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reply Andrei Alexandrescu <SeeWebsiteForEmail erdani.org> writes:
Walter and I have been discussing what the regime of statically-sized 
arrays should be. In short, the behavior that's most consistent with 
everything else is to treat them as values.

This also brings the problems of e.g. containers - should they have 
consistent value semantics (like in STL) or consistent reference 
semantics (like in Java)? Or both, subject to a policy parameter?

At any rate, it looks like the days of cheap by-value copying are over. 
Even today, large structs become onerous to pass by value. If copy 
constructors start being used, we can't simply assume that copying 
things around is not a problem.

Today we use:

void fun(T)(T value) { ... }

or

void fun(T)(ref T value) { ... }

to make a choice in parameter passing. But neither is perfect. The 
former copies too much, and the latter does not accept rvalues. C++ has 
found a solution to this problem in the guise of references to const 
objects. Those can accept lvalues and rvalues alike. It looked like a 
good solution at the time, but it's caused huge issues in other areas of 
the language, which ultimately led to a complicated feature called 
rvalue references. So I'd like to veer a different way.

I was thinking of something like:

void fun(T)(ref? T value) { ... }

This really generates two overloads:

void fun(T)(ref T value) { ... }
void fun(T)(T value) { return (cast(void (ref T)) fun)(value); }

meaning that there are two fun instantiations, one actually doing the 
work, and the other just forwarding rvalues to it.

There's one little extra thing that the feature does. A function may 
want to return its incoming argument, in which case it might say:

ref? T fun(T)(ref? T value) { ... return value; }

in which case the generated code is:

ref T fun(T)(ref T value) { ... }
T fun(T)(T value) { return (cast(void (ref T)) fun)(value); }

I wanted to discuss this to gather more ideas and insights on the topic.


Andrei
Feb 15 2009
next sibling parent reply dsimcha <dsimcha yahoo.com> writes:
== Quote from Andrei Alexandrescu (SeeWebsiteForEmail erdani.org)'s article
 Walter and I have been discussing what the regime of statically-sized
 arrays should be. In short, the behavior that's most consistent with
 everything else is to treat them as values.
 This also brings the problems of e.g. containers - should they have
 consistent value semantics (like in STL)

Oh God no! I always thought the value semantics of STL containers were largely a kludge to work around the fact that C++ doesn't have garbage collection. They make it easier to use RAII for memory management, since every object has a clear owner. This leads to tons and tons of copying if code is written the obvious way, and lots of kludges to prevent it.
 or consistent reference
 semantics (like in Java)?

Yes. Largely to be consistent with builtin dynamic arrays and AAs, and for efficiency, to avoid hidden copying. I consider the builtin static arrays to be just a niche performance hack anyhow, and hardly ever use them because they're too inflexible, so consistency with them isn't as important. If you want to duplicate something before passing it to something else, attaching a simple .dup to the end as in foo(myArray.dup) works pretty darn well. All the standard containers should simply have a .dup method, which works similarly to the builtin dynamic array .dup method.
Feb 15 2009
next sibling parent reply Andrei Alexandrescu <SeeWebsiteForEmail erdani.org> writes:
dsimcha wrote:
 == Quote from Andrei Alexandrescu (SeeWebsiteForEmail erdani.org)'s article
 Walter and I have been discussing what the regime of statically-sized
 arrays should be. In short, the behavior that's most consistent with
 everything else is to treat them as values.
 This also brings the problems of e.g. containers - should they have
 consistent value semantics (like in STL)

Oh God no! I always thought the value semantics of STL containers were largely a kludge to work around the fact that C++ doesn't have garbage collection. They make it easier to use RAII for memory management, since every object has a clear owner. This leads to tons and tons of copying if code is written the obvious way, and lots of kludges to prevent it.

Well I never seemed to have a problem with it, quite the contrary in fact. Values are easier to reason about because they don't have aliasing and don't foster long-distance interdependencies.
 or consistent reference
 semantics (like in Java)?

