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A declaration introduces the compiler to new identifiers. It is an agreement between the programmer and compiler, that a certain symbol henceforth has a fixed meaning.


Declarations do not have any (explicit) impact on a compiled program: For example, a declaration of a variable informs the compiler about a new identifier associated with a data type. However, neither the variable’s name, nor the data type are stored in the compiled binary file.

Nevertheless, implicitly the compiler reserves enough memory and ensures only legal operations are performed in compliance with the data type. Thus declarations ensure the compiler can process the source code.


Pascal knows following types of declarations:

difference to definitions

Declarations merely tell the compiler “there is something”. In contrast to that, definitions elaborate what “something” is. All definitions will (eventually) change the program state. Declarations do not change the program state.

  • In a program the program header is the declaration, the subsequent block defines the program.
  • The same applies for routines.
  • Labels are declared in the label section
    Their definition, i. e. actually associating this identifier with an address, occurs later in the source code:
    	if somethingIsWrong then
    		goto systemCrash;
  • Constants are declared and defined in one brush: In
    	answer = 42;
    the information “answer is a constant” is the declaration. The information “answer equals 42” is the definition. The same applies to resource strings.
  • Data types are frequently defined implicitly. The following only declares a data type point:
    	point = record
    			x, y: integer;
    The definition of point is invisible: Which operations are allowed on point is not written in this piece of code. Nevertheless, the assignment of a point value to a point variable works out of the box, and further operations on point can be defined using operator overloading.
  • The same applies to variable declarations (except there is no possibility to define operators on anonymous data types). The definition of a variable is an assignment.

In summary, breach of agreed declarations cause compile-time errors, whereas wrong definitions cannot be caught by the compiler.