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The Application Program Interface

This section describes the C API for Lua, that is, the set of C functions available to the host program to communicate with Lua. All API functions and related types and constants are declared in the header file [lua.h]{#pdf-lua.h}.

Even when we use the term "function", any facility in the API may be provided as a macro instead. Except where stated otherwise, all such macros use each of their arguments exactly once (except for the first argument, which is always a Lua state), and so do not generate any hidden side-effects.

As in most C libraries, the Lua API functions do not check their arguments for validity or consistency. However, you can change this behavior by compiling Lua with the macro [LUA_USE_APICHECK]{#pdf-LUA_USE_APICHECK} defined.

The Lua library is fully reentrant: it has no global variables. It keeps all information it needs in a dynamic structure, called the Lua state.

Each Lua state has one or more threads, which correspond to independent, cooperative lines of execution. The type lua_State (despite its name) refers to a thread. (Indirectly, through the thread, it also refers to the Lua state associated to the thread.)

A pointer to a thread must be passed as the first argument to every function in the library, except to lua_newstate, which creates a Lua state from scratch and returns a pointer to the main thread in the new state.