Yes. Largely to be consistent with builtin dynamic arrays and AAs, and for efficiency, to avoid hidden copying.

Today's dynamic arrays and AAs are really ranges. This becomes most (and most embarrassingly) visible when expanding a dynamic array with ~= comes into discussion.
 I consider the builtin static arrays to be
 just a niche performance hack anyhow, and hardly ever use them because they're
too
 inflexible, so consistency with them isn't as important.  If you want to
duplicate
 something before passing it to something else, attaching a simple .dup to the
end
 as in foo(myArray.dup) works pretty darn well.  All the standard containers
should
 simply have a .dup method, which works similarly to the builtin dynamic array
.dup
 method.

Attaching a .dup doesn't always work that pretty darn well because sometimes you really want .deepdup without realizing it. The .dup thingie copies only one layer of the onion. To bring this more into perspective, threading with STM does necessitate guarantees of full, alias-free copies of entire graphs of objects. So I guess I disagree with most of your post :o). Andrei
Feb 15 2009
parent reply Rainer Deyke <rainerd eldwood.com> writes:
Andrei Alexandrescu wrote:
 Well I never seemed to have a problem with it, quite the contrary in
 fact. Values are easier to reason about because they don't have aliasing
 and don't foster long-distance interdependencies.

This. When the container is used in a struct, then it must not only be copied, but deep-copied when the outer struct is copied. The same applies when the container is used in a class that has a cloning operation defined. When the container is used in a class that cannot be cloned or is directly placed on the stack, then it doesn't really matter if the container has reference or value semantics, since the variable that holds the container isn't being copied anyway. For those very rare cases where you /want/ the container to be shared, you can always use a pointer to the container. -- Rainer Deyke - rainerd eldwood.com
Feb 15 2009
parent reply Andrei Alexandrescu <SeeWebsiteForEmail erdani.org> writes:
Rainer Deyke wrote:
 Andrei Alexandrescu wrote:
 Well I never seemed to have a problem with it, quite the contrary in
 fact. Values are easier to reason about because they don't have aliasing
 and don't foster long-distance interdependencies.

This. When the container is used in a struct, then it must not only be copied, but deep-copied when the outer struct is copied. The same applies when the container is used in a class that has a cloning operation defined. When the container is used in a class that cannot be cloned or is directly placed on the stack, then it doesn't really matter if the container has reference or value semantics, since the variable that holds the container isn't being copied anyway. For those very rare cases where you /want/ the container to be shared, you can always use a pointer to the container.

Spot on. My ambitions are actually a tad higher. I want to implement containers as by-value structs defining value semantics and the needed primitives. Then, using introspection, I want to define a template Class that takes a struct and turns it into a class. For example: struct SomeContainer(T) { ref T opIndex(size_t n) { ... } } auto byval = SomeContainer!(int)(); auto javalike = new Class!(SomeContainer!(int)); The type Class!(SomeContainer!(int)) will store a SomeContainer!(int) object and will define (by using introspection) a method opIndex of which implementation will do what the struct's method does. The net effect is as if the programmer sat down with SomeContainer and changed "struct" to "class". Of course without the code duplication and the maintenance nightmare :o). Class should work for primitive types, e.g. Class!(int) should do what Integer does in Java and so on. Andrei
Feb 15 2009
parent reply Frits van Bommel <fvbommel REMwOVExCAPSs.nl> writes:
Andrei Alexandrescu wrote:
 Spot on. My ambitions are actually a tad higher. I want to implement 
 containers as by-value structs defining value semantics and the needed 
 primitives. Then, using introspection, I want to define a template Class 
 that takes a struct and turns it into a class. For example:
 
 struct SomeContainer(T)
 {
     ref T opIndex(size_t n) { ... }
 }
 
 auto byval = SomeContainer!(int)();
 auto javalike = new Class!(SomeContainer!(int));
 
 The type Class!(SomeContainer!(int)) will store a SomeContainer!(int) 
 object and will define (by using introspection) a method opIndex of 
 which implementation will do what the struct's method does. The net 
 effect is as if the programmer sat down with SomeContainer and changed 
 "struct" to "class". Of course without the code duplication and the 
 maintenance nightmare :o).
 
