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digitalmars.D - for() with 4 arguments to allow postcondition

reply "Michel Colman" <michelcolman mac.com> writes:
I have a suggestion for D (which might make it into C/C++ as
well, but I thought D would be a more accessible place to suggest
it):

for(initializer; precondition; postcondition; increment)

would allow avoiding a useless comparison before the start of the
first iteration of a "for" loop in those cases where the
programmer knows the loop will always iterate at least once. This
new 4-argument version could exist alongside the old 3-argument
version. An extra semicolon is all it would take to turn a
precondition into a postcondition.

So now you could still write:

for (i = 0; i < 10; ++i) // old syntax still available,
*hopefully* optimized by compiler

but you could just add an extra semicolon to explicitly avoid
comparing 0 to 10:

for (i = 0; ; i < 10; ++i) // new syntax avoids comparing 0 to 10

Of course in this simple case, the compiler will probably
optimize the loop anyway so there will be no difference in the
resulting code (at least if "i" is an int), but replace 10 by a
variable which you know to be greater than 0, or use a custom
class for the iterator, or replace the comparison with a function
call, and the only way to avoid checking the condition before the
first iteration is by using "do while()" which is less readable.

Obviously, using both a precondition AND a postcondition would
not be recommended for readability although it would be legal and
might be useful in obfuscation contests.

Feel free to grab this idea and propagate it to wherever you
like. I would love to see this feature turn up in D and maybe in
C and C++ as well. And it seems very easy to implement.
Jun 19 2012
next sibling parent reply Jacob Carlborg <doob me.com> writes:
On 2012-06-19 12:51, Michel Colman wrote:
 I have a suggestion for D (which might make it into C/C++ as
 well, but I thought D would be a more accessible place to suggest
 it):

 for(initializer; precondition; postcondition; increment)

 would allow avoiding a useless comparison before the start of the
 first iteration of a "for" loop in those cases where the
 programmer knows the loop will always iterate at least once. This
 new 4-argument version could exist alongside the old 3-argument
 version. An extra semicolon is all it would take to turn a
 precondition into a postcondition.

Isn't this what a do-while loop is for, or am I missing something? -- /Jacob Carlborg
Jun 19 2012
parent Timon Gehr <timon.gehr gmx.ch> writes:
On 06/22/2012 08:57 PM, Michel Colman wrote:
 Isn't this what a do-while loop is for, or am I missing something?

Well, yes, but then you don't need the regular "for" loop either. After all, isn't that what a "while" loop is for? The big advantage of "for" is that you can see at a glance what the initialisation, condition(s) and increments are. It describes the whole loop in one statement. That's the only reason why it was invented in the first place, because the language technically does not need it. You can even declare the variable right there so its scope is limited to the loop. With a do-while, you first initialize the variable before the loop (outside of it), then add the increment just before the end (many pages later, perhaps), and the condition at the very end. It's all over the place.
 foreach(i; 0..10)

I know my simple example would be optimized, and can indeed be written with a foreach as well. But if you use some custom class as the variable, or a pointer, it won't be. For example, turn i into a Bigint.

foreach-range works with custom types.
 Or for an entirely different example:

 for (Display * d = firstDisplay; d != 0; d = nextDisplay)

 if you have already established that at least one display is present.

If firstDisplay is trivially non-null, the compiler will remove the comparison. Furthermore, the additional comparison is extremely cheap and will likely be completely unnoticeable.
 Or even simpler:

 for (int i = 1; i <= 0x10000000; i <<= 1)

 I bet this won't be optimized on many compilers.

I bet this is optimized on any halfway decent optimizing compiler. This is the kind of simple optimization compilers are good at.
 And all it would take is one extra semicolon:

 for (Display * d = firstDisplay; ; d != 0; d = nextDisplay)
 for (int i = 1; ; i <= 0x10000000; i <<= 1)

 to tell the compiler to skip the condition before the first iteration.

The examples do not make a compelling case.
Jun 22 2012
prev sibling next sibling parent Timon Gehr <timon.gehr gmx.ch> writes:
On 06/19/2012 12:51 PM, Michel Colman wrote:
 I have a suggestion for D (which might make it into C/C++ as
 well, but I thought D would be a more accessible place to suggest
 it):

 for(initializer; precondition; postcondition; increment)

 would allow avoiding a useless comparison before the start of the
 first iteration of a "for" loop in those cases where the
 programmer knows the loop will always iterate at least once. This
 new 4-argument version could exist alongside the old 3-argument
 version. An extra semicolon is all it would take to turn a
 precondition into a postcondition.

