An identifier can name either a type of syntax or a location where a value can be stored. An identifier that names a type of syntax is called a syntactic keyword (informally called a macro), and is said to be bound to a transformer for that syntax. An identifier that names a location is called a variable and is said to be bound to that location. The set of all visible bindings in effect at some point in a program is known as the environment in effect at that point. The value stored in the location to which a variable is bound is called the variable’s value. By abuse of terminology, the variable is sometimes said to name the value or to be bound to the value. This is not quite accurate, but confusion rarely results from this practice.
Certain expression types are used to create new kinds of
syntax and to bind syntactic keywords to those new syntaxes,
while other expression types create new locations
and bind variables to those locations. These expression
types are called binding constructs.
Those that bind syntactic keywords are discussed in Macros.
The most fundamental of the variable binding constructs is the
because all other variable binding constructs
can be explained in terms of
Other binding constructs include the
Scheme is a language with block structure. To each place
where an identifier is bound in a program there corresponds
a region of the program text within which the binding is visible.
The region is determined by the particular binding construct that
establishes the binding; if the binding is
established by a
lambda expression, for example, then its
region is the entire
lambda expression. Every mention of
an identifier refers to the binding of the identifier that established
the innermost of the regions containing the use.
If there is no binding of the identifier whose region contains the use, then the use refers to the binding for the variable in the global environment, if any; if there is no binding for the identifier, it is said to be unbound.
The usual way to bind variables is to match an incoming value against a pattern. The pattern contains variables that are bound to some value derived from the value.
(! [x::double y::double] (some-expression))
In the above example, the pattern
is matched against the incoming value that results from
That value is required to be a two-element sequence.
Then the sub-pattern
x::double is matched against
element 0 of the sequence, which means it is coerced to a
and then the coerced value is matched against the sub-pattern
(which trivially succeeds). Similarly,
y::double is matched
against element 1.
The syntax of patterns is a work-in-progress. (The focus until now has been in designing and implementing how patterns work in general, rather than the details of the pattern syntax.)
boolean | number |
This is how the specific patterns work:
This is the simplest and most common form of pattern.
identifier is bound to a new variable
that is initialized to the incoming value.
This pattern just discards the incoming value.
It is equivalent to a unique otherwise-unused
Matches if the value is
equal? to the
Matches if the value is
equal? to the quoted
The incoming value is coerced to a value of the specified
and then the coerced value is matched against the sub-
Most commonly the sub-
pattern is a plain
so the latter match is trivial.
The incoming value must be a sequence (a list, vector or similar).
In the case where each sub-pattern is a plain
then the number of sub-patterns must match the size of the sequence, and
each sub-pattern is matched against the corresponding element of the sequence.
More generally, each sub-pattern may match zero or more consequtive
elements of the incoming sequence.
No incoming value is used. Instead the
expression is evaluated.
If the result is true, matching succeeds (so far);
otherwise the match fails.
This form is called a guard.