[racket-dev] [racket] keyword args static checking and optimization

From: Robby Findler (robby at eecs.northwestern.edu)
Date: Mon Aug 8 11:12:36 EDT 2011

On Mon, Aug 8, 2011 at 10:05 AM, Matthew Flatt <mflatt at cs.utah.edu> wrote:
> [Moved to the dev list.]
> At Sat, 06 Aug 2011 07:25:00 -0400, Neil Van Dyke wrote:
>> Feature request... I'd *really* like to see compile-time checking of
>> keyword arguments whenever that is possible.
>> If compiler knows what procedure will be called, and the procedure uses
>> keyword args in the usual way, then I'd like the compiler to report an
>> error when the call site, say, uses a keyword arg that the procedure
>> doesn't support.  Likewise with required keyword args that are missing.
>> As a second feature request, would be nice if, when the compiler (or
>> JIT) can determine the procedure, if it could optimize the keyword args
>> the same as if they were positional args.  I don't know how much the
>> compiler/JIT is doing already, but the static error-checking that it
>> misses make me suspect the compiler is not optimizing this.
> The compiler proper knows nothing about keyword functions and function
> calls. They're implemented by macros and expanded away into plain
> functions and applicable structures.
> Instead, argument checking can be pushed into the macro expansion of
> keyword arguments. The idea is that `(define id <lambda with keyword
> arguments>)' can bind `id' as syntax that checks and optimizes
> first-order uses of `id'.
> In more detail,
>  (define f (lambda (a [b 1] #:c c #:d [d 3]) ....))
> expands to
>  (define (core a have-b? b c have-d? d)
>    (let* ([b (if have-b? b 1)]
>           [d (if have-d? d 3)])
>       ....))
>  (define proc
>    (make-keyword-procedure (lambda .... (core ....))))
>  (define-syntax (f stx)
>    (if ... application looks ok? ....
>        (core ....)   ; direct call; no keyword checking or packaging
>        (begin
>          ... issue warning ...
>          (proc ....)))) ; existing protocol
> so that
>  (f 0 1 #:c 2)
> expands to
>  (core 0 #t 1 2 #f #f)
> The macro approach has some drawbacks:
>  * It's not quite as general as a warning from the compiler's
>   optimization pass, which can detect some higher-order uses through
>   copy propagation and inlining. A first-order check covers most cases
>   in practice, though.
>  * Macros don't compose as nicely. Because of the way that macro
>   expansion is ordered in a definition context, `define' can't force
>   the expansion of its right-hand size to check whether it expands to
>   `lambda'. Instead, `define' can only recognize immediate `lambda'
>   forms. Again, that's probably good enough to be useful in practice.
>  * The `class' and `unit' forms expect `define' to bind a variable and
>   not syntax, because they rewrite definitions based on the connection
>   between an identifier with `define' and an identifier written in a
>   signature or a `public' clause.
>   To avoid this problem, the `define' form can require some
>   cooperation from definition contexts. A definition context that is
>   implemented via `local-expand' declares its willing to work with the
>   non-variable expansion by giving its context representation the
>   `prop:liberal-define-context' property. The internal-definition
>   contexts that are built into `lambda, `let', etc., all set that
>   property, while the `class' and `unit' forms do not.
>  * Reflection creates the usual sort of trouble:
>     (define f (lambda (#:x x) '....))
>     (namespace-variable-value 'f #f #f
>                               (variable-reference->namespace
>                                (#%variable-reference)))
>   I don't mind weakening reflection at this level; it seems ok to say
>   that `define' creates a syntax binding for keyword functions (in a
>   liberal definition context).
>  * Mutation creates deep trouble:
>     (define f (lambda (#:x x) ....))
>     (set! f (lambda (#:y y) y))
>     (f #:y 12)
>   One option is to disallow `set!' on an identifier that is bound to a
>   keyword-accepting procedure. That seems awkward, and it seems like
>   it would compose badly. I'm not as willing to sacrifice `set!' as I
>   am to sacrifice reflection.
>   Another possibility is to redirect the `set!' on `f' to the
>   underlying `proc', and somehow make the optimized call to `core'
>   happen only when `proc' is never mutated. Due to the order of macro
>   expansion, whether `f' is mutated is not necessarily known when a
>   call to `f' is expanded. The expansion of a call to `f' would have
>   to embed the condition that `proc' is not mutated.

How about adding an extra indirection? That is, you can have core be a
simple wrapper function that calls some other function, and have proc
also call that. Then the set! can be redirected to this thing that
both call (you'd probably have to wrap the right hand side of the set!
in some kind of argument protocol adjustment thing but if we're
set!'ing procedures maybe we should have to pay for that).

>   We already have `#%variable-reference' to reflect information about
>   variables into an expressions; to make it work in all definition
>   contexts, `#%variable-reference' must be generalized to work with
>   local variables, but that's a relatively minor change. Then, a
>   `variable-reference-constant?' procedure can report the constantness
>   of a variable.
>   With those pieces, and when redirecting mutations of `f' to `proc',
>   a call to `f' could expand to
>       (if (variable-reference-constant? (#%variable-reference proc))
>           (core ....)
>           (proc .....))
>   In some cases, especially for local bindings, the compiler can
>   statically determine whether a variable is constant and eliminate
>   one of the branches. For module-level variables, the compiler cannot
>   see through `make-keyword-procedure' well enough to determine that
>   `proc' is definitely initialized before it is used.
> I've implemented all of this (not yet pushed). It's more complex than I
> originally hoped, and I'm not yet sure it's worthwhile. Longer term,
> maybe it's better to work on ways for macros to more directly
> communicate with the optimizer.

FWIW, contracts are another usecase for this; if I can "see" that ->'s
arguments are well-known things, then I can do a better job generating
code for it.


Posted on the dev mailing list.