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Continuation definition, the act or state of continuing; the state of being continued. See more.
Table of contents

Were there ever plans for a sequel to Scissorhands, or a continuation of that story? This obsession with food choice often leads people to cut out the wrong ones, proliferating the continuation of new diets.

The eight compositions on display at the Sears-Peyton Gallery are a continuation of a body of work. But will future systems see the continuation of the online pass?

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Going forward, Republicans are hoping they can use the continuation of sequestration as leverage in future budget showdowns. A continuation of set assignments in most textbooks would dampen the ardor of pupils generally. During the continuation of the Corn Laws the farmers have suffered the greatest privations. But this continuation is hardly worthy to be counted among the works of Richardson. Our fathers abolished the slave-trade, but permitted the continuation of domestic slavery. Continuations are useful for encoding other control mechanisms in programming languages such as exceptions , generators , coroutines , and so on.

The " current continuation " or "continuation of the computation step" is the continuation that, from the perspective of running code, would be derived from the current point in a program's execution.

Examples of “continuation”

The term continuations can also be used to refer to first-class continuations , which are constructs that give a programming language the ability to save the execution state at any point and return to that point at a later point in the program, possibly multiple times. The earliest description of continuations was made by Adriaan van Wijngaarden in September As part of a formulation for an Algol 60 preprocessor, he called for a transformation of proper procedures into continuation-passing style , [1] though he did not use this name, and his intention was to simplify a program and thus make its result more clear.

Christopher Strachey , Christopher P. Wadsworth and John C. Reynolds brought the term continuation into prominence in their work in the field of denotational semantics that makes extensive use of continuations to allow sequential programs to be analysed in terms of functional programming semantics.

Steve Russell [2] invented the continuation in his second Lisp implementation for the IBM , though he did not name it.


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Reynolds gives a complete history of the discovery of continuations. First-class continuations are a language's ability to completely control the execution order of instructions. They can be used to jump to a function that produced the call to the current function, or to a function that has previously exited.

One can think of a first-class continuation as saving the execution state of the program. It is important to note that true first-class continuations do not save program data — unlike a process image — only the execution context. This is illustrated by the "continuation sandwich" description:. Say you're in the kitchen in front of the refrigerator, thinking about a sandwich. You take a continuation right there and stick it in your pocket.

Continuation Sentence Examples

Then you get some turkey and bread out of the refrigerator and make yourself a sandwich, which is now sitting on the counter. You invoke the continuation in your pocket, and you find yourself standing in front of the refrigerator again, thinking about a sandwich. But fortunately, there's a sandwich on the counter, and all the materials used to make it are gone. So you eat it. In this description, the sandwich is part of the program data e. Continuations are also used in models of computation including denotational semantics , the Actor model , process calculi , and lambda calculus.

These models rely on programmers or semantics engineers to write mathematical functions in the so-called continuation-passing style.

Nearby words

This means that each function consumes a function that represents the rest of the computation relative to this function call. To return a value, the function calls this "continuation function" with a return value; to abort the computation it returns a value. Functional programmers who write their programs in continuation-passing style gain the expressive power to manipulate the flow of control in arbitrary ways.

The cost is that they must maintain the invariants of control and continuations by hand, which is a highly complex undertaking.

Continuations can provide elegant solutions to some difficult high-level problems, like programming a web server that supports multiple pages, accessed by the use of the forward and back buttons and by following links. The Smalltalk Seaside web framework uses continuations to great effect, allowing one to program the web server in procedural style, by switching continuations when switching pages.

More complex constructs for which "continuations provide an elegant description" [1] also exist. For example, in C , longjmp can be used to jump from the middle of one function to another, provided the second function lies deeper in the stack if it is waiting for the first function to return, possibly among others. Other more complex examples include coroutines in Simula 67 , Lua , and Perl ; tasklets in Stackless Python ; generators in Icon and Python ; continuations in Scala starting in 2.

Defines a function test that sets the-continuation to the future execution state of itself:. For a gentler introduction to this mechanism, see call-with-current-continuation. This example shows a possible usage of continuations to implement coroutines as separate threads.

"continuation" in American English

The functions defined above allow for defining and executing threads through cooperative multitasking , i. A program must allocate space in memory for the variables its functions use. Most programming languages use a call stack for storing the variables needed because it allows for fast and simple allocating and automatic deallocation of memory. Other programming languages use a heap for this, which allows for flexibility at a higher cost for allocating and deallocating memory.

Both of these implementations have benefits and drawbacks in the context of continuations.