Procedure calls
When you compute an expression of the form
(, ..., )
the Python interpreter treats this as a procedure call. It will be simpler to talk about a speci?c case of invoking a function, so we will explain with the example
>>> square(a + 3)
computed in environment E1. Here are the steps:
1. The expression that determines the procedure () is computed. In this case, we compute
square in E1 and get Procedure1.
2. The expressions that determine the arguments (, ..., ) are computed. In this case, we compute a + 3 in E1 and get 5.
3. A new environment (in this case E2) is prepared, which:
- binds the formal parameters of the function (in this case x) to the values of its arguments(in this case, 5); and
- has as its base the environment in which the procedure was de?ned we ?nd a pointer .
The dotted line between E1 and E2 is used to show that E1 is the parent environmentof E2.
4. The statements of the procedure body are computed in the new environment until either a return statement or the end of the list of statements is got. If a result expression is calculated, the expression after the return is computed and its value is returned as the value of the function call expression. Otherwise, the function has no return value, and the expression has the unique Python value None.
In our example, the only statement in the body is a return statement. So, we compute the expression x * x in E2, obtaining a value of 25. That value is returned as the value of the entire procedure-call expression square(a + 3).
This basic mechanism can generate behavior of arbitrary hardness, when grouped with recursion or other control structures.