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A Look at the Design of Lua

By Roberto Ierusalimschy, Luiz Henrique De Figueiredo, Waldemar Celes

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 61 No. 11, Pages 114-123

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Lua is a scripting language developed at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) that has come to be the leading scripting language for video games worldwide.3,7 It is also used extensively in embedded devices like set-top boxes and TVs and in other applications like Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Wikipedia.14 Its first version was released in 1993. The current version, Lua 5.3, was released in 2015.

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Key Insights


Though mainly a procedural language, Lua lends itself to several other paradigms, including object-oriented programming, functional programming, and data-driven programming.5 It also offers good support for data description, in the style of JavaScript and JSON. Data description was indeed one of our main motivations for creating Lua, some years before the appearance of XML and JavaScript.


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