Doesn't JavaScript support closures with local variables? [duplicate]

I am very puzzled about this code:

var closures = [];
function create() {
  for (var i = 0; i < 5; i++) {
    closures[i] = function() {
      alert("i = " + i);
    };
  }
}

function run() {
  for (var i = 0; i < 5; i++) {
    closures[i]();
  }
}

create();
run();

From my understanding it should print 0,1,2,3,4 (isn't this the concept of closures?).

Instead it prints 5,5,5,5,5.

I tried Rhino and Firefox.

Could someone explain this behavior to me? Thx in advance.

Answers:

Answer

Fixed Jon's answer by adding an additional anonymous function:

function create() {
  for (var i = 0; i < 5; i++) {
    closures[i] = (function(tmp) {
        return function() {
          alert("i = " + tmp);
        };
    })(i);
  }
}

The explanation is that JavaScript's scopes are function-level, not block-level, and creating a closure just means that the enclosing scope gets added to the lexical environment of the enclosed function.

After the loop terminates, the function-level variable i has the value 5, and that's what the inner function 'sees'.


As a side note: you should beware of unnecessary function object creation, espacially in loops; it's inefficient, and if DOM objects are involved, it's easy to create circular references and therefore introduce memory leaks in Internet Explorer.

Answer

I think this might be what you want:

var closures = [];

function createClosure(i) {
    closures[i] = function() {
        alert("i = " + i);
    };
}

function create() {
    for (var i = 0; i < 5; i++) {
        createClosure(i);
    }
}
Answer

The solution is to have a self-executing lambda wrapping your array push. You also pass i as an argument to that lambda. The value of i inside the self-executing lambda will shadow the value of the original i and everything will work as intended:

function create() {
    for (var i = 0; i < 5; i++) (function(i) {
        closures[i] = function() {
            alert("i = " + i);
        };
    })(i);
}

Another solution would be to create yet another closure which captures the correct value of i and assigns it to another variable which would "get caught" in the final lambda:

function create() {
    for (var i = 0; i < 5; i++) (function() {
        var x = i;

        closures.push(function() {
            alert("i = " + x);
        });
    })();
}
Answer

Yes closures are working here. Each time you loop the function you are creating grabs the i. Each function you create shares the same i. The problem you are seeing is that since they all share the same i they also share the final value of i since it is the same captured variable.

Edit: This article by Mr. Skeet explains closures in some depth and addresses this issue in particular in a way that is much more informative then I have here. However be careful as the way that Javascript and C# handle closures have some subtle differences. Skip to the section called "Comparing capture strategies: complexity vs power" for his explanation on this issue.

Answer

John Resig's Learning Advanced JavaScript explains this and more. It's an interactive presentation that explains a lot about JavaScript, and the examples are fun to read and execute.

It has a chapter about closures, and this example looks a lot like yours.

Here's the broken example:

var count = 0; 
for ( var i = 0; i < 4; i++ ) { 
  setTimeout(function(){ 
    assert( i == count++, "Check the value of i." ); 
  }, i * 200); 
}

And the fix:

var count = 0; 
for ( var i = 0; i < 4; i++ ) (function(i){ 
  setTimeout(function(){ 
    assert( i == count++, "Check the value of i." ); 
  }, i * 200); 
})(i);
Answer

Just defining an inner function, or assigning it to some variable:

closures[i] = function() {...

does not create a private copy of the whole execution context. The context isn't copied until the nearest outer function is exiting (at which point those external variables could be garbage collected, so we'd better grab a copy).

This is why wrapping another function around your inner function works - the middle guy actually executes and exits, cuing the innermost function to save his own copy of the stack.

Answer

Here is what you should do to achieve your result:

<script>
var closures = [];
function create() {  
    for (var i = 0; i < 5; i++) {   
        closures[i] = function(number) {      
        alert("i = " + number);   
        };  
    }
}
function run() {  
    for (var i = 0; i < 5; i++) {   
        closures[i](i); 
    }
}
create();
run();
</script>

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