Optimizing Immutable and Purity

Andrei Alexandrescu SeeWebsiteForEmail at erdani.org
Wed Dec 24 08:07:01 PST 2008

Walter Bright wrote:
> Andrei Alexandrescu wrote:
>> Walter Bright wrote:
>>> Andrei Alexandrescu wrote:
>>>> Bill Baxter wrote:
>>>>> On Tue, Dec 23, 2008 at 11:30 AM, Jerry Quinn 
>>>>> <jlquinn at optonline.net> wrote:
>>>>>> This was an interesting read.  It would be nice to see a 
>>>>>> discussion of how const is going to fit in in terms of 
>>>>>> optimization potential, since you can always cast it away.
>>>>> It's basically useless for optimizations I think.
>>>>> Even if the view of the data you have is const, someone else might
>>>>> have a non-const view of the same data.
>>>>> So for instance, if you call any function, your "const" data could
>>>>> have been changed via non-const global pointers to the same data.
>>>>> --bb
>>>> Const is still useful because inside a function you know for sure 
>>>> that another thread can't modify the data.
>>> I think you meant immutable.
>> I meant const.
> In the future, of course, "shared const" means another thread can modify 
> it, but "const" means it cannot. Is that what you meant?

Here's an example:

int foo(const int*);

void bar() {
     int a = 5;
     // can assume a is unmodified?

There are two issues here. One is that the const guarantees that foo 
does not legally change a, so it is useful for an optimization (e.g. 
assume that a == 5 after the call to foo). The second issue is that 
compilers often assume that a function call may change the stack of the 
caller in an arbitrary way. I think it is safe to lift that assumption 
for D programs and consider a functions' automatic variables as private 
to the function.


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