EVAL script numkeys key [key ...] arg [arg ...]

*Introduction to EVAL

EVAL and EVALSHA are used to evaluate scripts using the Lua interpreter built into Redis starting from version 2.6.0.

The first argument of EVAL is a Lua 5.1 script. The script does not need to define a Lua function (and should not). It is just a Lua program that will run in the context of the Redis server.

The second argument of EVAL is the number of arguments that follows the script (starting from the third argument) that represent Redis key names. This arguments can be accessed by Lua using the KEYS global variable in the form of a one-based array (so KEYS[1], KEYS[2], ...).

All the additional arguments should not represent key names and can be accessed by Lua using the ARGV global variable, very similarly to what happens with keys (so ARGV[1], ARGV[2], ...).

The following example should clarify what stated above:

> eval "return {KEYS[1],KEYS[2],ARGV[1],ARGV[2]}" 2 key1 key2 first second
1) "key1"
2) "key2"
3) "first"
4) "second"

Note: as you can see Lua arrays are returned as Redis multi bulk replies, that is a Redis return type that your client library will likely convert into an Array type in your programming language.

It is possible to call Redis commands from a Lua script using two different Lua functions:

redis.call() is similar to redis.pcall(), the only difference is that if a Redis command call will result into an error, redis.call() will raise a Lua error that in turn will force EVAL to return an error to the command caller, while redis.pcall will trap the error returning a Lua table representing the error.

The arguments of the redis.call() and redis.pcall() functions are simply all the arguments of a well formed Redis command:

> eval "return redis.call('set','foo','bar')" 0

The above script actually sets the key foo to the string bar. However it violates the EVAL command semantics as all the keys that the script uses should be passed using the KEYS array, in the following way:

> eval "return redis.call('set',KEYS[1],'bar')" 1 foo

The reason for passing keys in the proper way is that, before EVAL all the Redis commands could be analyzed before execution in order to establish what keys the command will operate on.

In order for this to be true for EVAL also keys must be explicit. This is useful in many ways, but especially in order to make sure Redis Cluster is able to forward your request to the appropriate cluster node (Redis Cluster is a work in progress, but the scripting feature was designed in order to play well with it). However this rule is not enforced in order to provide the user with opportunities to abuse the Redis single instance configuration, at the cost of writing scripts not compatible with Redis Cluster.

Lua scripts can return a value, that is converted from the Lua type to the Redis protocol using a set of conversion rules.

*Conversion between Lua and Redis data types

Redis return values are converted into Lua data types when Lua calls a Redis command using call() or pcall(). Similarly Lua data types are converted into the Redis protocol when a Lua script returns a value, so that scripts can control what EVAL will return to the client.

This conversion between data types is designed in a way that if a Redis type is converted into a Lua type, and then the result is converted back into a Redis type, the result is the same as of the initial value.

In other words there is a one-to-one conversion between Lua and Redis types. The following table shows you all the conversions rules:

Redis to Lua conversion table.

Lua to Redis conversion table.

There is an additional Lua-to-Redis conversion rule that has no corresponding Redis to Lua conversion rule:

Also there are two important rules to note:

Here are a few conversion examples:

> eval "return 10" 0
(integer) 10

> eval "return {1,2,{3,'Hello World!'}}" 0
1) (integer) 1
2) (integer) 2
3) 1) (integer) 3
   2) "Hello World!"

> eval "return redis.call('get','foo')" 0

The last example shows how it is possible to receive the exact return value of redis.call() or redis.pcall() from Lua that would be returned if the command was called directly.

In the following example we can see how floats and arrays with nils are handled:

> eval "return {1,2,3.3333,'foo',nil,'bar'}" 0
1) (integer) 1
2) (integer) 2
3) (integer) 3
4) "foo"

As you can see 3.333 is converted into 3, and the bar string is never returned as there is a nil before.

*Helper functions to return Redis types

There are two helper functions to return Redis types from Lua.

