1 This is the Annotated Ada Reference Manual.

2 Other available Ada documents include:

  • 3/2 Ada 95 Rationale. This gives an introduction to the new features of Ada incorporated in the 1995 edition of this Standard, and explains the rationale behind them. Programmers unfamiliar with Ada 95 should read this first.
  • 3.1/2 Ada 2005 Rationale. This gives an introduction to the changes and new features in Ada 2005 (compared with the 1995 edition), and explains the rationale behind them. Programmers should read this rationale before reading this Standard in depth.
  • 5 The Ada Reference Manual (RM). This is the International Standard — ISO/IEC 8652:1995.
  • 5.1/2 Technical Corrigendum 1 — ISO/IEC 8652:1995:COR.1:2001. This document lists corrections to the International Standard.
  • 5.2/2 Amendment 1 — ISO/IEC 8652:1995:AMD.1:200y. This document outlines additional features and corrections to the International Standard.
  • 5.3/2 The consolidated Ada Reference Manual. An unofficial document combining the above three documents into a single document.

Design Goals

6/2 Ada was originally designed with three overriding concerns: program reliability and maintenance, programming as a human activity, and efficiency. The 1995 revision to the language was designed to provide greater flexibility and extensibility, additional control over storage management and synchronization, and standardized packages oriented toward supporting important application areas, while at the same time retaining the original emphasis on reliability, maintainability, and efficiency. This amended version provides further flexibility and adds more standardized packages within the framework provided by the 1995 revision.

7 The need for languages that promote reliability and simplify maintenance is well established. Hence emphasis was placed on program readability over ease of writing. For example, the rules of the language require that program variables be explicitly declared and that their type be specified. Since the type of a variable is invariant, compilers can ensure that operations on variables are compatible with the properties intended for objects of the type. Furthermore, error-prone notations have been avoided, and the syntax of the language avoids the use of encoded forms in favor of more English-like constructs. Finally, the language offers support for separate compilation of program units in a way that facilitates program development and maintenance, and which provides the same degree of checking between units as within a unit.

8 Concern for the human programmer was also stressed during the design. Above all, an attempt was made to keep to a relatively small number of underlying concepts integrated in a consistent and systematic way while continuing to avoid the pitfalls of excessive involution. The design especially aims to provide language constructs that correspond intuitively to the normal expectations of users.

9 Like many other human activities, the development of programs is becoming ever more decentralized and distributed. Consequently, the ability to assemble a program from independently produced software components continues to be a central idea in the design. The concepts of packages, of private types, and of generic units are directly related to this idea, which has ramifications in many other aspects of the language. An allied concern is the maintenance of programs to match changing requirements; type extension and the hierarchical library enable a program to be modified while minimizing disturbance to existing tested and trusted components.

10 No language can avoid the problem of efficiency. Languages that require over-elaborate compilers, or that lead to the inefficient use of storage or execution time, force these inefficiencies on all machines and on all programs. Every construct of the language was examined in the light of present implementation techniques. Any proposed construct whose implementation was unclear or that required excessive machine resources was rejected. 

Language Summary

11 An Ada program is composed of one or more program units. Program units may be subprograms (which define executable algorithms), packages (which define collections of entities), task units (which define concurrent computations), protected units (which define operations for the coordinated sharing of data between tasks), or generic units (which define parameterized forms of packages and subprograms). Each program unit normally consists of two parts: a specification, containing the information that must be visible to other units, and a body, containing the implementation details, which need not be visible to other units. Most program units can be compiled separately.

12 This distinction of the specification and body, and the ability to compile units separately, allows a program to be designed, written, and tested as a set of largely independent software components.

13 An Ada program will normally make use of a library of program units of general utility. The language provides means whereby individual organizations can construct their own libraries. All libraries are structured in a hierarchical manner; this enables the logical decomposition of a subsystem into individual components. The text of a separately compiled program unit must name the library units it requires.

