[swift-evolution] [Manifesto] Ownership

John McCall rjmccall at apple.com
Fri Feb 17 02:25:04 CST 2017

Hello, swift-evolution.

Memory ownership is a topic that keeps poking its head up here.  Core team
members have mentioned several times that it's something we're interested in
working on.  Questions sometimes get referred back to it, saying stuff like
"we're working on tools to let you control ARC a little better".  It's even on the
short list of high-priority features for Swift 4:

  https://github.com/apple/swift-evolution <https://github.com/apple/swift-evolution>

  Memory ownership model: an (opt-in) Cyclone/Rust-inspired memory
  ownership model is highly desired by systems programmers and for other
  high-performance applications that want predictable and deterministic
  performance. This feature will fundamentally shape the ABI, from low-level
  language concerns such as "inout" and low-level "addressors" to its impact
  on the standard library. While a full memory ownership model is likely too
  large for Swift 4 stage 1, we need a comprehensive design to understand
  how it will change the ABI.

But that's all pretty vague.  What is ownership?  What does it mean for
programmers?  Is somebody ever going to actually write that comprehensive
design that was supposed to come out during Stage 1?

Well, here you go.

I want to emphasize that this document is two things.  It is a *manifesto*,
because it describes the whole problem and presents a holistic solution to it.
And it is a *meta-proposal*, because that holistic solution imagines and a number
of changes, each of which is worthy of a proposal; it is, essentially, a proposal
that we write a bunch of smaller proposals for each of these changes.  But it's
not actually a concrete proposal for those smaller changes: it's often lacking in
that level of detail, and it leaves a number of questions open.  This document, itself,
will not undergo the formal evolution process.  And it may be that some of these
changes aren't really necessary, or that they need major reconsideration before
they're appropriate for proposal.  But our hope — my hope — is that this
document is sufficient for you to understand the holistic approach we're suggesting,
or at least puts you in a position where you're comfortable asking questions
and trying to figure it out.

So, like I said, this isn't a formal proposal.  What, then, are we hoping to achieve?
Well, we want people to talk about it.  We'd like to achieve a consensus about
whether this basic approach makes sense for the language and achieves its goals.
And, assuming that the consensus is "yes" and that we should go forward with it,
we'd like this document — and this thread — to serve as an introduction to the
topic that we can refer back to when we're proposing and discussing all of those
changes in the weeks to come.

With that said, let's get started.



# Ownership

## Introduction

Adding "ownership" to Swift is a major feature with many benefits
for programmers.  This document is both a "manifesto" and a
"meta-proposal" for ownership: it lays out the basic goals of
the work, describes a general approach for achieving those goals,
and proposes a number of specific changes and features, each of
which will need to be separately discussed in a smaller and more
targeted proposal.  This document is intended to provide a framework
for understanding the contributions of each of those changes.

### Problem statement

The widespread use of copy-on-write value types in Swift has generally
been a success.  It does, however, come with some drawbacks:

* Reference counting and uniqueness testing do impose some overhead.

* Reference counting provides deterministic performance in most cases,
  but that performance can still be complex to analyze and predict.

* The ability to copy a value at any time and thus "escape" it forces
  the underlying buffers to generally be heap-allocated.  Stack allocation
  is far more efficient but does require some ability to prevent, or at
  least recognize, attempts to escape the value.

Certain kinds of low-level programming require stricter performance
guarantees.  Often these guarantees are less about absolute performance
than *predictable* performance.  For example, keeping up with an audio
stream is not a taxing job for a modern processor, even with significant
per-sample overheads, but any sort of unexpected hiccup is immediately
noticeable by users.

Another common programming task is to optimize existing code when something
about it falls short of a performance target.  Often this means finding
"hot spots" in execution time or memory use and trying to fix them in some
way.  When those hot spots are due to implicit copies, Swift's current
tools for fixing the problem are relatively poor; for example, a programmer
can fall back on using unsafe pointers, but this loses a lot of the
safety benefits and expressivity advantages of the library collection types.

We believe that these problems can be addressed with an opt-in set of
features that we collectively call *ownership*.

### What is ownership?

*Ownership* is the responsibility of some piece of code to
eventually cause a value to be destroyed.  An *ownership system*
is a set of rules or conventions for managing and transferring

Any language with a concept of destruction has a concept of
ownership.  In some languages, like C and non-ARC Objective-C,
ownership is managed explicitly by programmers.  In other
languages, like C++ (in part), ownership is managed by the
language.  Even languages with implicit memory management still
have libraries with concepts of ownership, because there are
other program resources besides memory, and it is important
to understand what code has the responsibility to release
those resources.

