Skip to main content
Version: 0.5.0


This article has examples in the following target languages:

A subset of LF syntax is used to write expressions, which represent values in the target language. Expressions are used to initialize state variable and to give values to parameters. Arbitrary expressions in the target language can always be given within delimiters {= ... =}, but simple forms do not require the delimiters. These simple forms are documented here.

Basic expressions

The most basic expression forms, which are supported by all target languages, are the following:

  • Literals:

    • Numeric literals, e.g. 1, -120, 1.5, 3.14e10. Note that the sign, if any, is part of the literal and must not be separated by whitespace.
    • String literals, e.g. "abcd". String literals always use double-quotes, even in languages which support other forms (like Python).
    • Character literals. e.g. 'a'. Single-quoted literals must be exactly one character long --even in Python.
    • Boolean literals: true, false, True, False. The latter two are there for Python.
  • Parameter references, which are simple identifiers (e.g. foo). Any identifier in expression position must refer to a parameter of the enclosing reactor.

  • Time values, e.g. 1 msec or 10 seconds. The syntax of time values is integer time_unit, where time_unit is one of the following:

    • nsec or ns: nanoseconds
    • usec or us: microseconds
    • msec or ms: milliseconds
    • sec, second, or s: seconds
    • minute or min: 60 seconds
    • hour: 60 minutes
    • day: 24 hours
    • week: 7 days

    Each of these units also support a plural version (e.g., nsecs, minutes, and days), which means the same thing.

    The time value 0 need not be given a unit, but for all other values, the unit is required.

    Time values are compatible with the time type.

  • Escaped target-language expression, e.g. {= foo() =}. This syntax is used to write any expression which does not fall into one of the other forms described here. The contents are not parsed and are used verbatim in the generated file.

For instance, to have a 2-dimensional array as a parameter in C:

reactor Foo(param:{= int[][] =}({= { {1}, {2} } =})) { ... }

Both int[][] and { {1}, {2} } are C fragments here, not LF.


To avoid the awkwardness of using the code delimiters {= ... =}, Lingua Franca supports initialization of simple arrays and similar structures. The interpretation is slightly different in each target language.

In C, a parameter or state may be given an array value as in the following example:

reactor Foo(param: double[] = {0.0, 1.0, 2.0}) { reaction(startup) {= printf("%f %f %f\n", self->param[0], self->param[1], self->param[2]); =} }

The parameter named param will become an array of length three. When instantiating this reactor, the default parameter value can be overridden using a similar syntax:

main reactor { f = new Foo(param = {3.3, 4.4, 5.5}); }

See the Target Language Details for details and alternative syntaxes.