Skip to main content.


This is the archive for June 2012

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I came out with a good plan to implement pointer-to-item symbols in the Falcon new engine, so I am writing them down to implement them in the next day.

First a bit of context: falcon always used a special item, containing a pointer to another item, to implement the reference-to-item construct. This construct is visible at script level through the $ operator (explicit reference), and is used internally for assignment expansion (a,b,c = vector_of_three_data), pass-by-reference, variable closure and a few more things. The presence of this construct requires every operation to "dereference" its input, causing an extra if-and-ptr-deref practically at each single variable fetch. Performance killing apart, this construct is making me sweat in the implementation of the new dynsyms and varying code constructs; so I decided to get rid of it once and for all.

This requires that every symbol points to a value (an item), instead of being "calculated" as a physical location in a special vector (the globals vector or the local stack); a value that, in some case, can change depending on the context (the same local symbol will point to different items depending on the frame stack where it is accessed).

Traditional solution to this problem was lazy binding of symbols, but this requires a map scan at each access, in the most naive implementations; better solutions have been developed, but they are all sub-optimal with respect to the access by vector base + displacement we use for local variables.