Quickie: Nameless functions in arrays

In JavaScript, you can write functions that look like this:

    function add(a,b) {
        return a+b;

    function multiply(a,b) {
        return a*b;

It’s the C way of writing functions, so it should look pretty familiar and comfortable. But it’s really just a short cut. There’s another way to write named functions.

    add = function(a,b) {
        return a+b;

    multiply = function(a,b) {
        return a*b;

If we like, we can put functions into objects.

ops={add: function(a,b) {return a+b;},
     multiply: function(a,b) {return a*b;}};

and now we can call the functions ops.add(a,b) and ops.multiply(a,b). Or, you can use another notation and call the functions with ops[“add”](a,b) and ops[“multiply”](a,b);

In a similar manner, because arrays can hold objects, we can do this:

ops=[function(a,b) {return a+b;},
     function(a,b) {return a*b;}];

I’ve stripped out the names of the functions and now they look like the anonymous functions that are so common in JavaScript. In this case we still have a way to call the function–by indexing into the array. Normally we create anonymous functions on the fly and bind them to an event like like a button click and never call the function directly in our code.

To get to these almost-anonymous functions I’ve defined in the array, call ops[0](a,b) or ops[1](a,b).


1 Comment

  1. schmutzie said,

    July 4, 2008 at 6:23 am

    You’re being featured on Five Star Friday:

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