14 Program Units

15 A subprogram is the basic unit for expressing an algorithm. There are two kinds of subprograms: procedures and functions. A procedure is the means of invoking a series of actions. For example, it may read data, update variables, or produce some output. It may have parameters, to provide a controlled means of passing information between the procedure and the point of call. A function is the means of invoking the computation of a value. It is similar to a procedure, but in addition will return a result.

16 A package is the basic unit for defining a collection of logically related entities. For example, a package can be used to define a set of type declarations and associated operations. Portions of a package can be hidden from the user, thus allowing access only to the logical properties expressed by the package specification.

17 Subprogram and package units may be compiled separately and arranged in hierarchies of parent and child units giving fine control over visibility of the logical properties and their detailed implementation.

18 A task unit is the basic unit for defining a task whose sequence of actions may be executed concurrently with those of other tasks. Such tasks may be implemented on multicomputers, multiprocessors, or with interleaved execution on a single processor. A task unit may define either a single executing task or a task type permitting the creation of any number of similar tasks.

19/2 A protected unit is the basic unit for defining protected operations for the coordinated use of data shared between tasks. Simple mutual exclusion is provided automatically, and more elaborate sharing protocols can be defined. A protected operation can either be a subprogram or an entry. A protected entry specifies a Boolean expression (an entry barrier) that must be True before the body of the entry is executed. A protected unit may define a single protected object or a protected type permitting the creation of several similar objects.

20 Declarations and Statements

21 The body of a program unit generally contains two parts: a declarative part, which defines the logical entities to be used in the program unit, and a sequence of statements, which defines the execution of the program unit.

22 The declarative part associates names with declared entities. For example, a name may denote a type, a constant, a variable, or an exception. A declarative part also introduces the names and parameters of other nested subprograms, packages, task units, protected units, and generic units to be used in the program unit.

23 The sequence of statements describes a sequence of actions that are to be performed. The statements are executed in succession (unless a transfer of control causes execution to continue from another place).

24 An assignment statement changes the value of a variable. A procedure call invokes execution of a procedure after associating any actual parameters provided at the call with the corresponding formal parameters.

25 Case statements and if statements allow the selection of an enclosed sequence of statements based on the value of an expression or on the value of a condition.

26 The loop statement provides the basic iterative mechanism in the language. A loop statement specifies that a sequence of statements is to be executed repeatedly as directed by an iteration scheme, or until an exit statement is encountered.

27 A block statement comprises a sequence of statements preceded by the declaration of local entities used by the statements.

28 Certain statements are associated with concurrent execution. A delay statement delays the execution of a task for a specified duration or until a specified time. An entry call statement is written as a procedure call statement; it requests an operation on a task or on a protected object, blocking the caller until the operation can be performed. A called task may accept an entry call by executing a corresponding accept statement, which specifies the actions then to be performed as part of the rendezvous with the calling task. An entry call on a protected object is processed when the corresponding entry barrier evaluates to true, whereupon the body of the entry is executed. The requeue statement permits the provision of a service as a number of related activities with preference control. One form of the select statement allows a selective wait for one of several alternative rendezvous. Other forms of the select statement allow conditional or timed entry calls and the asynchronous transfer of control in response to some triggering event.

29 Execution of a program unit may encounter error situations in which normal program execution cannot continue. For example, an arithmetic computation may exceed the maximum allowed value of a number, or an attempt may be made to access an array component by using an incorrect index value. To deal with such error situations, the statements of a program unit can be textually followed by exception handlers that specify the actions to be taken when the error situation arises. Exceptions can be raised explicitly by a raise statement.

30 Data Types

31 Every object in the language has a type, which characterizes a set of values and a set of applicable operations. The main classes of types are elementary types (comprising enumeration, numeric, and access types) and composite types (including array and record types).

32/2 An enumeration type defines an ordered set of distinct enumeration literals, for example a list of states or an alphabet of characters. The enumeration types Boolean, Character, Wide_Character, and Wide_Wide_Character are predefined.

33 Numeric types provide a means of performing exact or approximate numerical computations. Exact computations use integer types, which denote sets of consecutive integers. Approximate computations use either fixed point types, with absolute bounds on the error, or floating point types, with relative bounds on the error. The numeric types Integer, Float, and Duration are predefined.