There is no difference between using the helper functions or directly returning the table with the specified format, so the following two forms are equivalent:

return {err="My Error"}
return redis.error_reply("My Error")

*Atomicity of scripts

Redis uses the same Lua interpreter to run all the commands. Also Redis guarantees that a script is executed in an atomic way: no other script or Redis command will be executed while a script is being executed. This semantics is very similar to the one of MULTI / EXEC. From the point of view of all the other clients the effects of a script are either still not visible or already completed.

However this also means that executing slow scripts is not a good idea. It is not hard to create fast scripts, as the script overhead is very low, but if you are going to use slow scripts you should be aware that while the script is running no other client can execute commands since the server is busy.

*Error handling

As already stated, calls to redis.call() resulting in a Redis command error will stop the execution of the script and will return the error, in a way that makes it obvious that the error was generated by a script:

> del foo
(integer) 1
> lpush foo a
(integer) 1
> eval "return redis.call('get','foo')" 0
(error) ERR Error running script (call to f_6b1bf486c81ceb7edf3c093f4c48582e38c0e791): ERR Operation against a key holding the wrong kind of value

Using the redis.pcall() command no error is raised, but an error object is returned in the format specified above (as a Lua table with an err field). The script can pass the exact error to the user by returning the error object returned by redis.pcall().

*Bandwidth and EVALSHA

The EVAL command forces you to send the script body again and again. Redis does not need to recompile the script every time as it uses an internal caching mechanism, however paying the cost of the additional bandwidth may not be optimal in many contexts.

On the other hand, defining commands using a special command or via redis.conf would be a problem for a few reasons:

In order to avoid these problems while avoiding the bandwidth penalty, Redis implements the EVALSHA command.

EVALSHA works exactly like EVAL, but instead of having a script as the first argument it has the SHA1 digest of a script. The behavior is the following:


> set foo bar
> eval "return redis.call('get','foo')" 0
> evalsha 6b1bf486c81ceb7edf3c093f4c48582e38c0e791 0
> evalsha ffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff 0
(error) `NOSCRIPT` No matching script. Please use [EVAL](/commands/eval).

The client library implementation can always optimistically send EVALSHA under the hood even when the client actually calls EVAL, in the hope the script was already seen by the server. If the NOSCRIPT error is returned EVAL will be used instead.

Passing keys and arguments as additional EVAL arguments is also very useful in this context as the script string remains constant and can be efficiently cached by Redis.

*Script cache semantics

Executed scripts are guaranteed to be in the script cache of a given execution of a Redis instance forever. This means that if an EVAL is performed against a Redis instance all the subsequent EVALSHA calls will succeed.

The reason why scripts can be cached for long time is that it is unlikely for a well written application to have enough different scripts to cause memory problems. Every script is conceptually like the implementation of a new command, and even a large application will likely have just a few hundred of them. Even if the application is modified many times and scripts will change, the memory used is negligible.

The only way to flush the script cache is by explicitly calling the SCRIPT FLUSH command, which will completely flush the scripts cache removing all the scripts executed so far.

This is usually needed only when the instance is going to be instantiated for another customer or application in a cloud environment.

Also, as already mentioned, restarting a Redis instance flushes the script cache, which is not persistent. However from the point of view of the client there are only two ways to make sure a Redis instance was not restarted between two different commands.

Practically speaking, for the client it is much better to simply assume that in the context of a given connection, cached scripts are guaranteed to be there unless an administrator explicitly called the SCRIPT FLUSH command.

The fact that the user can count on Redis not removing scripts is semantically useful in the context of pipelining.

For instance an application with a persistent connection to Redis can be sure that if a script was sent once it is still in memory, so EVALSHA can be used against those scripts in a pipeline without the chance of an error being generated due to an unknown script (we'll see this problem in detail later).

A common pattern is to call SCRIPT LOAD to load all the scripts that will appear in a pipeline, then use EVALSHA directly inside the pipeline without any need to check for errors resulting from the script hash not being recognized.

