Chapter 3. Variables and Simple Types

This chapter goes into detail about declaration and initialization of variables. It then discusses all the primary built-in Swift simple types. (I mean “simple” as opposed to collections; the primary built-in collection types are discussed at the end of Chapter 4.)

Variable Scope and Lifetime

Recall, from Chapter 1, that a variable is a named shoebox of a single well-defined type. Every variable must be explicitly and formally declared. To put an object into the shoebox, thus causing the variable name to refer to that object, you assign the object to the variable. (As we now know from Chapter 2, a function, too, has a type, and can be assigned to a variable.)

Aside from the convenience of giving a reference a name, a variable, by virtue of the place where it is declared, endows its referent with a particular scope (visibility) and lifetime; assigning something to a variable is a way of ensuring that it can be seen by code that needs to see it and that it persists long enough to serve its purpose.

In the structure of a Swift file (see Example 1-1), a variable can be declared virtually anywhere. It will be useful to distinguish several levels of variable scope and lifetime:

Global variables

A global variable, or simply a global, is a variable declared at the top level of a Swift file. (In Example 1-1, the variable one is a global.)

A global variable lives as long as the file lives. That means it lives forever. Well, not strictly forever, but as ...

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