What is the implicit lifetime for the 1st argument when the 2nd argument is annotated with 'a?

From the rustonomicon, under lifetime elision:

Each elided lifetime in input position becomes a distinct lifetime parameter.

You can try assigning the function to a wrong type. Compiler will tell you the correct type of the function:

let x: () = search;



error[E0308]: mismatched types
 --> src/main.rs:6:17
6 |     let x: () = search;
  |            --   ^^^^^^ expected `()`, found fn item
  |            |
  |            expected due to this
  = note: expected unit type `()`
               found fn item `for<'r, 'a> fn(&'r str, &'a str) -> Vec<&'a str> {search}`

So, type of your function is:

for<'r, 'a> fn(&'r str, &'a str) -> Vec<&'a str> {search}

Also, if query also had lifetime 'a, you should be able to do this:

pub fn search<'a>(query: &str, contents: &'a str) -> Vec<&'a str> {

But this fails to compile because query's lifetime is not 'a.


One way to think of it is that we're not 'giving' a lifetime with lifetime annotations, but describing how the lifetime of your return value relates to the lifetimes of your inputs.

Lifetimes already exist, but annotations let us set relations between them. As you never relate the lifetime of query to anything else in situation 2, we shouldn't really need to name it. Intuitively this makes sense as the most common case and the one that the compiler should (does) infer if you make no annotation on query.