Prototype of Ownership/Borrowing System for D

mipri mipri at
Fri Nov 22 06:43:01 UTC 2019

On Friday, 22 November 2019 at 04:55:57 UTC, Walter Bright wrote:
> On 11/21/2019 4:28 AM, Jacob Carlborg wrote:
>> On Thursday, 21 November 2019 at 11:10:28 UTC, Walter Bright 
>> wrote:
>>> I would find that to be annoying, as the CPU hardware checks 
>>> it before dereferencing it, too, for free.
>> Why would you wait until runtime when the compiler can do it 
>> at compile time?
> The antecedent said "it forces you to check a pointer
> before you dereference it"

I'd sell it not as "it forces you to test" but "it reliably
promotes nullable types to non-nullable types when this is safe"

Kotlin example:

   fun Int.test() = println("definitely not null")
   fun Int?.test() = println("could be null")

   fun main() {
       val n: Int? = 10
       if (n != null)


   could be null
   definitely not null

So if you test a nullable type for null, everything else in the
control path works with a non-nullable type. The effect on the
program is that instead of having defensive tests throughout your
program, you can have islands of code that definitely don't have 
test, and only have the tests exactly where you need them. If you
go too far in not having tests, the compiler will catch this as an

I've never used TypeScript, but Kotlin's handling of nullable 
is nice to the point I'd rather use the billion dollar mistake 
an optional type.

IMO what's really exciting about this though is that the compiler
smarts that you need for it are *just short* of what you'd need 
refinement types, so instead of just

   T?  <-- it could be T or null

you can have

   T(5) <-- this type is statically known to be associated with the
            number 5.

And functions can be defined so that it's a compile-time error to
pass a value to them without, somewhere in the statically known
control path, doing something that associates them with 5.

Similarly to how you can't just hand a char[4] to a D function 
a signature that's asking for a char[5] - but for any type, for 
purpose, and with automatic promotion of a char[???] to char[5] in
the same manner that Kotlin promotes Int? to Int

Add a SAT solver, and "this array is associated with a number that
is definitely less than whatever this size_t is associated with",
and you get compile-time guarantees that you don't need bounds
checking for definite control paths in your program. That's cool.
ATS does that: it's a compile-time error in ATS to look at argv[2]
without checking argc.

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