 Class should work for primitive types, e.g. Class!(int) should do what 
 Integer does in Java and so on.

An interesting idea. Would Class!(T) allow polymorphism, or would all methods be implicitly final? Would it also delegate template methods? And what would happen to any T methods accepting or returning T? Would they keep returning T or would they be replaced by Class!(T)? Or perhaps both, through overloading? Same question for types derived from T (e.g. Nullable!(T), or SomeContainer!(T))? For instance in the case of a container it would be nice to allow Class!(LinkedList!(T)).splice!(Class!(LinkedList!(T)) other) if there's a LinkedList!(T).splice(LinkedList(T) other). If such unwrapping were done, how would such methods react if the Class!(LinkedList!(T)) passed into slice() were null?
Feb 15 2009
parent reply Andrei Alexandrescu <SeeWebsiteForEmail erdani.org> writes:
Frits van Bommel wrote:
 Andrei Alexandrescu wrote:
 Spot on. My ambitions are actually a tad higher. I want to
 implement containers as by-value structs defining value semantics
 and the needed primitives. Then, using introspection, I want to
 define a template Class that takes a struct and turns it into a
 class. For example:
 
 struct SomeContainer(T) { ref T opIndex(size_t n) { ... } }
 
 auto byval = SomeContainer!(int)(); auto javalike = new
 Class!(SomeContainer!(int));
 
 The type Class!(SomeContainer!(int)) will store a
 SomeContainer!(int) object and will define (by using introspection)
 a method opIndex of which implementation will do what the struct's
 method does. The net effect is as if the programmer sat down with
 SomeContainer and changed "struct" to "class". Of course without
 the code duplication and the maintenance nightmare :o).
 
 Class should work for primitive types, e.g. Class!(int) should do
 what Integer does in Java and so on.

An interesting idea. Would Class!(T) allow polymorphism, or would all methods be implicitly final?

Polymorphic. Then of course there's the Finalize!(C) template that takes a class C and makes all of its methods final. Compile-time introspection is a treasure trove.
 Would it also delegate template methods?

Good question. I don't know how template methods could be handled.
 And what would happen to any T methods accepting or returning T?
 Would they keep returning T or would they be replaced by Class!(T)?
 Or perhaps both, through overloading? Same question for types derived
 from T (e.g. Nullable!(T), or SomeContainer!(T))?

I don't know. We need more experience to figure that out.
 For instance in the case of a container it would be nice to allow 
 Class!(LinkedList!(T)).splice!(Class!(LinkedList!(T)) other) if
 there's a LinkedList!(T).splice(LinkedList(T) other).
 
 If such unwrapping were done, how would such methods react if the 
 Class!(LinkedList!(T)) passed into slice() were null?

Segfault :o). Andrei
Feb 15 2009
next sibling parent Frits van Bommel <fvbommel REMwOVExCAPSs.nl> writes:
Andrei Alexandrescu wrote:
 Frits van Bommel wrote:
 Andrei Alexandrescu wrote:
 Spot on. My ambitions are actually a tad higher. I want to
 implement containers as by-value structs defining value semantics
 and the needed primitives. Then, using introspection, I want to
 define a template Class that takes a struct and turns it into a
 class. For example:

 struct SomeContainer(T) { ref T opIndex(size_t n) { ... } }

 auto byval = SomeContainer!(int)(); auto javalike = new
 Class!(SomeContainer!(int));

 The type Class!(SomeContainer!(int)) will store a
 SomeContainer!(int) object and will define (by using introspection)
 a method opIndex of which implementation will do what the struct's
 method does. The net effect is as if the programmer sat down with
 SomeContainer and changed "struct" to "class". Of course without
 the code duplication and the maintenance nightmare :o).