34/2 Composite types allow definitions of structured objects with related components. The composite types in the language include arrays and records. An array is an object with indexed components of the same type. A record is an object with named components of possibly different types. Task and protected types are also forms of composite types. The array types String, Wide_String, and Wide_Wide_String are predefined.

35 Record, task, and protected types may have special components called discriminants which parameterize the type. Variant record structures that depend on the values of discriminants can be defined within a record type.

36 Access types allow the construction of linked data structures. A value of an access type represents a reference to an object declared as aliased or to an object created by the evaluation of an allocator. Several variables of an access type may designate the same object, and components of one object may designate the same or other objects. Both the elements in such linked data structures and their relation to other elements can be altered during program execution. Access types also permit references to subprograms to be stored, passed as parameters, and ultimately dereferenced as part of an indirect call.

37 Private types permit restricted views of a type. A private type can be defined in a package so that only the logically necessary properties are made visible to the users of the type. The full structural details that are externally irrelevant are then only available within the package and any child units.

38 From any type a new type may be defined by derivation. A type, together with its derivatives (both direct and indirect) form a derivation class. Class-wide operations may be defined that accept as a parameter an operand of any type in a derivation class. For record and private types, the derivatives may be extensions of the parent type. Types that support these object-oriented capabilities of class-wide operations and type extension must be tagged, so that the specific type of an operand within a derivation class can be identified at run time. When an operation of a tagged type is applied to an operand whose specific type is not known until run time, implicit dispatching is performed based on the tag of the operand.

38.1/2 Interface types provide abstract models from which other interfaces and types may be composed and derived. This provides a reliable form of multiple inheritance. Interface types may also be implemented by task types and protected types thereby enabling concurrent programming and inheritance to be merged.

39 The concept of a type is further refined by the concept of a subtype, whereby a user can constrain the set of allowed values of a type. Subtypes can be used to define subranges of scalar types, arrays with a limited set of index values, and records and private types with particular discriminant values.

40 Other Facilities

41/2 Aspect clauses can be used to specify the mapping between types and features of an underlying machine. For example, the user can specify that objects of a given type must be represented with a given number of bits, or that the components of a record are to be represented using a given storage layout. Other features allow the controlled use of low level, nonportable, or implementation-dependent aspects, including the direct insertion of machine code.

42/2 The predefined environment of the language provides for input-output and other capabilities by means of standard library packages. Input-output is supported for values of user-defined as well as of predefined types. Standard means of representing values in display form are also provided.

42.1/2 The predefined standard library packages provide facilities such as string manipulation, containers of various kinds (vectors, lists, maps, etc.), mathematical functions, random number generation, and access to the execution environment.

42.2/2 The specialized annexes define further predefined library packages and facilities with emphasis on areas such as real-time scheduling, interrupt handling, distributed systems, numerical computation, and high-integrity systems.

43 Finally, the language provides a powerful means of parameterization of program units, called generic program units. The generic parameters can be types and subprograms (as well as objects and packages) and so allow general algorithms and data structures to be defined that are applicable to all types of a given class. 

Language Changes

44/2 This amended International Standard updates the edition of 1995 which replaced the first edition of 1987. In the 1995 edition, the following major language changes were incorporated: 

  • 45/2 Support for standard 8-bit and 16-bit characters was added. See clauses 2.1, 3.5.2, 3.6.3, A.1, A.3, and A.4.
  • 46/2 The type model was extended to include facilities for object-oriented programming with dynamic polymorphism. See the discussions of classes, derived types, tagged types, record extensions, and private extensions in clauses 3.4, 3.9, and 7.3. Additional forms of generic formal parameters were allowed as described in clauses 12.5.1 and 12.7.
  • 47/2 Access types were extended to allow an access value to designate a subprogram or an object declared by an object declaration (as opposed to just an object allocated on a heap). See clause 3.10.
  • 48/2 Efficient data-oriented synchronization was provided by the introduction of protected types. See clause 9.4.
  • 49/2 The library structure was extended to allow library be organized into a hierarchy of parent and child units. See clause 10.1.
  • 50/2 Additional support was added for interfacing to other languages. See Annex B.
  • 51/2 The Specialized Needs Annexes were added to provide specific support for certain application areas:
    • 52 Annex C, “Systems Programming”
    • 53 Annex D, “Real-Time Systems”
    • 54 Annex E, “Distributed Systems”
    • 55 Annex F, “Information Systems”
    • 56 Annex G, “Numerics”
    • 57 Annex H, “High Integrity Systems” 

