Parameter Passing in Compiler Design

Parameter Passing

  • The communication medium among procedures is known as parameter passing. The values of the variables from a calling procedure are transferred to the called procedure by some mechanism.

R- value 

  • The value of an expression is called its r-value. The value contained in a single variable also becomes an r-value if its appear on the right side of the assignment operator.
  • R-value can always be assigned to some other variable.


  • The location of the memory(address) where the expression is stored is known as the l-value of that expression.
  • It always appears on the left side if the assignment operator.
 Types of Parameter Passing

Types of Parameter Passing

Different ways of passing the parameters to the procedure

  • Call by Value
  • Call by reference
  • Copy restore
  • Call by name

Call by Value

  • In call by value the calling procedure pass the r-value of the actual parameters and the compiler puts that into called procedure’s activation record.
  • Formal parameters hold the values passed by the calling procedure, thus any changes made in the formal parameters does not affect the actual parameters.
 Call by Value

Call by Value

Call by Reference

  • In call by reference the formal and actual parameters refers to same memory location.
  • The l-value of actual parameters is copied to the activation record of the called function. Thus the called function has the address of the actual parameters.
  • If the actual parameters does not have a l-value (eg- i+3) then it is evaluated in a new temporary location and the address of the location is passed.
  • Any changes made in the formal parameter is reflected in the actual parameters (because changes are made at the address).
 Call by Reference

Call by Reference

Call by Copy Restore

  • In call by copy restore compiler copies the value in formal parameters when the procedure is called and copy them back in actual parameters when control returns to the called function.
  • The r-values are passed and on return r-value of formals are copied into l-value of actuals.
 Call by Copy

Call by Copy

Call by Name

  • In call by name the actual parameters are substituted for formals in all the places formals occur in the procedure.
  • It is also referred as lazy evaluation because evaluation is done on parameters only when needed.
 Call by Name

Call by Name

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