easy; just replace @code{defun} with
@code{defsubst}.  Since each argument of an inline function is
evaluated exactly once, you needn't worry about how many times the
body uses the arguments, as you do for macros.
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  After an inline function is defined, its inline expansion can be
performed later on in the same file, just like macros.
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@node Declaring Functions
@section Telling the Compiler that a Function is Defined
@cindex function declaration
@cindex declaring functions
@findex declare-function

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Byte-compiling a file often produces warnings about functions that the
compiler doesn't know about (@pxref{Compiler Errors}).  Sometimes this
indicates a real problem, but usually the functions in question are
defined in other files which would be loaded if that code is run.  For
example, byte-compiling @file{fortran.el} used to warn:

In end of data:
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fortran.el:2152:1:Warning: the function `gud-find-c-expr' is not known
    to be defined.
@end example

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In fact, @code{gud-find-c-expr} is only used in the function that
Fortran mode uses for the local value of
@code{gud-find-expr-function}, which is a callback from GUD; if it is
called, the GUD functions will be loaded.  When you know that such a
warning does not indicate a real problem, it is good to suppress the
warning.  That makes new warnings which might mean real problems more
visible.  You do that with @code{declare-function}.
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All you need to do is add a @code{declare-function} statement before the
first use of the function in question:

(declare-function gud-find-c-expr "gud.el" nil)
@end example
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This says that @code{gud-find-c-expr} is defined in @file{gud.el} (the
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@samp{.el} can be omitted).  The compiler takes for granted that that file
really defines the function, and does not check.

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  The optional third argument specifies the argument list of
@code{gud-find-c-expr}.  In this case, it takes no arguments
(@code{nil} is different from not specifying a value).  In other
cases, this might be something like @code{(file &optional overwrite)}.
You don't have to specify the argument list, but if you do the
byte compiler can check that the calls match the declaration.

@defmac declare-function function file &optional arglist fileonly
Tell the byte compiler to assume that @var{function} is defined, with
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arguments @var{arglist}, and that the definition should come from the
file @var{file}.  @var{fileonly} non-@code{nil} means only check that
@var{file} exists, not that it actually defines @var{function}.
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@end defmac

  To verify that these functions really are declared where
@code{declare-function} says they are, use @code{check-declare-file}
to check all @code{declare-function} calls in one source file, or use
@code{check-declare-directory} check all the files in and under a
certain directory.

  These commands find the file that ought to contain a function's
definition using @code{locate-library}; if that finds no file, they
expand the definition file name relative to the directory of the file
that contains the @code{declare-function} call.

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  You can also say that a function is a primitive by specifying a file
name ending in @samp{.c} or @samp{.m}.  This is useful only when you
call a primitive that is defined only on certain systems.  Most
primitives are always defined, so they will never give you a warning.

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  Sometimes a file will optionally use functions from an external package.
If you prefix the filename in the @code{declare-function} statement with
@samp{ext:}, then it will be checked if it is found, otherwise skipped
without error.

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  There are some function definitions that @samp{check-declare} does not
understand (e.g. @code{defstruct} and some other macros).  In such cases,
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you can pass a non-@code{nil} @var{fileonly} argument to
@code{declare-function}, meaning to only check that the file exists, not
that it actually defines the function.  Note that to do this without
having to specify an argument list, you should set the @var{arglist}
argument to @code{t} (because @code{nil} means an empty argument list, as
opposed to an unspecified one).

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@node Function Safety
@section Determining whether a Function is Safe to Call
@cindex function safety
@cindex safety of functions

Some major modes such as SES call functions that are stored in user
files.  (@inforef{Top, ,ses}, for more information on SES.)  User
files sometimes have poor pedigrees---you can get a spreadsheet from
someone you've just met, or you can get one through email from someone
you've never met.  So it is risky to call a function whose source code
is stored in a user file until you have determined that it is safe.

@defun unsafep form &optional unsafep-vars
Returns @code{nil} if @var{form} is a @dfn{safe} Lisp expression, or
returns a list that describes why it might be unsafe.  The argument
@var{unsafep-vars} is a list of symbols known to have temporary
bindings at this point; it is mainly used for internal recursive
calls.  The current buffer is an implicit argument, which provides a
list of buffer-local bindings.
@end defun

Being quick and simple, @code{unsafep} does a very light analysis and
rejects many Lisp expressions that are actually safe.  There are no
known cases where @code{unsafep} returns @code{nil} for an unsafe
expression.  However, a ``safe'' Lisp expression can return a string
with a @code{display} property, containing an associated Lisp
expression to be executed after the string is inserted into a buffer.
This associated expression can be a virus.  In order to be safe, you
must delete properties from all strings calculated by user code before
inserting them into buffers.

What is a safe Lisp expression?  Basically, it's an expression that
calls only built-in functions with no side effects (or only innocuous
ones).  Innocuous side effects include displaying messages and
altering non-risky buffer-local variables (but not global variables).

@table @dfn
@item Safe expression
An atom or quoted thing.
A call to a safe function (see below), if all its arguments are
safe expressions.
One of the special forms @code{and}, @code{catch}, @code{cond},
@code{if}, @code{or}, @code{prog1}, @code{prog2}, @code{progn},
@code{while}, and @code{unwind-protect}], if all its arguments are
A form that creates temporary bindings (@code{condition-case},
@code{dolist}, @code{dotimes}, @code{lambda}, @code{let}, or
@code{let*}), if all args are safe and the symbols to be bound are not
explicitly risky (see @pxref{File Local Variables}).
An assignment using @code{add-to-list}, @code{setq}, @code{push}, or
@code{pop}, if all args are safe and the symbols to be assigned are
not explicitly risky and they already have temporary or buffer-local
One of [apply, mapc, mapcar, mapconcat] if the first argument is a
safe explicit lambda and the other args are safe expressions.
@end itemize

@item Safe function
A lambda containing safe expressions.
A symbol on the list @code{safe-functions}, so the user says it's safe.
A symbol with a non-@code{nil} @code{side-effect-free} property.
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A symbol with a non-@code{nil} @code{safe-function} property.  The
value @code{t} indicates a function that is safe but has innocuous
side effects.  Other values will someday indicate functions with
classes of side effects that are not always safe.
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@end itemize

The @code{side-effect-free} and @code{safe-function} properties are
provided for built-in functions and for low-level functions and macros
defined in @file{subr.el}.  You can assign these properties for the
functions you write.
@end table
@end ignore

@node Related Topics
@section Other Topics Related to Functions

  Here is a table of several functions that do things related to
function calling and function definitions.  They are documented
elsewhere, but we provide cross references here.

@table @code
@item apply
See @ref{Calling Functions}.

@item autoload
See @ref{Autoload}.

@item call-interactively
See @ref{Interactive Call}.

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@item called-interactively-p
See @ref{Distinguish Interactive}.

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@item commandp
See @ref{Interactive Call}.

@item documentation
See @ref{Accessing Documentation}.

@item eval
See @ref{Eval}.

@item funcall
See @ref{Calling Functions}.

@item function
See @ref{Anonymous Functions}.

@item ignore
See @ref{Calling Functions}.

@item indirect-function
See @ref{Function Indirection}.

@item interactive
See @ref{Using Interactive}.

@item interactive-p
See @ref{Distinguish Interactive}.
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@item mapatoms
See @ref{Creating Symbols}.

@item mapcar
See @ref{Mapping Functions}.

@item map-char-table
See @ref{Char-Tables}.

@item mapconcat
See @ref{Mapping Functions}.

@item undefined
See @ref{Functions for Key Lookup}.
@end table