Optimizing Immutable and Purity

Andrei Alexandrescu SeeWebsiteForEmail at erdani.org
Wed Dec 24 12:29:39 PST 2008

Jason House wrote:
> Andrei Alexandrescu Wrote:
>> 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;
>>      foo(&a);
>>      // 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.
>> Andrei
> You have to be extremely careful with this kind of thing.  If any calls are made with a mutable &a before the call to foo, that optimization can no longer be performed. Also, if a's type changes and used a custom constructor, then that optimization is unreliable for anything other than taking the object's address. If a mutable reference is leaked, all function calls become suspect...

Care goes without saying.


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