[swift-evolution] What about garbage collection?

Austin Zheng austinzheng at gmail.com
Mon Feb 8 14:35:08 CST 2016

(Sorry, Felix; I screwed up my original email and didn't send it to the

Having the option of a GC would be interesting, but one consideration among
many: how would it work with the COW value type collections? It seems those
would rule out a tracing garbage collector in practice, and the only 'real'
option would be RC + a cycle detector?

On Mon, Feb 8, 2016 at 11:56 AM, Félix Cloutier <swift-evolution at swift.org>

> Has there been a garbage collection thread so far? I understand that
> reference counting vs. garbage collection can be a heated debate, but it
> might be relevant to have it.
> It seems to me that the two principal upsides of reference counting are
> that destruction is (essentially) deterministic and performance is more
> easily predicted. However, it comes with many downsides:
>    - object references are expensive to update
>    - object references cannot be atomically updated
>    - heap fragmentation
>    - the closure capture syntax uses up an unreasonable amount of
>    mindshare just because of [weak self]
> Since Swift doesn't expose memory management operations outside of
> `autoreleasepool`, it seems to me that you could just drop in a garbage
> collector instead of reference counting and it would work (for most
> purposes).
> Has a GC been considered at all?
> Félix
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