Sunday, July 17, 2005

Unboxing

I haven't posted here for a few days, as I was modifying my old code for unboxing of integers and floats, and I did not add any new features to the iterative analysis. I did fix a number of old unit tests to compile again with the latest code, but other than that there was nothing noteworthy.

It turns out that unboxing is not as simple as I had assumed. Actually, I never thought about it that much, because the other techniques got most of my attention - so much to do, and so little time. I decided to look into unboxing in depth, because of some undesirable interaction with the iterative analysis (e.g. having to use separate contours for lists with boxed and lists with unboxed integers.)

In the end, I concluded that creating good unboxing support is probably going to take more than just a few days, and, as I don't really have the time for this at the moment, I decided that I will disable the partial unboxing analysis that I have for now. That does not mean no unboxing can be performed: all integers and floats will be unboxed, and a warning will be given whenever they are confused with a pointer type. So for now, it will be the programmer's task not to add such confusions. Templates etc. will still work.

What will not work for now, then, are container objects with integers/floats and pointer types in the same slot, and passing integers/floats into arguments with a pointer type default (such as range(a,b=None) - we will have to provide two builtin C++ functions for this case.) As the latter can't be supported efficiently anyway without generating multiple function duplicates with different defaults, and mixing integers and pointer types for example in a list container is often not a very nice programming style, I feel the compiler could still be pretty useful.

It's always a bad feeling to have to add restrictions to the types of programs the compiler can handle, but hopefully this one will be temporary. In any case, it can still be used to compile programs written in a C++-style to C++. Although this might not sound very impressive, being able to use Python syntax in writing highly efficient programs would still be pretty cool :D

1 comment:

Gef said...

Thanks for that, it's great to see a slightly different persepective on the topic.
BTW have you seen my new pup from Darksky Alaskan Malamutes? He's really a great pup.
Have a great day

George