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digitalmars.D - A thread-safe weak reference implementation

reply =?ISO-8859-1?Q?Alex_R=F8nne_Petersen?= <xtzgzorex gmail.com> writes:
Hi,

This is something I hacked together today. It seems to work exactly as 
intended, and has no threading issues.

import core.atomic,
        core.memory;

private alias void delegate(Object) DEvent;
private extern (C) void rt_attachDisposeEvent(Object h, DEvent e);
private extern (C) void rt_detachDisposeEvent(Object h, DEvent e);

final class Weak(T : Object)
{
     // Note: This class uses a clever trick which works fine for
     // a conservative GC that was never intended to do
     // compaction/copying in the first place. However, if compaction is
     // ever added to D's GC, this class will break horribly. If D ever
     // gets such a GC, we should push strongly for built-in weak
     // references.

     private size_t _object;
     private size_t _ptr;
     private hash_t _hash;

     this(T object)
     in
     {
         assert(object);
     }
     body
     {
         auto ptr = cast(size_t)cast(void*)object;

         // We use atomics because not all architectures may guarantee
         // atomic store and load of these values.
         atomicStore(*cast(shared)&_object, ptr);

         // Only assigned once, so no atomics.
         _ptr = ptr;
         _hash = typeid(T).getHash(&object);

         rt_attachDisposeEvent(object, &unhook);
         GC.setAttr(cast(void*)this, GC.BlkAttr.NO_SCAN);
     }

      property T object()
     {
         auto obj = cast(T)cast(void*)atomicLoad(*cast(shared)&_object);

         // We've moved obj into the GC-scanned stack space, so it's now
         // safe to ask the GC whether the object is still alive. Note
         // that even if the cast and assignment of the obj local
         // doesn't put the object on the stack, this call will. So,
         // either way, this is safe.
         if (GC.addrOf(cast(void*)obj))
             return obj;

         return null;
     }

     private void unhook(Object object)
     {
         rt_detachDisposeEvent(object, &unhook);

         // This assignment is important. If we don't null _object when
         // it is collected, the check in object could return false
         // positives where the GC has reused the memory for a new
         // object.
         atomicStore(*cast(shared)&_object, cast(size_t)0);
     }

     override equals_t opEquals(Object o)
     {
         if (this is o)
             return true;

         if (auto weak = cast(Weak!T)o)
             return _ptr == weak._ptr;

         return false;
     }

     override int opCmp(Object o)
     {
         if (auto weak = cast(Weak!T)o)
             return _ptr > weak._ptr;

         return 1;
     }

     override hash_t toHash()
     {
         auto obj = object;

         return obj ? typeid(T).getHash(&obj) : _hash;
     }

     override string toString()
     {
         auto obj = object;

         return obj ? obj.toString() : toString();
     }
}

Things worth noting:

* I've chosen to make it a class for simplicity. I don't believe that 
the effort to make a struct correctly is worth it, when using weak 
references already implies GC anyway.
* The implementation relies on atomicLoad/atomicStore to use actual 
lock-prefixed instructions on x86 (and the equivalent on other 
architectures) rather than e.g. a spinlock.
* It obviously doesn't work for a compacting GC. Ideally, a compacting 
GC will have full-blown support for weak (and maybe soft) references so 
we don't have to do hacks like this one. But, until then, this is IMHO a 
necessary addition to the standard library.
* The class does not support custom overloads of opEquals() or opCmp() 
on the stored object; it always uses referential equality. It also 
stores its hash at construction time. This is necessary because a 
Weak(T) cannot sensibly be used as e.g. an AA key otherwise, because 
invariants cannot be maintained when you need to call methods on the 
contained object (which may be collected).
* Strictly speaking, the atomics aren't necessary on x86 since 
everything is size_t, and loads/stores of these are guaranteed to be 
atomic. However, I opted to be on the safe side, and also use atomics to 
stay compatible with !x86 architectures.
* I know, I haven't annotated it with any type or method qualifiers at 
all. I'm more focused on the implementation right now.
* Hacks, hacks, hacks. I know it isn't pretty, but there's no good way 
to do it in a thread-safe fashion with a conservative GC other than this.

Comments, suggestions, reviews are all *very* welcome.

-- 
- Alex
Mar 13 2012
next sibling parent reply "Robert" <jfanatiker gmx.at> writes:
         if (GC.addrOf(cast(void*)obj))
             return obj;

Smart :-) You are waiting for the collection to complete, if we are one of the threads started before destructor calls happen. Brilliant. Is it ok if I shamelessly copy parts of your implementation for the new std.signals? I will of course mention your name. Best regards, Robert
Jul 09 2013
parent David <d dav1d.de> writes:
Am 09.07.2013 23:35, schrieb Robert:
 
         if (GC.addrOf(cast(void*)obj))
             return obj;

Smart :-) You are waiting for the collection to complete, if we are one of the threads started before destructor calls happen. Brilliant. Is it ok if I shamelessly copy parts of your implementation for the new std.signals? I will of course mention your name.

My first thought when I saw this title on the NG, this could work for std.signals! Thanks for reading it ;)
Jul 10 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent "Kagamin" <spam here.lot> writes:
What race condition do you have in the constructor?

Declare _object field shared and cast it less.
Jul 09 2013
prev sibling parent Andrej Mitrovic <andrej.mitrovich gmail.com> writes:
On 3/14/12, Alex R=F8nne Petersen <xtzgzorex gmail.com> wrote:
          auto ptr =3D cast(size_t)cast(void*)object;

I think this should be: auto ptr =3D cast(size_t)*cast(void**)&object; The object might have an opCast method, and this is one way to avoid calling it by accident.
Jul 10 2013