Ye olde arguments argument (was: Topic list - pending changes and issues for the ES3.1 spec)

Peter Michaux petermichaux at
Thu Sep 11 16:09:22 PDT 2008

On Thu, Sep 11, 2008 at 3:40 PM, Jon Zeppieri <jaz at> wrote:
> On Thu, Sep 11, 2008 at 5:59 PM, Peter Michaux <petermichaux at> wrote:
>> On Thu, Sep 11, 2008 at 12:11 PM, Jon Zeppieri <jaz at> wrote:
>> [snip]
>>> I imagine the appeal of arguments.callee comes from the fact that it
>>> allows programmers to rename functions without having to change
>>> recursive calls within the body of the function.
>> It makes recursive calls inside anonymous functions possible.
> No.  See "fixpoint combinator."

I was thinking about that in particular and thinking that
arguments.callee makes a complex concept like fixpoint combinator
something that is very easy to understand and use.

> But that's a somewhat flippant response.  More to the point: if you
> want recursion, one way or another, you need to be able to refer to
> the function in question.  'arguments.callee' allows you to refer to
> it but violates the Tennent Correspondence.

Isn't Tennent Correspondence completely shot anyway in ECMAScript?

> So, given that you can
> either refer to the function this way:
> var foo = bar() { ... bar ...}
>   or this way:
> function bar() { ... arguments.callee ... }
> ... it's not clear to me what advantage the latter has over the former
> (IE bugs aside, that is).  Anonymity itself doesn't seem to be a
> virtue.

There is a large advantage in keeping code bulk down. There have been
times that I've marveled at the utility of arguments.callee. Sometimes
the variable that refers to a function value will be reassigned,
arguments.callee just keeps working but your first example above


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