Execution context in JavaScript

image Understanding execution context is fundamental to grasping how JavaScript code is executed. In JavaScript, every line of code runs within an execution context, which can be global or function-specific. The execution context manages the scope, variable environment, and the this keyword during code execution. By delving into the execution context, you can gain insights into how JavaScript manages and processes code, contributing to more efficient and error-free programming practices.

What is execution context?

Execution context in JavaScript is the environment in which JavaScript code is executed. It contains information about the current scope, variables, and functions. Each time a function is called, a new execution context is created.

Execution context phases
  1. Memory creation phase
  • First, the global object (window in browsers, global in Node.js) is created.
  • The 'this' object is created and it is bound to the global object
  • Memory space is allocated for variables and function references.
  • Functions and variables are stored in the global execution context. Variables are assigned the value of undefined.
  1. Execution phase
  • The code is executed line by line.
  • For each function call, a new execution context is created.

Execution context example

Let's use a simple function that adds two numbers together.

let x = 5;
let y = 10;

function addNumbers(num1, num2) {
    let sum = num1 + num2;
    return sum;

let sum1 = addNumbers(x, y);

Here's what happens behind the scenes when we run this code:

Memory creation phase
  1. The xvariable is allocated to memory and stored as undefined.
  2. The yvariable is allocated to memory and stored as undefined.
  3. The function addNumbers() is allocated memory and its code is stored.
  4. The sum1 variable is allocated to memory and stored as undefined.
The execution phase
  1. x is assigned the value of 5.
  2. y is assigned the value of 10.
  3. Execution jumps to the line where addNumbers() is invoked, creating a new execution context for this function call.
Execution context of addNumbers()
  1. Memory creation phase
    • The num1 and num2 variables are allocated to memory and stored as undefined The sum variable is allocated to memory and stored as undefined
  2. Execution phase of the function
    • num1 is assigned 5 and num2 is assigned 10.
    • sum is calculated as 15 (num1 + num2).
    • The return statement sends 15 back to the global execution context.
    • sum1 is assigned the returned value 15.

In conclusion, a solid understanding of execution context in JavaScript is crucial for developers to navigate scope, variable lifecycles, and function execution effectively. By comprehending how execution contexts operates, from the creation phase that initializes variables and functions to the execution phase that processes code line by line, developers can optimize their code and avoid common pitfalls. This knowledge empowers programmers to write cleaner, more efficient JavaScript code.

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Written by Dayana

Currently studying Full stack software development. I love coding, cars and music :)


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