DIP 1016--ref T accepts r-values--Formal Assessment

Walter Bright newshound2 at digitalmars.com
Thu Jan 31 08:25:41 UTC 2019

On 1/30/2019 5:55 PM, Manu wrote:
>> lets replace 10 with a short variable named: S
> "a short variable named: S" is an lvalue, so why would the rewrite be
> attempted? S must be an rvalue for any rewrite to occur. We're talking
> about rvalues here.

This illustrates why this should be compared with C++. Consider this C++ code:

   const int& foo(const int& x) { return x; }

   const int& test() {
     short s;
     return foo(s);

It compiles with clang++. The code generated for test() is:

         push    RBP
         mov     RBP,RSP
         sub     RSP,010h
         lea     RDI,-8[RBP]
         movsx   EAX,word ptr -2[RBP]
         mov     -8[RBP],EAX
         call    foo
         add     RSP,010h
         pop     RBP

See what it is doing? It's converting s to an int, putting the int into a 
temporary, then passing a reference to that temporary to foo(). So when you ask 
why would a person think that this would happen with the DIP, if they know C++, 
they would assume similar behavior. This is why the DIP needs to specifically 
say this is not the proposed behavior. It is why a comparison to C++ behavior is 
essential. It is a lot easier to understand the DIP if people can apply their 
existing understanding, with a few modifications, to the D behavior. It's also 
necessary to compare with C++ to see if the DIP missed something important, and 
to justify any other behavioral differences.

The interesting question is, since C++ supports this behavior, what about the 
truck-sized hole? The answer is in the declaration of foo(const int&). The const 
is the reason. The referenced value cannot be modified. The realloc example is 
blocked by the compiler.

But the DIP says const ref is not required. Therefore, copying an lvalue to a 
temporary cannot be allowed, therefore implicit conversion of lvalues cannot happen.

Then we're faced with the question of if implicit conversion of lvalues is not 
allowed, should implicit conversion of rvalues be allowed? I'm not so sure it 
should be. For one thing, a lot of people are confused about lvalues vs rvalues, 
and would find the difference in behavior puzzling. For another, it can 
complicate overloading rules. I'd say allowing the conversions needs a strong 

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