On 11/22/06, Anatoly Vorobey <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
First of all, thanks a lot for your comments.

On Wed, Nov 22, 2006 at 06:43:12PM -0500, Buddha Buck wrote:
> >{
> >  my $x = something();
> >  if $x==1 {
> >    ...code...
> >  }
> >}
> >
> My experience with other statically typed by extremely flexable
> languages is that the pads tend to be arranged in (possibly
> interconnected) linked lists.  In this example, I see potentially
> three pads linked by the time ...code... is called:  One containing
> the local variables defined in ...code..., one containing the visibly
> defined $x, and one visible outside that scope.  A reference to $x in
> ...code... will traverse the linked list until it finds an $x,
> presumably finding the one defined in the sample code.

Agreed. By the way, can you offer a perspective on how the pads get
linked up, at runtime? I see each block as having a compile-time pad,
or proto-pad, filled with values known at compile-time; and every time
the block is entered, a new pad is cloned from the proto-pad. At that
point its OUTER reference leads to the proto-pad of the outer block,
and we want to link it up to the "real" pad of the outer block.

The way I see it, everything which defines a separate lexical scope (a
block, a function, a closure.  I forget if in "my $a; ... ; my $b" $b
is visible in the ellipsis.  If not, then a "my" statement also
defines a separate lexical scope) effectively creates a separate pad,
at run-time, when it is entered.  The pad contains all the variables
defined in that lexical scope, and a link to the pad for the
surrounding lexical scope.  The search for a variable is done by
looking up the variable in the current pad, and if not found,
recursively searching all linked pads until it is found or you run out
of pads.

There are reasonable optimizations that can be made.  If a lexical
scope doesn't create any variables, it can reuse the same pad as its
enclosing lexical scope.  If a lexical scope uses only part of an
enclosing pad, the enclosing pad could be broken into two pieces,
linked together, such that only part of it has to be searched or
survives with the enclosed scope, etc.

I haven't read any implementation details as to how Perl6 handles it,
so I'm going to use the following notation:  if $p is a pad, then
$p.lookup('$var') returns the value of the variable $var in p,
$p.myvars is a hash containing the local variables defined in $p, and
$p.enclosing is the pad of the lexically enclosing scope.

I think in p6 notation, that would be...

class Pad {
 has %!myvars;
 has Pad $.outer;

 method lookup(String $var) {
   return %!myvars{$var} if exists %!myvars{$var};
   return $.outer.lookup($var);
 method set(String $var, $val) {
   %!myvars{$var} = $val if exists %!myvars{$val};
   return $.outer.lookup($var, $val);

One way to do it is to simply say: when we enter the inner block from
the outer block, at that point we can re-link the inner block from the
outer proto-pad to the outer pad we entered from. That by itself works,
but I'm having trouble understanding what happens during a sub call
rather than entering the block "normally". For example:

  my $x = 1;
  sub foo { $x; }

sub bar() { foo(); }

Here we definitely want foo() to see $x==1 (I think), but we get to
foo() via criss-crossing through bar(), and so how would foo() know
where to find the right pad as its outer reference?

I did some experiments with pugs based on explicitly separating what
is visible at compile time from what is visible at run time.
Specifically, I used the following code:

my $x = 25;
sub bar {
 my $x = 1;
 sub foo {
   print ++$x;
 print $x;
print $x;  // 25
foo();  // 1
foo();  // 2
bar(); // 1
foo (); // 2
foo (); // 3
bar(); // 1
foo(); // 4

Let me call the protopads of foo and bar foo0 and bar0, respectively.

From what I see, foo is visible before bar is run (which was sort of
unexpected to me, but reasonable).   Let's see what happens...

The statement "sub bar{...}" appears to set up a protopad $bar0 which
contains an $x, but doesn't put in any values until bar is run.
Everything is "undef".

The statement "sub foo{...}" also sets up a proto-pad $foo0 which is
empty.  It is linked, however, to the protopad for bar.  ($foo0.outer
= $bar0)

Running "foo();" before the "bar()" instantiates a pad $foo1 (=
copy($foo0) for this invocation of foo, a copy of its proto-pad.
Since this links to bar0, when ++$x is done, it modifies the $x in
bar0 to 1.  At the end of the call, $foo1 is garbage, waiting on

The next call of "foo();" does something similar...  $foo2 =
copy($foo0), $x in bar0 gets accessed and incremented to 2, and $foo2
goes poof.

