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This version attempts to clean up the previous one. I've tried to
address the various remarks and special cases by cleaning up the
description. I think the prose is still turgid and there are likely the
usual typos, but... Comments please.

I think this is my last message until after Thanksgiving. I hope you
will have (or have had) a pleasant one.
If you can't tell, I've been going thru the open issues alphabetically.
Feel free to respond to any of the open issues, of course.

References:    CLtL p. 99 (generalized variables)
               p. 270 (PUSH)
               All macros that manipulate generalized variables
               ROTATEF, and all macros defined by DEFINE-MODIFY-MACRO).
               Issue SETF-FUNCTION-VS-MACRO.
Category:      CLARIFICATION
Edit History:  Version 1, 15-Oct-87, Jeff Peck
               Version 2, 23-Oct-87, Larry Masinter
               Version 3, 8-Nov-87, David Moon 
               Version 4, 14-Nov-87, Larry Masinter 
               Version 5, 25-Nov-87, Larry Masinter

Problem Description:

In the form (PUSH (ref1) (CAR (ref2))) It is unclear whether (ref1)
should be evaluated before (ref2). 

CLtL, page 99, in a discussion of generalized variable macros, states: 

"Macros that manipulate generalized variables must guarantee the
`obvious' semantics: subforms of generalized-variable references are
evaluated ... in exactly the same order as they appear in the *source*
program. The expansion of these macros must consist of code that follows
these rules or has the same effect as such code.  This is accomplished
by introducing temporary variables bound to the subforms of the

This paragraph and a discussion of SETF on the previous pages may also
be interpreted as requiring that *all* subforms of such macro calls
should be evaluated once, in source order, left to right.

However, CLtL, page 270 states:

"The effect of (PUSH Item Place) is roughly equivalent to

    (SETF Place (CONS Item Place))

except that the latter would evaluate any subforms of Place twice while
PUSH takes care to evaluate them only once."

Place and Item appear in different order in the PUSH form and the
indicated equivalent SETF form.  Should the PUSH form have primacy over
the obvious SETF form with respect to the left-to-right evaluation?

Are all subforms in a macro call guaranteed to be evaluated in order, or
only those subforms representing generalized variable references?

The same question arises for other forms which manipulate generalized
variables, e.g., PUSHNEW, INCF, DECF, and those defined with


This proposal is hard to state, although the intent is fairly clear:
evalution proceeds from left to right whenever possible. The
left-to-right rule does not remove the obligation on writers of macros
and define-setf-method  to ensure left-to-right order, however. 

In this proposal, a form is something whose syntactic use is such that
it will be evaluated. A "subform" means a form that is nested inside
another form -- not any object nested inside a form regardless of
syntactic context. 

(1) The evaluation ordering of subforms within a generalized variable
reference is determined by the order specified by the second value
returned by GET-SETF-METHOD. For all predefined generalized variable
references (GETF, LDB), this order of evaluation is exactly
left-to-right. When a generalized variable reference is derived from a
macro expansion, this rule is applied *after* the macro is expanded to
find the appropriate generalized variable reference. 

This is intended to make it clear that if the user writes a DEFMACRO or
DEFINE-SETF-METHOD that doesn't preserve order, the the order specified
in the user's code holds; e.g., given 
 that (PUSH <value> (WRONG-ORDER <place1> <place2>)).

will evaluate <place2> first and then <place1> because that is the order
they are evaluated in the macro expansion.
(2) For the macros that manipulate generalized variables (PUSH, PUSHNEW,
defined with DEFINE-MODIFY-MACRO) the subforms of the macro call are
evaluated exactly once in left to right order, with the subforms of the
generalized variable references evaluted in the order specified in (1).

evaluate all subforms before modifying any of the generalized variable
locations. SETF (in the case when the SETF macro has more than two
arguments) performs its operation on each pair in sequence, i.e., in
(SETF <place1> <value1> <place2> <value2> ...), the subforms of <place1>
and <value1> are evaluated, the location specified by <place1> is
modified to contain the value returned by <value1>, and then the rest of
the SETF form is processed in a like manner.

(3) For the macros CHECK-TYPE, CTYPECASE, and CCASE, subforms of the
generalized variable reference are evaluted once as in (1), but may be
evaluted again if the type check files in the case of CHECK-TYPE or none
of the cases hold in CTYPECASE and CCASE.

(4) For the macro ASSERT, the order of evaluation of the generalized
variable references is not specified.  

(Rules 2, 3 and 4 cover all macros defined in Common Lisp that
manupulate generalized variable references.)


(LET ((REF2 (LIST '())))
       (CAR (PROGN (PRINC "2") REF2))))

Under this proposal, this would be required to print 12 and not 21.

(LET (X)
         (CAR (SETQ X (LIST 'B))))

; the PUSH first evalutes (SETQ X (LIST 'A)) =>  (A)
; then evaluates (SETQ X (LIST 'B)) => (B)
; then modifies the CAR of (this latest value) to be ((A) . B).
; The result is (((A) . B)). 

Documentation impact:

PUSH should more appropriately be described as:

"(PUSH Item Place) is roughly equivalent to (SETF Place (CONS Item
Place)) except that the subforms of Place are evaluated only once, and
Item is evaluated before Place."

The phase "subforms of the reference" which appears several times in
CLtL should be made more specific to be "subforms of the macro call,"
referring to the entire form that calls the generalized-variable
manipulating macro.


This is the unstated intention of the page 97-100 discussion of
generalized-variable referencing macros, and indeed the intended
definition of "obvious semantics" for all macros.

Current practice:

Many implementations do not currently follow this evaluation order. In
the form (PUSH Item Place), Lucid, Franz, Kyoto and Xerox evaluate Place
then Item. Symbolics evaluates Item then Place.

For example, in Franz:

(macroexpand '(push (ref1) (car (ref2))))

    (LET* ((#:G8 (REF2))
           (#:G7 (CONS (REF1) (CAR #:G8))))
      (EXCL::.INV-CAR #:G8 #:G7)) 
In Symbolics Common Lisp, it returns:
    (LET* ((#:G5 (REF1))
           (#:G4 (REF2)))
      (SYS:RPLACA2 #:G4 (VALUES (CONS #:G5 (CAR #:G4)))))

Cost to implementors:

Minimal, PUSH etc. could simply be defined by the appropriate macros.

Cost to users:

No currently portable program should be affected. However, this is a
minor incompatible change for some implementations. No serious
performance impact is expected; while some macro expansions may appear
to be more verbose, most compilers deal reasonably with the required
order of evaluation.


The implementation and semantics of PUSH become more well specified.
This removes a source of non-portability, abeit likely rare.


Common Lisp defines order of evaluation as left-to-right; this
clarification ensures consistency across the language. 


This seems to be the intent of most of the relevant language in CLtL.

For example, the second to last paragraph on page 99

  "As an example of these semantic rules, in the generalized-variable
  reference (setf reference value), the value form must be evaluated
  after all the subforms of the reference because the value form
  appears to the right of them."

makes it clear that in this context the phrase "generalized-variable
reference" was meant to refer to the entire macro call, not just the
Place, and that order of evaluation rules are not limited to subforms of
Places.  We hope the specification should adopt more consistent

Note that DEFINE-SETF-METHOD is immune to the exception specified about
DEFMACRO and DEFINE-SETF-METHOD, because since CLtL p.103 says about

"This binding permits the body forms to be written without regard for
order-of-evaluation issues."