 Class should work for primitive types, e.g. Class!(int) should do
 what Integer does in Java and so on.

An interesting idea. Would Class!(T) allow polymorphism, or would all methods be implicitly final?

Polymorphic. Then of course there's the Finalize!(C) template that takes a class C and makes all of its methods final. Compile-time introspection is a treasure trove.
 Would it also delegate template methods?

Good question. I don't know how template methods could be handled.

Well, one simple way would be to just implement opDot() to take care of those :). (Though that would not allow my wrapping suggestion) Another way would be pressuring Walter into allowing compile-time introspection of templates, and providing forwarding aliases or methods (possibly wrapping parameters and return types).
 And what would happen to any T methods accepting or returning T?
 Would they keep returning T or would they be replaced by Class!(T)?
 Or perhaps both, through overloading? Same question for types derived
 from T (e.g. Nullable!(T), or SomeContainer!(T))?

I don't know. We need more experience to figure that out.
 For instance in the case of a container it would be nice to allow 
 Class!(LinkedList!(T)).splice!(Class!(LinkedList!(T)) other) if
 there's a LinkedList!(T).splice(LinkedList(T) other).

 If such unwrapping were done, how would such methods react if the 
 Class!(LinkedList!(T)) passed into slice() were null?

Segfault :o).

I was hoping you'd answer "They'd use non-nullable parameter types" here ;).
Feb 15 2009
prev sibling parent Max Samukha <samukha voliacable.com.removethis> writes:
On Sun, 15 Feb 2009 13:25:24 -0800, Andrei Alexandrescu
<SeeWebsiteForEmail erdani.org> wrote:

Frits van Bommel wrote:
 Andrei Alexandrescu wrote:
 Spot on. My ambitions are actually a tad higher. I want to
 implement containers as by-value structs defining value semantics
 and the needed primitives. Then, using introspection, I want to
 define a template Class that takes a struct and turns it into a
 class. For example:
 
 struct SomeContainer(T) { ref T opIndex(size_t n) { ... } }
 
 auto byval = SomeContainer!(int)(); auto javalike = new
 Class!(SomeContainer!(int));
 
 The type Class!(SomeContainer!(int)) will store a
 SomeContainer!(int) object and will define (by using introspection)
 a method opIndex of which implementation will do what the struct's
 method does. The net effect is as if the programmer sat down with
 SomeContainer and changed "struct" to "class". Of course without
 the code duplication and the maintenance nightmare :o).
 
 Class should work for primitive types, e.g. Class!(int) should do
 what Integer does in Java and so on.

An interesting idea. Would Class!(T) allow polymorphism, or would all methods be implicitly final?

Polymorphic. Then of course there's the Finalize!(C) template that takes a class C and makes all of its methods final. Compile-time introspection is a treasure trove.

It is, but in this particular case why not inherit from C and make the derived class final?
 Would it also delegate template methods?

Good question. I don't know how template methods could be handled.
 And what would happen to any T methods accepting or returning T?
 Would they keep returning T or would they be replaced by Class!(T)?
 Or perhaps both, through overloading? Same question for types derived
 from T (e.g. Nullable!(T), or SomeContainer!(T))?

I don't know. We need more experience to figure that out.
 For instance in the case of a container it would be nice to allow 
 Class!(LinkedList!(T)).splice!(Class!(LinkedList!(T)) other) if
 there's a LinkedList!(T).splice(LinkedList(T) other).
 
 If such unwrapping were done, how would such methods react if the 
 Class!(LinkedList!(T)) passed into slice() were null?

