Why Lua

Where does Lua come from?

“Lua” (pronounced LOO-ah) means “Moon” in Portuguese.
It is designed, implemented, and maintained by a team at PUC-Rio, the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Lua was born and raised in Tecgraf, the Computer Graphics Technology Group of PUC-Rio, and is now housed at Lablua. Both Tecgraf and Lablua are laboratories of the Department of Computer Science of PUC-Rio.

The official Lua website is at:


Lua has well deserved reputation for being very small and fast. It was specifically designed to be an embeddable language rather like TCL. It is the most widely used embedded scripting language in game development. Mike Pall the author of LuaJIT explains some of its key benefits. It can fit within 256k per instance.

A lot of games in the iPhone and iPad use Lua because it has high performance and a small footprint. Some well known applications of Lua include:

  • World of Warcraft scripting
  • Adobe Lightroom
  • Tap tap revenge on the iPhone
  • The Logitech harmony remote
  • Wireshark

For more examples of where Lua is used see this list.


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