JavaScript arguments (Function)

Use the arguments object in a function. Test the performance of arguments usage.

Arguments. This is a special object that is received in a function. Browsers contain many optimizations for arguments objects. We can access arguments like an array.

For performance, using an "arguments" object is worse than having named parameters. But sometimes a method must receive a variable number of arguments.

Arguments example. Here is a simple program that uses the special arguments object. We can access the length, and then access each value at an index.

Info: With arguments, we can make "varargs" or "params" methods in JavaScript. Any number of arguments can be passed.

JavaScript program that uses arguments function printAnimals() { "use strict"; // Access arguments (a special variable available). for (var i = 0; i < arguments.length; i++) { // Get each argument at an index. console.log("ANIMAL NAME: " + arguments[i]); } } // Call the function. printAnimals("bird", "frog", "dog"); printAnimals("leopard"); Output ANIMAL NAME: bird ANIMAL NAME: frog ANIMAL NAME: dog ANIMAL NAME: leopard

Benchmark, arguments. Is accessing arguments fast? Each version does the same thing—we pass 3 arguments to a method and it returns the product of the numbers.

Version 1: We access in the "func1" function the special arguments object. We use var to assign to the arguments.

Version 2: We create a temporary array and pass it to the "func2" function. An allocation must occur on each function call.

Result: In 2019, using an array seems to be faster in Chromium than using arguments.

JavaScript program that benchmarks arguments object function func1() { // Multiply 3 arguments together. var s1 = arguments[0], s2 = arguments[1], s3 = arguments[2]; return s1 * s2 * s3; } function func2(array) { // Multiply 3 array elements together. var s1 = array[0], s2 = array[1], s3 = array[2]; return s1 * s2 * s3; } var x1 =; // Version 1: uses arguments object. for (var i = 0; i < 10000000; i++) { func1(10, 20, 2); } var x2 =; // Version 2: use array argument. for (var i = 0; i < 10000000; i++) { func2([10, 20, 2]); } var x3 =; // Results. console.log("TIME 1: " + (x2 - x1)); console.log("TIME 2: " + (x3 - x2)); Output TIME 1 (2019): 24.489 TIME 2: 22.255

A warning. Usually if we have a function that must receive a known number of arguments, using named parameters is much faster. So be careful with arguments.Arguments object:

Another warning. Arguments is hard to use optimally. In my testing, using both named parameters and arguments tends to be bad for performance.

Also: The length property on arguments can be accessed. And arguments can be passed to other methods without much trouble.

Tip: Always test in a benchmark harness (like the ones on this page) before changing or adding arguments usage.

A summary. Arguments is a powerful feature in JavaScript. But usually arrays, and named arguments, are a simpler and clearer choice for function design.
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