Segfault :o). Andrei

Feb 15 2009
prev sibling next sibling parent reply Jerry Quinn <jlquinn optonline.net> writes:
dsimcha Wrote:

 == Quote from Andrei Alexandrescu (SeeWebsiteForEmail erdani.org)'s article
 Walter and I have been discussing what the regime of statically-sized
 arrays should be. In short, the behavior that's most consistent with
 everything else is to treat them as values.
 This also brings the problems of e.g. containers - should they have
 consistent value semantics (like in STL)

Oh God no! I always thought the value semantics of STL containers were largely a kludge to work around the fact that C++ doesn't have garbage collection. They make it easier to use RAII for memory management, since every object has a clear owner. This leads to tons and tons of copying if code is written the obvious way, and lots of kludges to prevent it.

On the other hand, for relatively small objects, the last thing I want is to have everything be a reference. This is one of the major flaws of Java, I think, from a memory efficiency standpoint. I'd hate to have to have references to 16 byte objects if I don't need the sharing behavior. Having classes with reference semantics in D largely solves this issue, doesn't it? Use a class when you have things that make sense to share, and use structs for when it makes more sense to have distinct copies. Jerry
Feb 15 2009
next sibling parent Andrei Alexandrescu <SeeWebsiteForEmail erdani.org> writes:
Jerry Quinn wrote:
 dsimcha Wrote:
 
 == Quote from Andrei Alexandrescu (SeeWebsiteForEmail erdani.org)'s
 article
 Walter and I have been discussing what the regime of
 statically-sized arrays should be. In short, the behavior that's
 most consistent with everything else is to treat them as values. 
 This also brings the problems of e.g. containers - should they
 have consistent value semantics (like in STL)

were largely a kludge to work around the fact that C++ doesn't have garbage collection. They make it easier to use RAII for memory management, since every object has a clear owner. This leads to tons and tons of copying if code is written the obvious way, and lots of kludges to prevent it.

On the other hand, for relatively small objects, the last thing I want is to have everything be a reference. This is one of the major flaws of Java, I think, from a memory efficiency standpoint. I'd hate to have to have references to 16 byte objects if I don't need the sharing behavior. Having classes with reference semantics in D largely solves this issue, doesn't it? Use a class when you have things that make sense to share, and use structs for when it makes more sense to have distinct copies.

That implies all structs should have copy semantics. I'm not sure whether this is good or bad, I'm just saying :o). Andrei
Feb 15 2009
prev sibling parent reply "Nick Sabalausky" <a a.a> writes:
"Jerry Quinn" <jlquinn optonline.net> wrote in message 
news:gn9i7n$2ujl$1 digitalmars.com...
 Use a class when you have things that make sense to share, and use structs 
 for when it makes more sense to have distinct copies.

Couldn't that rule conflict with cases where you'd want distinct copies but need features of classes that aren't available for structs (like inheritance)?
Feb 15 2009
parent reply Jerry Quinn <jlquinn optonline.net> writes:
Nick Sabalausky Wrote:

 "Jerry Quinn" <jlquinn optonline.net> wrote in message 
 news:gn9i7n$2ujl$1 digitalmars.com...
 Use a class when you have things that make sense to share, and use structs 
 for when it makes more sense to have distinct copies.

Couldn't that rule conflict with cases where you'd want distinct copies but need features of classes that aren't available for structs (like inheritance)?

However, with reference semantics, you have no way to achieve objects laid out in a contiguous array, unless I'm missing something. If you want inheritance, copy semantics are an issue. For example, if you have struct A : B, and an array of B, you can't put an A in it, since there's not enough space for an A (unless A adds 0 storage). If you have an array of A, inheritance isn't really buying you anything over having a B as the first member of A. Any place where you'd want to use A as a B, you can get to the member B struct directly.
Feb 15 2009
parent Rainer Deyke <rainerd eldwood.com> writes:
Jerry Quinn wrote:
 If you want inheritance, copy semantics are an issue.  For example,
 if you have struct A : B, and an array of B, you can't put an A in
 it, since there's not enough space for an A (unless A adds 0
 storage).  If you have an array of A, inheritance isn't really buying
 you anything over having a B as the first member of A.  Any place
 where you'd want to use A as a B, you can get to the member B struct
 directly.