Running "bar();" instantiates a pad $bar1=copy($bar0) for this
invocation of bar.  In theory, the $x in this instantiation is 2, but
the my statement sets it to 1.  More importantly, finally the sub
foo{...} is encountered at run-time, and there is a current lexical
scope available for it.  Since the code is already compiled, the main
effect is  $foo0.outer = $bar1.

Now there is a reference to $bar1 that survives the execution of
bar(), so it isn't GCed.  It doesn't become garbage

Running "foo();" now does $foo3=copy($foo0) as before, but now since
$foo0.outer==$bar1, $foo3.outer==$bar1.  A lookup of $x in $foo3 now
yields  $bar1.myvars{'$x'}, which is 1, so it gets incremented to 2.
$foo3 becomes garbage.

Running "foo();" again creates $foo4 pointing to $bar1, and the $x in
foo goes from 2 to 3. And again, $foo4 becomes garbage.

Running "bar();" now creates a $bar2, but the sub foo {...} has
already been executed once, and now does nothing.  $foo0.outer remains
$bar1.  $bar2 is garbage.

Running "foo()" creates a $foo5 pointign to $bar1, and $x goes from 3 to 4.

In your sample code.....

  my $x = 1;
  sub foo { $x; }

sub bar() { foo(); }

...................I will discuss later, as I am late for Thanksgiving Dinner.

Which leads to the natural idea of maintaining a runtime global stack
of dynamically entered scopes, both scopes entered via sub calls and
entered via just going into an inner block. Then, any time we enter
a block, we can search back through the stack and find the most recent
pad on it that is _a_ pad of our outer lexical block, and call that our
OUTER. Is that how this is usually done?

This way takes care of the "criss-crossing" example above, but I still
don't quite understand what to do about calls deeply up and down the
lexical hierarchy; consider a contrived example like

 my $x = 1;
    sub bar() {$x;}
 sub foo() {
  { { { { { sub baz { $x; } } } } } }
  bar(); baz();

Here baz() is a few levels below foo(), lexical-wise, while bar() is
on a different branch (in all cases the intermediate levels can be made
nontrivial). But what they all have in common with foo() is
that the block that has $x in its pad is an ancestor to all of them.
So I think we'd want the calls to bar() and baz() to see the value of
$x visible to foo(), but I'm not quite sure how they would find it.
Neither of them seems to have any "real" immediate lexical-parent pad
to link to, that would eventually lead them to $x. But I guess this
takes us right back to the rest of the discussion you addressed:

> >But what about inner named subs?
> >
> >{
> >  my $x = something();
> >  sub foo { $x; }
> >}
> >
> If I understand things, the sub foo {$x;} is not actually compiled
> into a callable function until run time.  At which time, a pad
> containing $x exists, which can be referenced by sub when converting
> {$x;} into a Code object bound to the package variable foo.

I'm pretty sure that's wrong. "sub" is a compile-time macro that will
always run at compile-time and force a compilation of its block,
whatever that means in the context of its enclosing lexical environement
(that is, I'm precisely unsure of what that means). In fact, I believe
a compiled Perl6 program should never compile anything at runtime unless
you do an explicit eval() call. But I'll be glad to have myself
corrected on this if I'm wrong.

Finally, on closures:

> When  {$x++;} is evaluated as a closure, it is for all intents and
> purposes a function, with its own linked-list of pads.  The head pad
> in the list contains nothing, and the next pad (the outer pad
> belonging to the function) contains $x.  Since the head pad survives
> the call, and it has a reference on the outer pad containing $x, that
> outer pad survives as well.  However, since nothing else points to it,
> the value of that particular $x is only visible to invokers of the
> closure returned.

Ah, so you're saying that pads aren't explicitly cloned, they're just
referenced so they wouldn't go away when the blocks that created them
exit. Hmm, that's pretty nice (and the easiest thing in the world to
implement), but isn't that a little wasteful? I mean, those pads may
have a 100 lexical variables in them but my closure is ever going to
look at only 3 of them (and I know that at compile-time, by parsing its
leical variable/function/operator references), but the other 97 values
stick around, too?


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