*The SCRIPT command

Redis offers a SCRIPT command that can be used in order to control the scripting subsystem. SCRIPT currently accepts three different commands:

*Scripts as pure functions

A very important part of scripting is writing scripts that are pure functions. Scripts executed in a Redis instance are replicated on slaves by sending the script -- not the resulting commands. The same happens for the Append Only File. The reason is that sending a script to another Redis instance is much faster than sending the multiple commands the script generates, so if the client is sending many scripts to the master, converting the scripts into individual commands for the slave / AOF would result in too much bandwidth for the replication link or the Append Only File (and also too much CPU since dispatching a command received via network is a lot more work for Redis compared to dispatching a command invoked by Lua scripts).

The only drawback with this approach is that scripts are required to have the following property:

Things like using the system time, calling Redis random commands like RANDOMKEY, or using Lua random number generator, could result into scripts that will not always evaluate in the same way.

In order to enforce this behavior in scripts Redis does the following:

However the user is still able to write commands with random behavior using the following simple trick. Imagine I want to write a Redis script that will populate a list with N random integers.

I can start with this small Ruby program:

require 'rubygems'
require 'redis'

r = Redis.new

RandomPushScript = <<EOF
    local i = tonumber(ARGV[1])
    local res
    while (i > 0) do
        res = redis.call('lpush',KEYS[1],math.random())
        i = i-1
    return res

puts r.eval(RandomPushScript,[:mylist],[10,rand(2**32)])

Every time this script executed the resulting list will have exactly the following elements:

> lrange mylist 0 -1
 1) "0.74509509873814"
 2) "0.87390407681181"
 3) "0.36876626981831"
 4) "0.6921941534114"
 5) "0.7857992587545"
 6) "0.57730350670279"
 7) "0.87046522734243"
 8) "0.09637165539729"
 9) "0.74990198051087"
10) "0.17082803611217"

In order to make it a pure function, but still be sure that every invocation of the script will result in different random elements, we can simply add an additional argument to the script that will be used in order to seed the Lua pseudo-random number generator. The new script is as follows:

RandomPushScript = <<EOF
    local i = tonumber(ARGV[1])
    local res
    while (i > 0) do
        res = redis.call('lpush',KEYS[1],math.random())
        i = i-1
    return res

puts r.eval(RandomPushScript,1,:mylist,10,rand(2**32))

What we are doing here is sending the seed of the PRNG as one of the arguments. This way the script output will be the same given the same arguments, but we are changing one of the arguments in every invocation, generating the random seed client-side. The seed will be propagated as one of the arguments both in the replication link and in the Append Only File, guaranteeing that the same changes will be generated when the AOF is reloaded or when the slave processes the script.

Note: an important part of this behavior is that the PRNG that Redis implements as math.random and math.randomseed is guaranteed to have the same output regardless of the architecture of the system running Redis. 32-bit, 64-bit, big-endian and little-endian systems will all produce the same output.

*Global variables protection

Redis scripts are not allowed to create global variables, in order to avoid leaking data into the Lua state. If a script needs to maintain state between calls (a pretty uncommon need) it should use Redis keys instead.

When global variable access is attempted the script is terminated and EVAL returns with an error:

redis> eval 'a=10' 0
(error) ERR Error running script (call to f_933044db579a2f8fd45d8065f04a8d0249383e57): user_script:1: Script attempted to create global variable 'a'

Accessing a non existing global variable generates a similar error.

Using Lua debugging functionality or other approaches like altering the meta table used to implement global protections in order to circumvent globals protection is not hard. However it is difficult to do it accidentally. If the user messes with the Lua global state, the consistency of AOF and replication is not guaranteed: don't do it.

Note for Lua newbies: in order to avoid using global variables in your scripts simply declare every variable you are going to use using the local keyword.

*Using SELECT inside scripts

It is possible to call SELECT inside Lua scripts like with normal clients, However one subtle aspect of the behavior changes between Redis 2.8.11 and Redis 2.8.12. Before the 2.8.12 release the database selected by the Lua script was transferred to the calling script as current database. Starting from Redis 2.8.12 the database selected by the Lua script only affects the execution of the script itself, but does not modify the database selected by the client calling the script.

The semantic change between patch level releases was needed since the old behavior was inherently incompatible with the Redis replication layer and was the cause of bugs.

