which language allows you to change an argument's value?

Summercool Summercoolness at gmail.com
Sun Sep 30 12:47:13 CEST 2007

I wonder which language allows you to change an argument's value?

foo(&a) {
  a = 3

n = 1
print n

foo(n)     # passing in n, not &n
print n

and now n will be 3.  I think C++ and PHP can let you do that, using
their reference (alias) mechanism.  And C, Python, and Ruby probably
won't let you do that.  What about Java and Perl?

is there any way to prevent a function from changing the argument's

isn't "what i pass in, the function can modify it" not a desireable
behavior if i am NOT passing in the address of my argument?  For one
thing, if we use a module, and call some functions in that module, and
the module's author made some changes to his code, then we have no way
of knowing what we pass in could get changed.  Of course, if it is in
Java, Python, and Ruby, and we pass in a reference to object (not C+
+'s meaning of alias reference), so the object can get changed, but
that can be expected, vs passing in n, when n = 1.  Even when it is
Ruby, when everything is an object, passing n in when n = 1 won't ever
make n become 3.  Is there a way to prevent it from happening in the
languages that allows it?

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