There are really three separate issues here: copy policy, storage policy, and clean-up policy. Copy policy: what are the semantics of 'a = b;'? Reference semantics: 'a' becomes a reference to the same object as 'b'. Value semantics: The object 'b' is copied into 'a'. Storage policy: given 'A a;', where is the object stored? Direct storage: Directly in the variable 'a'. Padded direct storage: Directly in the variable 'a', but with enough padding to also store an object of any subtype of 'A'. Requires that the full set of the subtypes of 'A' be known at compile time. Heap storage: The object is stored on the heap; the variable 'a' merely contains a pointer. Clean-up policy: given 'A a;', when is 'a''s destructor called? RAII: Immediately when 'a' goes out of scope. The object still exists at this point. Garbage collection: Sometime after the last reference to the object is no longer reachable from any global or stack variable. By the time the destructor is called, other objects referenced by the object may already have been destroyed. These three policies are mostly conceptually orthogonal, although garbage collection requires heap storage. Interesting combinations include: Reference semantics, heap storage, garbage collection: Classes in D. Value semantics, direct storage, RAII: Structs in D. Value semantics, padded direct storage, RAII: One possible approach to value types with inheritance but without slicing. Value semantics, heap storage, RAII: Another possible approach to value types with inheritance but without slicing. Reference semantics, heap storage, RAII (with reference counting): Reference types with destructors that actually work. -- Rainer Deyke - rainerd eldwood.com
Feb 15 2009
prev sibling parent "Denis Koroskin" <2korden gmail.com> writes:
On Mon, 16 Feb 2009 00:20:47 +0300, Frits van Bommel  
<fvbommel remwovexcapss.nl> wrote:

 Andrei Alexandrescu wrote:
 Spot on. My ambitions are actually a tad higher. I want to implement  
 containers as by-value structs defining value semantics and the needed  
 primitives. Then, using introspection, I want to define a template  
 Class that takes a struct and turns it into a class. For example:
  struct SomeContainer(T)
 {
     ref T opIndex(size_t n) { ... }
 }
  auto byval = SomeContainer!(int)();
 auto javalike = new Class!(SomeContainer!(int));
  The type Class!(SomeContainer!(int)) will store a SomeContainer!(int)  
 object and will define (by using introspection) a method opIndex of  
 which implementation will do what the struct's method does. The net  
 effect is as if the programmer sat down with SomeContainer and changed  
 "struct" to "class". Of course without the code duplication and the  
 maintenance nightmare :o).
  Class should work for primitive types, e.g. Class!(int) should do what  
 Integer does in Java and so on.

An interesting idea. Would Class!(T) allow polymorphism, or would all methods be implicitly final? Would it also delegate template methods? And what would happen to any T methods accepting or returning T? Would they keep returning T or would they be replaced by Class!(T)? Or perhaps both, through overloading? Same question for types derived from T (e.g. Nullable!(T), or SomeContainer!(T))? For instance in the case of a container it would be nice to allow Class!(LinkedList!(T)).splice!(Class!(LinkedList!(T)) other) if there's a LinkedList!(T).splice(LinkedList(T) other). If such unwrapping were done, how would such methods react if the Class!(LinkedList!(T)) passed into slice() were null?

You can't do that, because splice accepts non-nullable argument :)
Feb 16 2009
prev sibling next sibling parent Jason House <jason.james.house gmail.com> writes:
Andrei Alexandrescu wrote:

 Walter and I have been discussing what the regime of statically-sized
 arrays should be. In short, the behavior that's most consistent with
 everything else is to treat them as values.