*Available libraries

The Redis Lua interpreter loads the following Lua libraries:

Every Redis instance is guaranteed to have all the above libraries so you can be sure that the environment for your Redis scripts is always the same.

struct, CJSON and cmsgpack are external libraries, all the other libraries are standard Lua libraries.


struct is a library for packing/unpacking structures within Lua.

Valid formats:
> - big endian
< - little endian
![num] - alignment
x - pading
b/B - signed/unsigned byte
h/H - signed/unsigned short
l/L - signed/unsigned long
T   - size_t
i/In - signed/unsigned integer with size `n' (default is size of int)
cn - sequence of `n' chars (from/to a string); when packing, n==0 means
     the whole string; when unpacking, n==0 means use the previous
     read number as the string length
s - zero-terminated string
f - float
d - double
' ' - ignored

Example:> eval 'return struct.pack("HH", 1, 2)' 0
"\x01\x00\x02\x00"> eval 'return {struct.unpack("HH", ARGV[1])}' 0 "\x01\x00\x02\x00"
1) (integer) 1
2) (integer) 2
3) (integer) 5> eval 'return struct.size("HH")' 0
(integer) 4


The CJSON library provides extremely fast JSON manipulation within Lua.


redis> eval 'return cjson.encode({["foo"]= "bar"})' 0
redis> eval 'return cjson.decode(ARGV[1])["foo"]' 0 "{\"foo\":\"bar\"}"


The cmsgpack library provides simple and fast MessagePack manipulation within Lua.

Example:> eval 'return cmsgpack.pack({"foo", "bar", "baz"})' 0
"\x93\xa3foo\xa3bar\xa3baz"> eval 'return cmsgpack.unpack(ARGV[1])' 0 "\x93\xa3foo\xa3bar\xa3baz
1) "foo"
2) "bar"
3) "baz"


The Lua Bit Operations Module adds bitwise operations on numbers. It is available for scripting in Redis since version 2.8.18.

Example:> eval 'return bit.tobit(1)' 0
(integer) 1> eval 'return bit.bor(1,2,4,8,16,32,64,128)' 0
(integer) 255> eval 'return bit.tohex(422342)' 0

It supports several other functions: bit.tobit, bit.tohex, bit.bnot, bit.band, bit.bor, bit.bxor, bit.lshift, bit.rshift, bit.arshift, bit.rol, bit.ror, bit.bswap. All available functions are documented in the Lua BitOp documentation


Perform the SHA1 of the input string.

Example:> eval 'return redis.sha1hex(ARGV[1])' 0 "foo"

*Emitting Redis logs from scripts

It is possible to write to the Redis log file from Lua scripts using the redis.log function.


loglevel is one of:

They correspond directly to the normal Redis log levels. Only logs emitted by scripting using a log level that is equal or greater than the currently configured Redis instance log level will be emitted.

The message argument is simply a string. Example:

redis.log(redis.LOG_WARNING,"Something is wrong with this script.")

Will generate the following:

[32343] 22 Mar 15:21:39 # Something is wrong with this script.

*Sandbox and maximum execution time

Scripts should never try to access the external system, like the file system or any other system call. A script should only operate on Redis data and passed arguments.

Scripts are also subject to a maximum execution time (five seconds by default). This default timeout is huge since a script should usually run in under a millisecond. The limit is mostly to handle accidental infinite loops created during development.

It is possible to modify the maximum time a script can be executed with millisecond precision, either via redis.conf or using the CONFIG GET / CONFIG SET command. The configuration parameter affecting max execution time is called lua-time-limit.

When a script reaches the timeout it is not automatically terminated by Redis since this violates the contract Redis has with the scripting engine to ensure that scripts are atomic. Interrupting a script means potentially leaving the dataset with half-written data. For this reasons when a script executes for more than the specified time the following happens:

*EVALSHA in the context of pipelining

Care should be taken when executing EVALSHA in the context of a pipelined request, since even in a pipeline the order of execution of commands must be guaranteed. If EVALSHA will return a NOSCRIPT error the command can not be reissued later otherwise the order of execution is violated.

The client library implementation should take one of the following approaches:

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