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  • ralphbecket
    Post count: 9
    in reply to: Execution #3301

    I’ve seen mention in these fora that the Mill provides some support for garbage collectors. I’d like to ask a few questions on the topic if I may.

    (1) Garbage collection typically involves a “stop the world” event where threads in the mutator are temporarily suspended, at least for the purposes of identifying roots. Stopping the world can be quite costly. Does the Mill offer any special support in this regard?

    (2) Each concurrently executing thread may have pointers sitting on its belt. How can the GC get access to these during root marking?

    (3) Many collectors compact memory. Since pointers can live on the belt and/or may have been squirreled away by the spiller, how should the GC take this into account?

    Apologies for asking more than one question in a single post, but they are closely related.

  • ralphbecket
    Post count: 9
    in reply to: Simulation #1688

    # Flom – a Functional Language on the Mill

    Ralph Becket at outlook dot com, 2-Feb-2015

    I considered calling this “Mill Functional”, but that had an unfortunate contraction of its name.

    ## Introduction

    The [Mill]( is a new CPU architecture. The designers have invited curious parties to propose a simple language to be compiled or interpreted under simulation. Real Programmers use functional languages and this is my contribution.

    Flom is a statically typed, strict functional programming language in the vein of [Core Haskell]( as used in GHC (although GHC’s Core is, of course, lazy). Some of the implementation ideas I have taken from my experience developing the [Mercury]( compiler.

    The goal is to produce something useful, which can be implemented reasonably efficiently with modest effort, and which can be later extended largely via syntactic sugar.

    ## Some examples

    If you’re familiar with Haskell or ML or F#, these examples are standard. (The syntax is somewhat conjectural and the reader is invited to use their imagination to fill in any gaps.)

    ### Fibonacci

    The slow way:

        let fib n = if n < 2 then 1 else (fib (n - 1)) + (fib (n - 2))

    The quick way:

        let fib n =
            let fib' n i j = if n <= 1 then i else fib (n - 1) j (i + j)
            in fib' n 1 1

    ### Lists

        // All introduced types are either type synonyms or 
        // discriminated unions (aka algebraic data types).
        // Types can take type parameters, as here.
        type list T = nil
                    | cons T (list T)
        let len xs =
            case xs of nil        = 0
                    |  cons _ xs' = 1 + (len xs')
        let map f xs = 
            case xs of nil       = nil
                    | cons x xs' = cons (f x) (map f xs')
        let foldr f xs z = 
            case xs of nil        = z
                    |  cons x xs' = f x (foldr f xs' z)
        // Note that type constructors are also functions:
        let append xs ys = foldlr cons xs ys
        let filter p xs =
            let f x ys = if p x then cons x ys else ys
            in foldlr f xs nil

    ### Quicksort

        let qsort xs =
            case xs of nil        = nil
                    |  cons x xs' =
                            let as = qsort (filter (> x) xs')
                            let zs = qsort (filter (< x) xs')
                            in append as (cons x zs)

    ## Core Flom and desugaring

        Expr ::= k             // Literal constant; e.g., an integer.
             |   ID            // A named quantity (variable, function, etc.)
             |   Expr Expr ... // Function application   
             |   LetsExpr
             |   CaseExpr
             |   ( Expr )
        LetsExpr ::= LetExpr* in Expr
        LetExpr  ::= let ID ID* = Expr      // Parameters indicate a function.
        CaseExpr ::= case Expr of Pattern | Pattern ...
        Pattern  ::= ID (ID | _) * = Expr   // First ID is the constructor tag;
                 |   _ = Expr               // _ is the "don't care" pattern.
        Type     ::= type ID ID* = ID TypeExpr* | ID TypeExpr* ...
        TypeExpr ::= ID ID*                 // Type constructor or type synonym.

    ### Desugaring if expressions

        if x then y else z

    desugars to

        case x of True = y | _ = z

    ### Desugaring nested expressions

        f (g x)

    desugars to

        let tmp = g x
        in f tmp

    (and likewise for all the other cases until we’re left with nothing else to simplify).

    ### Desugaring currying

    If, say, f is a function of arity three occuring in an application of arity one, then

        f x

    desugars to

        let f' y z = f x y z in f'

    ### Desugaring free variables and local functions

    A free variable is defined here as a name whose value cannot be statically determined. The free variables of a function are desugared away by explicitly constructing and passing an environment argument and lifting the local function definition to the top level. For example,

        let f x y =
            let g a b = a * x + b * y
            in g 11 22

    desugars to

        let f x y =
            let env = tuple2 x y
            in g' env 11 22
        let g' env a b = case env of tuple2 x y = a * x + b * y

    where tuple2 stands for some built-in arity-2 tuple data type.

    ### Other desugaring opportunities

    The usual opportunities exist for adding nicer syntax for, say, lambdas, lists, etc.

    ## Typechecking and type inference

    The type system is plain old Hindley-Milner and [Algorithm W]( will do the trick nicely.

