This question already has an answer here:
I was surprised to discover that a local variable can have it's state modified across function invocations. Consider the following example.
(defun example-mutable () (let ((x '("the" "quick" "brown" "fox"))) (nbutlast x 1)))
nbutlast is documented as follows:
This is a version of
butlastthat works by destructively modifying the cdr of the appropriate element, rather than making a copy of the list
butlast is a function removes the last
n elements from a list.)
Then multiple calls to
example-mutable will return
("the" "quick" "brown"),
("the"), and nil, in that order.
Another example is the following:
(defun example-nonmutable (change-val) (let ((x '("the" "quick" "brown" "fox"))) (when change-val (setq x "something else")) x))
(example-nonmutable t) followed by
(example-nonmutable nil) yields results of
"something else" and
("the" "quick" "brown" "fox"). So we see that in the first example the value of
x is not rebound on repeat function invocations, while contrastingly in the second example it is rebound.
So I am guessing that when the function is called that Emacs looks at the address of the data that
x is bound to, and if it hasn't been changed, then it doesn't bother to create a new data object and rebind it in the interest of efficiency?
Is this behavior documented in the manual or elsewhere?