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Visibility Rules

Lua is a lexically scoped language. The scope of a local variable begins at the first statement after its declaration and lasts until the last non-void statement 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
       print(x)            --> 11
     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, or simply external 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

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.