Scala - Functions Call-by-Name


Typically, parameters to functions are by-value parameters; that is, the value of the parameter is determined before it is passed to the function. But what if we need to write a function that accepts as a parameter an expression that we don't want evaluated until it's called within our function? For this circumstance, Scala offers call-by-name parameters.

A call-by-name mechanism passes a code block to the call and each time the call accesses the parameter, the code block is executed and the value is calculated. Here, delayed prints a message demonstrating that the method has been entered. Next, delayed prints a message with its value. Finally, delayed returns ‘t’.

The following program shows how to implement call–by–name.


object Demo {
   def main(args: Array[String]) {

   def time() = {
      println("Getting time in nano seconds")
   def delayed( t: => Long ) = {
      println("In delayed method")
      println("Param: " + t)

Save the above program in Demo.scala. The following commands are used to compile and execute this program.


\>scalac Demo.scala
\>scala Demo


In delayed method                                                             
Getting time in nano seconds                                                  
Param: 2027245119786400