 So now you could still write:

 for (i = 0; i < 10; ++i) // old syntax still available,
 *hopefully* optimized by compiler

foreach(i; 0..10)
 but you could just add an extra semicolon to explicitly avoid
 comparing 0 to 10:

 for (i = 0; ; i < 10; ++i) // new syntax avoids comparing 0 to 10

 Of course in this simple case, the compiler will probably
 optimize the loop anyway so there will be no difference in the
 resulting code (at least if "i" is an int), but replace 10 by a
 variable which you know to be greater than 0, or use a custom
 class for the iterator, or replace the comparison with a function
 call, and the only way to avoid checking the condition before the
 first iteration is by using "do while()" which is less readable.

 Obviously, using both a precondition AND a postcondition would
 not be recommended for readability although it would be legal and
 might be useful in obfuscation contests.

 Feel free to grab this idea and propagate it to wherever you
 like. I would love to see this feature  turn up in D and maybe
 in C and C++ as well.

You have missed to describe the exact semantics of the construct. Should it be like this? for(initializer; condition1; condition2; increment) => for(initializer;;increment){ if(!condition1) break; body; if(!condition2) break; }
 And it seems very easy to implement.

It is. But in ~16'000 LOC, I have used 56 'for' statements. 3 of them have the property that they always execute the first loop iteration and this is not immediately obvious to the compiler. Therefore, I think the proposed syntax sugar is useless.
Jun 19 2012
prev sibling next sibling parent Walter Bright <newshound2 digitalmars.com> writes:
On 6/19/2012 3:51 AM, Michel Colman wrote:
 So now you could still write:

 for (i = 0; i < 10; ++i) // old syntax still available,
 *hopefully* optimized by compiler

I recommend coding up this example, submitting it to dmd with the -O switch, and examining the output.
Jun 19 2012
prev sibling next sibling parent "Michel Colman" <michelcolman mac.com> writes:
 Isn't this what a do-while loop is for, or am I missing 
 something?

Well, yes, but then you don't need the regular "for" loop either. After all, isn't that what a "while" loop is for? The big advantage of "for" is that you can see at a glance what the initialisation, condition(s) and increments are. It describes the whole loop in one statement. That's the only reason why it was invented in the first place, because the language technically does not need it. You can even declare the variable right there so its scope is limited to the loop. With a do-while, you first initialize the variable before the loop (outside of it), then add the increment just before the end (many pages later, perhaps), and the condition at the very end. It's all over the place.
 foreach(i; 0..10)

I know my simple example would be optimized, and can indeed be written with a foreach as well. But if you use some custom class as the variable, or a pointer, it won't be. For example, turn i into a Bigint. Or for an entirely different example: for (Display * d = firstDisplay; d != 0; d = nextDisplay) if you have already established that at least one display is present. Or even simpler: for (int i = 1; i <= 0x10000000; i <<= 1) I bet this won't be optimized on many compilers. And all it would take is one extra semicolon: for (Display * d = firstDisplay; ; d != 0; d = nextDisplay) for (int i = 1; ; i <= 0x10000000; i <<= 1) to tell the compiler to skip the condition before the first iteration.
 for(initializer;;increment){
   if(!condition1) break;
    body;
    if(!condition2) break;
}

Yes, that's exactly what I meant. Michel
Jun 22 2012
prev sibling parent "F i L" <witte2008 gmail.com> writes:
I don't understand why people even still use the 'for' statement 
in D. I know there's probably some situations where 'foreach' 
wont work... but honestly I don't think I've ever come across any 
yet, and foreach syntax is so much easier to understand at a 
glance. I think people still just write 'for' loops cause they're 
use to it from C/C++

The only thing that would be nice, but completely unnecessary, is 
sugar for iota() and retro():

   foreach (i; 0 .. 10, 2)
   foreach (i; 10 .. 0, -2)

becomes:

   foreach (i; iota(0, 10, 2))
   foreach (i; iota(0, 10, 2).retro())
Jun 22 2012