[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]


Accepted, with amendment to use the word "undefined". I presume
that this meant to replace "not specified in the standard." 

Status:	Passed (as amended) Jan 89 X3J13
References:     DEFSTRUCT (CLtL pp 305-320)
Category:       CLARIFICATION
Edit history:   Version 1 by Skona Brittain 07/26/88
		Version 2 by Larry Masinter  7-Jan-89
		Version 3 by Masinter 6-Feb-89 as per Jan 89 X3J13 amendment

Problem Description:

The case of a structure type being redefined is not discussed in CLtL. Is
it legal to redefine a DEFSTRUCT? What happens to DEFSTRUCTS that :INCLUDE
the one defined. What things might be "wired in" in compiled code that
refered to the previous DEFSTRUCT?


Redefining a DEFSTRUCT structure is not portable. The results of doing so
are undefined. 


DEFSTRUCT is intended as "the most efficient" structure class. DEFCLASS
allows much more flexible structures to be defined. Thus, implementations
should be free to "wire in" much of the behavior of a DEFSTRUCT into
compiled code.

The issue of redefinition should be addressed since there are always
consequences that affect use of the structures.

Current Practice:

None of KCL, Lucid, & Symbolics detect a redefinition.

Envos Medley goes to some effort to detect if a new structure is
"compatible" with the old -- e.g., slots might change names, initial
values, but, since the space allocated in an instance is determined by the
:TYPE, an incompatible set of :TYPE forms would cause old instances to be
marked "obsolete". (The TYPE-OF an old instance changes to **OBSOLETE**,
for example.)

Cost to Implementors:

This proposal attempts to be consistent with current practice.

Cost to Users:

It is doubtful that any current programs actually define structures more
than once. Thus, constraints on DEFSTRUCT redefinition primarily affect the
debugging environment.

Cost of Non-Adoption:





Something that is not well-defined and leads to erratic behavior should be
explicitly considered an error.


Common implementation techniques may cause the following behavior if a
DEFSTRUCT is redefined:

If the new DEFSTRUCT is identical to the old DEFSTRUCT except for the
initialization forms for slots,  previous structure objects probably can
continue to be accessed with previously compiled slot accessors. DEFSTRUCT
constructor, test functions are proclaimed INLINE, and if these have
changed, previously compiled occurrences of them may behave unpredictably.

If any change is made to the definiton of the slots (either in number,
name, or :TYPE), attempting to execute a slot accessor of the old
definition may behave unpredictably: if a slot name of the old definition
also names a slot of the new definition, any "compiled" code might use the
old definition instead. 
DEFSTRUCT constructor, test functions may also be proclaimed INLINE, and
may behave unpredictably if previously compiled. In particular, a compiled
occurance of a constructor might have the previously slot initial values
"wired in".

If the new DEFSTRUCT differs from the old in any aspect other than the
initialization forms for slots, the results of attempting to access any old
instance might result in unspecified behavior. For example, if the size of
the structure became considerably shorter, an old accessor might "access
off the end" of an instance of a new object; it might signal an error or
have other unpredictable results.

Masinter supports this proposal.  If users want more flexibility than
DEFSTRUCT allows, they should use DEFCLASS.

Some felt strongly that  just saying it's an error to redefine a structure
but not requiring the error to be signalled will cause users to be confused
by the differing seemingly erratic behavior and code. 

Programming environments are allowed, encouraged, etc. to allow such
redefinition, perhaps with warning messages. It is beyond the scope of the
language standard to define those interactions, except to note that they
are not portable. 

Here's an example where reexecuting an EQUAL DEFSTRUCT might result in
different behavior:

(defvar *token-counter* 0)
(defstruct token (cookie '("unique-string")) (counter (incf

(defvar *first-token* (make-token))

(eql (token-cookie *first-token*) (token-cookie (make-token))) => true

(defstruct token (cookie '("unique-string")) (counter (incf
(eql (token-cookie *first-token*) (token-cookie (make-token))) => false

I.e., even though the second DEFSTRUCT is EQUAL to the first, the
structures are not EQL.

This is related to the compiler issue QUOTE-MAY-COPY, but is not the same
issue, since that proposal isn't proposing that QUOTE might copy its value
*every time* it is executed.

     ----- End Forwarded Messages -----