Scopes and Symbol Tables

  • Torben Ægidius Mogensen
Part of the Undergraduate Topics in Computer Science book series (UTICS)


An important concept in programming languages is the ability to name objects such as variables, functions and types. Each such named object will have a declaration, where the name is defined as a synonym for the object. This is called binding. Each name will also have a number of uses, where the name is used as a reference to the object to which it is bound. Often, the declaration of a name has a limited scope: a portion of the program where the name will be visible. Such declarations are called local declarations, whereas a declaration that makes the declared name visible in the entire program is called global. It may happen that the same name is declared in several nested scopes. In this case, it is normal that the declaration closest to a use of the name will be the one that defines that particular use. A compiler will need to keep track of names and the objects these are bound to, so that any use of a name will be attributed correctly to its declaration. This is typically done using a symbol table.


Hash Table Syntax Tree Functional Language Dynamic Binding Hash Code 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. 1.
    Okasaki, C.: Purely Functional Data Structures. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1998) CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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