DEV Community

Dharan Ganesan
Dharan Ganesan

Posted on

Day 25: Memory

Memory 🧠 management is a critical aspect of any programming language, and JavaScript is no exception. Understanding how JavaScript handles memory is essential for building efficient and performant applications.

📦 Memory Allocation

In JavaScript, memory is allocated for variables and objects as needed. One of the key concepts in memory allocation is the difference between the stack and the heap.

🥞 The Stack

The stack is a region of memory that is used for storing primitive data types and function call information. Variables with a known, fixed size, such as numbers and booleans, are stored on the stack. This memory is managed efficiently, as it follows a last-in, first-out (LIFO) approach.

function calculateSum(a, b) {
  // `a` and `b` are stored on the stack
  return a + b;
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

🗄️ The Heap

The heap is a region of memory used for storing objects and variables with dynamic sizes. Objects like arrays and objects created using the new keyword are stored on the heap. This memory requires more complex management, as it involves tracking references and ensuring proper cleanup.

const largeArray = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5];
// `largeArray` is stored on the heap
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

🔄 Memory Life Cycle

Image description

  • Allocation: Memory allocation refers to reserving a portion of the computer's memory to store data. In JavaScript, this is usually done when you create variables, objects, or arrays.
   let num = 42; // Allocating memory for a number
   let arr = [1, 2, 3]; // Allocating memory for an array
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode
  • Usage: Once memory is allocated, it can be used to store data and perform operations. Proper memory usage ensures optimal performance.
   let bigArray = new Array(1000000); // Using memory to store a large array
   for (let i = 0; i < bigArray.length; i++) {
     bigArray[i] = i * 2; // Utilizing memory for data storage
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode
  • Release: Memory that is no longer needed should be released to prevent memory leaks. In JavaScript, memory is automatically released when variables go out of scope.
   function example() {
     let localVar = 'I will be released'; // Memory for localVar is released after the function call
     // Code utilizing localVar
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

🗑️ Garbage Collection

JavaScript uses automatic garbage collection to reclaim memory occupied by objects that are no longer reachable or needed. The most common garbage collection algorithm is the Mark-and-Sweep algorithm:

  1. Mark: The garbage collector marks all objects that are reachable from the root (global objects, local variables, etc.).

  2. Sweep: It then sweeps through the memory, deallocating memory occupied by objects not marked as reachable.

let obj1 = { ref: null };
let obj2 = { ref: null };
obj1.ref = obj2;
obj2.ref = obj1;
// Even though obj1 and obj2 reference each other, they will be marked for garbage collection if not reachable from the root.
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

💥 Memory Leaks

Memory leaks occur when memory that is no longer needed is not released, causing the application's memory usage to grow over time.

  1. Accidental Global Variables: Variables that should have local scope become global, preventing them from being garbage collected.

  2. Closures: Closures that retain references to outer variables even after they are no longer needed.

  3. Unused Event Listeners: Forgetting to remove event listeners can keep objects in memory.

// Example of a memory leak due to a closure
function setupCounter() {
  let count = 0;
  setInterval(() => {
  }, 1000);
// The closure in setInterval retains a reference to the 'count' variable, preventing it from being garbage collected.
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode


Consider a scenario where a web application dynamically adds and removes elements from the DOM without properly cleaning up

const container = document.getElementById('container');

function addElement() {
  const element = document.createElement('div');

function removeElements() {
  container.innerHTML = ''; // Elements are removed from the DOM, but references may still exist

// Calling addElement multiple times

removeElements(); // Elements are removed from the DOM, but references remain
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Prevention: Remove all event listeners, references, and clean up after dynamically added elements before removing them from the DOM.

Top comments (0)