I'm curious, what use cases did you discuss? I don't know of any functions where a statically sized array is passed in, so the whole ref vs. value has no meaning for the cases I'm aware of.
 This also brings the problems of e.g. containers - should they have
 consistent value semantics (like in STL) or consistent reference
 semantics (like in Java)? Or both, subject to a policy parameter?

I don't know about others, but I always pass around STL containers as either a reference or a const reference. C++ is designed to allow everything be passed by value, but with little guarantee of what will happen. It's up to the programmer to know what they're doing. At least reference semantics are consistent...
 At any rate, it looks like the days of cheap by-value copying are over.
 Even today, large structs become onerous to pass by value. If copy
 constructors start being used, we can't simply assume that copying
 things around is not a problem.
 
 Today we use:
 
 void fun(T)(T value) { ... }
 
 or
 
 void fun(T)(ref T value) { ... }

Don't forget void fun(T)(in T value) { ... }
 to make a choice in parameter passing. But neither is perfect. The
 former copies too much, and the latter does not accept rvalues. C++ has
 found a solution to this problem in the guise of references to const
 objects. Those can accept lvalues and rvalues alike. It looked like a
 good solution at the time, but it's caused huge issues in other areas of
 the language, which ultimately led to a complicated feature called
 rvalue references. So I'd like to veer a different way.

I'd love to see some concrete examples of where that went wrong for C++. If not, it's tough to judge what benefit alternatives provide.
 I was thinking of something like:
 
 void fun(T)(ref? T value) { ... }
 
 This really generates two overloads:
 
 void fun(T)(ref T value) { ... }
 void fun(T)(T value) { return (cast(void (ref T)) fun)(value); }

Based on those two overloads, it appears the first can modify value, but the effect on the caller will still depend on if T is either a value or reference type. This style of strange behavior seems really dangerous to me.
Feb 15 2009
prev sibling parent "Denis Koroskin" <2korden gmail.com> writes:
On Sun, 15 Feb 2009 18:50:13 +0300, Andrei Alexandrescu
<SeeWebsiteForEmail erdani.org> wrote:

 Walter and I have been discussing what the regime of statically-sized  
 arrays should be. In short, the behavior that's most consistent with  
 everything else is to treat them as values.

 This also brings the problems of e.g. containers - should they have  
 consistent value semantics (like in STL) or consistent reference  
 semantics (like in Java)? Or both, subject to a policy parameter?

 At any rate, it looks like the days of cheap by-value copying are over.  
 Even today, large structs become onerous to pass by value. If copy  
 constructors start being used, we can't simply assume that copying  
 things around is not a problem.

 Today we use:

 void fun(T)(T value) { ... }

 or

 void fun(T)(ref T value) { ... }

 to make a choice in parameter passing. But neither is perfect. The  
 former copies too much, and the latter does not accept rvalues. C++ has  
 found a solution to this problem in the guise of references to const  
 objects. Those can accept lvalues and rvalues alike. It looked like a  
 good solution at the time, but it's caused huge issues in other areas of  
 the language, which ultimately led to a complicated feature called  
 rvalue references. So I'd like to veer a different way.

 I was thinking of something like:

 void fun(T)(ref? T value) { ... }

 This really generates two overloads:

 void fun(T)(ref T value) { ... }
 void fun(T)(T value) { return (cast(void (ref T)) fun)(value); }

 meaning that there are two fun instantiations, one actually doing the  
 work, and the other just forwarding rvalues to it.

 There's one little extra thing that the feature does. A function may  
 want to return its incoming argument, in which case it might say:

 ref? T fun(T)(ref? T value) { ... return value; }

 in which case the generated code is:

 ref T fun(T)(ref T value) { ... }
 T fun(T)(T value) { return (cast(void (ref T)) fun)(value); }

 I wanted to discuss this to gather more ideas and insights on the topic.


 Andrei

Yay, const?(char)[] substr(const?(char)[] str, int from, int to) { return str[from..to]; } That's what I saw in your proposal :)
Feb 15 2009