<programming> An argument passing convention where the address of an argument variable is passed to a function or procedure, as opposed to passing the value of the argument expression. Execution of the function or procedure may have side-effects on the actual argument as seen by the caller. The C language's "&" (address of) and "*" (dereference) operators allow the programmer to code explicit call-by-reference. Other languages provide special syntax to declare reference arguments (e.g. ALGOL 60).
See also call-by-name, call-by-value, call-by-value-result.
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Nearby terms: callback « call-by-name « call-by-need « call-by-reference » call-by-value » call-by-value-result » call/cc