57.1/2 Amendment 1 modifies the 1995 International Standard by making changes and additions that improve the capability of the language and the reliability of programs written in the language. In particular the changes were designed to improve the portability of programs, interfacing to other languages, and both the object-oriented and real-time capabilities.

57.2/2 The following significant changes with respect to the 1995 edition are incorporated:

  • 57.3/2 Support for program text is extended to cover the entire ISO/IEC 10646:2003 repertoire. Execution support now includes the 32-bit character set. See clauses 2.1, 3.5.2, 3.6.3, A.1, A.3, and A.4.
  • 57.4/2 The object-oriented model has been improved by the addition of an interface facility which provides multiple inheritance and additional flexibility for type extensions. See clauses 3.4, 3.9, and 7.3. An alternative notation for calling operations more akin to that used in other languages has also been added. See clause 4.1.3.
  • 57.5/2 Access types have been further extended to unify properties such as the ability to access constants and to exclude null values. See clause 3.10. Anonymous access types are now permitted more freely and anonymous access-to-subprogram types are introduced. See clauses 3.3, 3.6, 3.10, and 8.5.1.
  • 57.6/2 The control of structure and visibility has been enhanced to permit mutually dependent references between units and finer control over access from the private part of a package. See clauses 3.10.1 and 10.1.2. In addition, limited types have been made more useful by the provision of aggregates, constants, and constructor functions. See clauses 4.3, 6.5, and 7.5.
  • 57.7/2 The predefined environment has been extended to include additional time and calendar operations, improved string handling, a comprehensive container library, file and directory management, and access to environment variables. See clauses 9.6.1, A.4, A.16, A.17, and A.18.
  • 57.8/2 Two of the Specialized Needs Annexes have been considerably enhanced:
    • 57.9/2 The Real-Time Systems Annex now includes the Ravenscar profile for high-integrity systems, further dispatching policies such as Round Robin and Earliest Deadline First, support for timing events, and support for control of CPU time utilization. See clauses D.2, D.13, D.14, and D.15.
    • 57.10/2 The Numerics Annex now includes support for real and complex vectors and matrices as previously defined in ISO/IEC 13813:1997 plus further basic operations for linear algebra. See clause G.3.
  • 57.11/2 The overall reliability of the language has been enhanced by a number of improvements. These include new syntax which detects accidental overloading, as well as pragmas for making assertions and giving better control over the suppression of checks. See clauses 6.1, 11.4.2, and 11.5.


Instructions for Comment Submission



This document is a copy managed by Alexis Wilke who also writes an Ada compiler. Before sending any comments, formal or not, make sure to check the original document. To submit a comment to Alexis Wilke, send an email to


58/1 {instructions for comment submission} {comments, instructions for submission} Informal comments on this International Standard may be sent via e-mail to If appropriate, the Project Editor will initiate the defect correction procedure.

59 Comments should use the following format: 


      !topic Title summarizing comment
      !reference Ada 2005
      !from Author Name yy-mm-dd
      !keywords keywords related to topic

      text of discussion

61 where is the section, clause or subclause number, pp is the paragraph number where applicable, and yy-mm-dd is the date the comment was sent. The date is optional, as is the !keywords line.

62/1 Please use a descriptive “Subject” in your e-mail message, and limit each message to a single comment..