    ## Implementation detail

    [This section is essentially a set of suggestions for writing a reasonably efficient Flom compiler without great effort. The first instance would be a cross-compiler, which ought to be sufficient to craft a native compiler in Flom itself.]

    All atomic values (built-in types such as ints, chars, floats, etc.) occupy space equivalent to a pointer.

    All values constructed via data constructor live on the heap and are referenced by pointer. Each such construction is a vector of pointer-sized words, comprising the data constructor tag followed by any argument values.

    The usual discriminated-union optimisation tricks can all be applied at some point.

    Equality and comparison on atomic values is by identity. Equality and comparison for algebraic data types is lexicographic.

    There is no destructive assignment! Any such facility, including IO, must be provided via functions written in something other than Flom and somehow imported.

    Garbage collection ought to be straightforward, but it isn’t clear to me exactly what is involved with the Mill.

    ### Translation to genAsm

    This is just a sketch… and my grasp of genAsm is wobbly at best. [[e]]v denotes the translation of Flom expression e, bound to genAsm symbol v.

        k   ---> k -: v_k              where k is a constant
        x   ---> v_x                   where x is a function parameter or local
        let x = e                      local or top-level variable
            ---> [[e]]v_x
        case e of patExpr1 | patExpr2 | ...
            ---> [[e]]v_e
                 if [[patExpr1]]v_c elif [[patExpr2]]v_c ... else <disaster!> 
        [[tag x1 x2 ... = e]]v 
            ---> load(v_e, 0) <tag> eql then
                 load(v_e, 1) -: v_x1
                 load(v_e, 2) -: v_x2
        f x1 x2 ...                     function application
            ---> [[x1]]v_x1 [[x2]]v_x2 ...
                 call f v_x1 v_x2 ... -: v_f
                                        N.B.: the simple direct tail recursion
                                        case should be compiled into an ordinary
        ctor x1 x2 ...                  data constructor function
            ---> func ctor(x1, x2, ...):
                 <alloc space>v_c
                 store(v_c, 0, <tag>)
                 store(v_c, 1, x1)
                 store(v_c, 2, x2)
                 retn v_c                        
        let f x1 x2 ... = e             top-level function definition
            ---> func f(x1, x2, ...):
                 retn v
    • This reply was modified 9 years ago by  ralphbecket.
    • This reply was modified 9 years ago by  ralphbecket.
    • This reply was modified 9 years ago by  ralphbecket.
    • This reply was modified 9 years ago by  ralphbecket. Reason: Trying to preserve code formatting
  • ralphbecket
    Post count: 9
    in reply to: Memory #1652

    In this article, under the section on Memory, Dan Luu expresses in passing some skepticism regarding the Mill’s memory model. I’m not savvy enough to follow his reasoning and was hoping someone in the know might be able to comment?

  • ralphbecket
    Post count: 9
    in reply to: Simulation #1647

    I would love to tackle something Lispish, but it pains me to say I couldn’t guarantee the time to do it. Tempt me with a simulator and I might have a go!

    Regarding Scheme’s tail-calls and weird call/cc stuff: for a decade I worked on the Mercury compiler which had several back-ends, typically targetting GCC (there was at least one register-machine like “VM” and at least one native C back-end). For tail calls in the “native” C back-end, we’d resort to using GCC’s “goto label-variable” in various places. Tail recursion was converted into while loops, but non-inlined mutual recursion just left stuff on the stack. I cannot recall an instance where this got us into trouble, and we were running very large Mecury programs (a few commercial enterprises use Mercury as well).

  • ralphbecket
    Post count: 9
    in reply to: Simulation #1644

    Just to stick my oar in, but if the tricks you need to pull to make a decent interpreter exceed those needed to write a naive compiler, why not just write a naive compiler?

    As a languages/compilers enthusiast, Forth has always struck me as an amusing exercise in implementation, but a total pain in the posterior to read or write. Maybe that’s just me.

    I would *really* love it if the first language on the Mill was inspired by the lambda calculus…

  • ralphbecket
    Post count: 9
    in reply to: Execution #3303

    Apologies for the late response: thank you for your answer. This sounds as though it will make GC substantially cheaper in practice and easier to implement. I look forward to someday seeing an implementation.

  • ralphbecket
    Post count: 9
    in reply to: Simulation #1699

    @tomberek – I’m not sure that Flom is intended as a demonstration of the Mill’s cleverness. Rather, my idea was to come up with something that

    • is easy to implement on the Mill (Forth’s dual stacks seems problematic),
    • is comfortable enough for something like real programming,
    • and is amenable to optimisation.

    The simple, regular, statically checked type system of Flom (it’s a stripped-down ML) isn’t just expressive, it makes code generation much simpler and the generated code can be much more efficient.

  • ralphbecket
    Post count: 9
    in reply to: Simulation #1694

    Apologies if this was the wrong spot — I just wanted to keep the discussion going.

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