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26.6 Returning and Accepting Multiple Values

Scheme allows a procedure to return more than one value to its caller. This is quite different to other languages which only allow single-value returns. Returning multiple values is different from returning a list (or pair or vector) of values to the caller, because conceptually not one compound object is returned, but several distinct values.

The primitive procedures for handling multiple values are values and call-with-values. values is used for returning multiple values from a procedure. This is done by placing a call to values with zero or more arguments in tail position in a procedure body. call-with-values combines a procedure returning multiple values with a procedure which accepts these values as parameters.

values . args Scheme Procedure
scm_values (args) C Function
Delivers all of its arguments to its continuation. Except for continuations created by the call-with-values procedure, all continuations take exactly one value. The effect of passing no value or more than one value to continuations that were not created by call-with-values is unspecified.

call-with-values producer consumer Scheme Procedure
Calls its producer argument with no values and a continuation that, when passed some values, calls the consumer procedure with those values as arguments. The continuation for the call to consumer is the continuation of the call to call-with-values.
(call-with-values (lambda () (values 4 5))
                  (lambda (a b) b))
                                             ==>  5

(call-with-values * -)                             ==>  -1

In addition to the fundamental procedures described above, Guile has a module which exports a syntax called receive, which is much more convenient. If you want to use it in your programs, you have to load the module (ice-9 receive) with the statement

(use-modules (ice-9 receive))

receive formals expr body ... library syntax
Evaluate the expression expr, and bind the result values (zero or more) to the formal arguments in the formal argument list formals. formals must have the same syntax like the formal argument list used in lambda (see Lambda). After binding the variables, the expressions in body ... are evaluated in order.