63 When correcting typographical errors or making minor wording suggestions, please put the correction directly as the topic of the comment; use square brackets [ ] to indicate text to be omitted and curly braces { } to indicate text to be added, and provide enough context to make the nature of the suggestion self-evident or put additional information in the body of the comment, for example: 


      !topic [c]{C}haracter
      !topic it[']s meaning is not defined

65 Formal requests for interpretations and for reporting defects in this International Standard may be made in accordance with the ISO/IEC JTC1 Directives and the ISO/IEC JTC1/SC22 policy for interpretations. National Bodies may submit a Defect Report to ISO/IEC JTC1/SC22 for resolution under the JTC1 procedures. A response will be provided and, if appropriate, a Technical Corrigendum will be issued in accordance with the procedures.


Acknowledgements for the Ada 95 edition of the Ada Reference Manual

66 This International Standard was prepared by the Ada 9X Mapping/Revision Team based at Intermetrics, Inc., which has included: W. Carlson, Program Manager; T. Taft, Technical Director; J. Barnes (consultant); B. Brosgol (consultant); R. Duff (Oak Tree Software); M. Edwards; C. Garrity; R. Hilliard; O. Pazy (consultant); D. Rosenfeld; L. Shafer; W. White; M. Woodger.

67 The following consultants to the Ada 9X Project contributed to the Specialized Needs Annexes: T. Baker (Real-Time/Systems Programming — SEI, FSU); K. Dritz (Numerics — Argonne National Laboratory); A. Gargaro (Distributed Systems — Computer Sciences); J. Goodenough (Real-Time/Systems Programming — SEI); J. McHugh (Secure Systems — consultant); B. Wichmann (Safety-Critical Systems — NPL: UK).

68 This work was regularly reviewed by the Ada 9X Distinguished Reviewers and the members of the Ada 9X Rapporteur Group (XRG): E. Ploedereder, Chairman of DRs and XRG (University of Stuttgart: Germany); B. Bardin (Hughes); J. Barnes (consultant: UK); B. Brett (DEC); B. Brosgol (consultant); R. Brukardt (RR Software); N. Cohen (IBM); R. Dewar (NYU); G. Dismukes (TeleSoft); A. Evans (consultant); A. Gargaro (Computer Sciences); M. Gerhardt (ESL); J. Goodenough (SEI); S. Heilbrunner (University of Salzburg: Austria); P. Hilfinger (UC/Berkeley); B. Källberg (CelsiusTech: Sweden); M. Kamrad II (Unisys); J. van Katwijk (Delft University of Technology: The Netherlands); V. Kaufman (Russia); P. Kruchten (Rational); R. Landwehr (CCI: Germany); C. Lester (Portsmouth Polytechnic: UK); L. Månsson (TELIA Research: Sweden); S. Michell (Multiprocessor Toolsmiths: Canada); M. Mills (US Air Force); D. Pogge (US Navy); K. Power (Boeing); O. Roubine (Verdix: France); A. Strohmeier (Swiss Fed Inst of Technology: Switzerland); W. Taylor (consultant: UK); J. Tokar (Tartan); E. Vasilescu (Grumman); J. Vladik (Prospeks s.r.o.: Czech Republic); S. Van Vlierberghe (OFFIS: Belgium). 

69 Other valuable feedback influencing the revision process was provided by the Ada 9X Language Precision Team (Odyssey Research Associates), the Ada 9X User/Implementer Teams (AETECH, Tartan, TeleSoft), the Ada 9X Implementation Analysis Team (New York University) and the Ada community-at-large.

70 Special thanks go to R. Mathis, Convenor of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC22 Working Group 9. 

71 The Ada 9X Project was sponsored by the Ada Joint Program Office. Christine M. Anderson at the Air Force Phillips Laboratory (Kirtland AFB, NM) was the project manager.

Acknowledgements for the Corrigendum version of the Ada Reference Manual

71.1/1 The editor [R. Brukardt (USA)] would like to thank the many people whose hard work and assistance has made this revision possible.

71.2/1 Thanks go out to all of the members of the ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 22/WG 9 Ada Rapporteur Group, whose work on creating and editing the wording corrections was critical to the entire process. Especially valuable contributions came from the chairman of the ARG, E. Ploedereder (Germany), who kept the process moving; J. Barnes (UK) and K. Ishihata (Japan), whose extremely detailed reviews kept the editor on his toes; G. Dismukes (USA), M. Kamrad (USA), P. Leroy (France), S. Michell (Canada), T. Taft (USA), J. Tokar (USA), and other members too numerous to mention.

