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Another "T style" question

    Date: Tue, 30 Aug 83 23:54:33 EDT
    From: Jim Meehan <Meehan>
    Re:   Another "T style" question

    Topic:  Explicit versus implicit streams.  In T, one must always specify
    the stream  to routines such as READ and PRINT.  An alternative approach
    would be to establish a "currently open  input  stream"  and  "currently
    open output  stream";  the  "stream"  parameter  to READ, PRINT, et al.,
    would then be omitted, as in ur-LISP, or  made  an  optional  parameter.

    Advantages to explicit streams:  You always know where the I/O is coming
    from (going  to)  instead of relying on the kindness of strange routines
    that might have switched streams before you got  called.   The  overhead
    for a fixed number of parameters may be less than for "lexprs."

    Advantages  to  implicit  streams:   You  write  less.   The overhead in
    checking the legitimacy of a stream is paid  once,  at  stream-selection
    time, rather  than every time you refer to the stream in a READ or PRINT
    statement.  If you DO specify a  stream,  then  presumably  the  current
    stream has  to  be  saved  and  restored around your call; i.e., there's
    a penalty for being explicit when the default is to be implicit.

The plan is to one day make the stream argument be optional for
most of the I/O procedures which take a final stream argument.  The
stream argument would default to (STANDARD-INPUT) or (STANDARD-OUTPUT),
so that (PRINT X) would reliably mean the same thing as
(PRINT X (STANDARD-OUTPUT)) [modulo shadowings of the names PRINT and
STANDARD-OUTPUT, of course].

This change will happen when it can be implemented efficiently.  Calling
"lexprs" is not more expensive than calling anything else, but entering
them usually causes the rest-argument to be consed in the heap, which is
not good.  Internally, everything will remain explicit, since global
state almost always leads to awful bugs, and I don't think there are any
particular performance advantages.  There is still some of this lurking
around in the implementation, however, and I eliminate it whenever I get
an opportunity.  I have regretted using global state (i.e. BIND and SET) 
each time I have done so.

This is different from what you suggest because it reduces the implicit
case to the explicit one and not vice-versa, which I think would be
a mistake.  It would NOT be the case that (PRINT X STREAM) was the

    Etc. Of course, this applies  to  other  global/local  issues  as  well,
    such as  input/output  radix  for  numbers,  where  T takes the implicit

I don't quite understand this, since there is no released way for users
to manipulate the i/o radices.  The plan for the future is to make a
radix be a component of read-tables.  Note that read-tables are never
implicit in the way you suggest either, since they are always either
explicitly passed to READ-OBJECT or fetched from the stream by READ's
default method before it calls READ-OBJECT.

As far as I know, all of the system's global state is, at least in
theory, confined to the stream and user interface switches
foo-INPUT/OUTPUT, REPL-foo, and a few peripheral others.  I will do
everything I can to eliminate RECKLESSNESS, which I believe can be made
at least lexical if not explicit.