To see how information is passed to functions, let's look again at our old standby, the addition of two plus two. In Lisp, this is written as follows:
(+ 2 2)
If you evaluate this expression, the number 4 will appear in your echo
area. What the Lisp interpreter does is add the numbers that follow
The numbers added by
+ are called the arguments of the
+. These numbers are the information that is given to
or passed to the function.
The word `argument' comes from the way it is used in mathematics and
does not refer to a disputation between two people; instead it refers to
the information presented to the function, in this case, to the
+. In Lisp, the arguments to a function are the atoms or lists
that follow the function. The values returned by the evaluation of
these atoms or lists are passed to the function. Different functions
require different numbers of arguments; some functions require none at
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