71.3/1 Special thanks go to R. Duff (USA) for his explanations of the previous system of formatting of these documents during the tedious conversion to more modern formats. Special thanks also go to the convener of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 22/WG 9, J. Moore (USA), without whose help and support the corrigendum and this consolidated reference manual would not have been possible.

Acknowledgements for the Amendment version of the Ada Reference Manual

71.4/2 The editor [R. Brukardt (USA)] would like to thank the many people whose hard work and assistance has made this revision possible.

71.5/2 Thanks go out to all of the members of the ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 22/WG 9 Ada Rapporteur Group, whose work on creating and editing the wording corrections was critical to the entire process. Especially valuable contributions came from the chairman of the ARG, P. Leroy (France), who kept the process on schedule; J. Barnes (UK) whose careful reviews found many typographical errors; T. Taft (USA), who always seemed to have a suggestion when we were stuck, and who also was usually able to provide the valuable service of explaining why things were as they are; S. Baird (USA), who found many obscure problems with the proposals; and A. Burns (UK), who pushed many of the real-time proposals to completion. Other ARG members who contributed were: R. Dewar (USA), G. Dismukes (USA), R. Duff (USA), K. Ishihata (Japan), S. Michell (Canada), E. Ploedereder (Germany), J.P. Rosen (France), E. Schonberg (USA), J. Tokar (USA), and T. Vardanega (Italy).

71.6/2 Special thanks go to Ada Europe and the Ada Resource Association, without whose help and support the Amendment and this consolidated reference manual would not have been possible. M. Heaney (USA) requires special thanks for his tireless work on the containers packages. Finally, special thanks go to the convener of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 22/WG 9, J. Moore (USA), who guided the document through the standardization process.



72 The International Standard is the same as this version of the Reference Manual, except: 

  • 73 This list of Changes is not included in the International Standard.
  • 74 The “Acknowledgements” page is not included in the International Standard.
  • 75 The text in the running headers and footers on each page is slightly different in the International Standard.
  • 76 The title page(s) are different in the International Standard.
  • 77 This document is formatted for 8.5-by-11-inch paper, whereas the International Standard is formatted for A4 paper (210-by-297mm); thus, the page breaks are in different places.
  • 77.1/1 The “Foreword to this version of the Ada Reference Manual” clause is not included in the International Standard.
  • 77.2/2 The “Using this version of the Ada Reference Manual” clause is not included in the International Standard.

Using this version of the Ada Reference Manual


I strongly suggest that you get an original reference instead of the AAda reference, unless you are specifically interested in the AAda compiler.


77.3/2 This document has been revised with the corrections specified in Technical Corrigendum 1 (ISO/IEC 8652:1995/COR.1:2001) and Amendment 1 (ISO/IEC 8652/AMD.1:200y). In addition, additional annotations have been added and a variety of editorial errors have been corrected.

77.4/2 Changes to the original 8652:1995 can be identified by the version number following the paragraph number. Paragraphs with a version number of /1 were changed by Technical Corrigendum 1 or were editorial corrections at that time, while paragraphs with a version number of /2 were changed by Amendment 1 or were more recent editorial corrections. Paragraphs not so marked are unchanged by Amendment 1, Technical Corrigendum 1, or editorial corrections; that is, they are identical to the 1995 version. Paragraph numbers of unchanged paragraphs are the same as in the original International Standard. Inserted text is indicated by underlining, and deleted text is indicated by strikethroughs. Some versions also use color to indicate the version of the change. Where paragraphs are inserted, the paragraph numbers are of the form pp.nn, where pp is the number of the preceding paragraph, and nn is an insertion number. For instance, the first paragraph inserted after paragraph 8 is numbered 8.1, the second paragraph inserted is numbered 8.2, and so on. Deleted paragraphs are indicated by the text This paragraph was deleted. Deleted paragraphs include empty paragraphs that were numbered in the original Ada Reference Manual. Similar markings and numbering is used for changes to annotations.