Swift already has an ownership system, but it's "under the covers":
it's an implementation detail that programmers have little
ability to influence.  What we are proposing here is easy
to summarize:

- We should add a core rule to the ownership system, called
  the Law of Exclusivity, which requires the implementation
  to prevent variables from being simultaneously accessed
  in conflicting ways.  (For example, being passed `inout`
  to two different functions.)  This will not be an opt-in
  change, but we believe that most programs will not be
  adversely affected.

- We should add features to give programmers more control over
  the ownership system, chiefly by allowing the propagation
  of "shared" values.  This will be an opt-in change; it
  will largely consist of annotations and language features
  which programmers can simply not use.

- We should add features to allow programmers to express
  types with unique ownership, which is to say, types that
  cannot be implicitly copied.  This will be an opt-in
  feature intended for experienced programmers who desire
  this level of control; we do not intend for ordinary
  Swift programming to require working with such types.

These three tentpoles together have the effect of raising
the ownership system from an implementation detail to a more
visible aspect of the language.  They are also somewhat
inseparable, for reasons we'll explain, although of course they
can be prioritized differently.  For these reasons, we will
talk about them as a cohensive feature called "ownership".

### A bit more detail

The basic problem with Swift's current ownership system
is copies, and all three tentpoles of ownership are about
avoiding copies.

A value may be used in many different places in a program.
The implementation has to ensure that some copy of the value
survives and is usable at each of these places.  As long as
a type is copyable, it's always possible to satisfy that by
making more copies of the value.  However, most uses don't
actually require ownership of their own copy.  Some do: a
variable that didn't own its current value would only be
able to store values that were known to be owned by something
else, which isn't very useful in general.  But a simple thing
like reading a value out of a class instance only requires that
the instance still be valid, not that the code doing the
read actually own a reference to it itself.  Sometimes the
difference is obvious, but often it's impossible to know.
For example, the compiler generally doesn't know how an
arbitrary function will use its arguments; it just falls
back on a default rule for whether to pass ownership of
the value.  When that default rule is wrong, the program
will end up making extra copies at runtime.  So one simple
thing we can do is allow programs to be more explicit at
certain points about whether they need ownership or not.

That closely dovetails with the desire to support non-copyable
types.  Most resources require a unique point of destruction:
a memory allocation can only be freed once, a file can only
be closed once, a lock can only be released once, and so on.
An owning reference to such a resource is therefore naturally
unique and thus non-copyable.  Of course, we can artificially
allow ownership to be shared by, say, adding a reference count
and only destroying the resource when the count reaches zero.
But this can substantially increase the overhead of working
with the resource; and worse, it introduces problems with
concurrency and re-entrancy.  If ownership is unique, and the
language can enforce that certain operations on a resource
can only be performed by the code that owns the resource,
then by construction only one piece of code can perform those
operations at a time.  As soon as ownership is shareable,
that property disappears.  So it is interesting for the
language to directly support non-copyable types because they
allow the expression of optimally-efficient abstractions
over resources.  However, working with such types requires
all of the abstraction points like function arguments to
be correctly annotated about whether they transfer ownership,
because the compiler can no longer just make things work
behind the scenes by adding copies.

Solving either of these problems well will require us to
also solve the problem of non-exclusive access to variables.
Swift today allows nested accesses to the same variable;
for example, a single variable can be passed as two different
`inout` arguments, or a method can be passed a callback that
somehow accesses the same variable that the method was called on.
Doing this is mostly discouraged, but it's not forbidden,
and both the compiler and the standard library have to bend
over backwards to ensure that the program won't misbehave
too badly if it happens.  For example, `Array` has to retain
its buffer during an in-place element modification; otherwise,
if that modification somehow reassigned the array variable,
the buffer would be freed while the element was still being
changed.  Similarly, the compiler generally finds it difficult
to prove that values in memory are the same at different points
in a function, because it has to assume that any opaque
function call might rewrite all memory; as a result, it
often has to insert copies or preserve redundant loads
out of paranoia.  Worse, non-exclusive access greatly
limits the usefulness of explicit annotations.  For example,
a "shared" argument is only useful if it's really guaranteed
to stay valid for the entire call, but the only way to
reliably satisfy that for the current value of a variable
that can be re-entrantly modified is to make a copy and pass
that instead.  It also makes certain important patterns
impossible, like stealing the current value of a variable
in order to build something new; this is unsound if the
variable can be accessed by other code in the middle.
The only solution to this is to establish a rule that prevents
multiple contexts from accessing the same variable at the
same time.  This is what we propose to do with the Law
of Exclusivity.

All three of these goals are closely linked and mutually
reinforcing.  The Law of Exclusivity allows explicit annotations
to actually optimize code by default and enables mandatory
idioms for non-copyable types.  Explicit annotations create
more optimization opportunities under the Law and enable
non-copyable types to function.  Non-copyable types validate
that annotations are optimal even for copyable types and
create more situations where the Law can be satisfied statically.

### Criteria for success

As discussed above, it is the core team's expectation that
ownership can be delivered as an opt-in enhancement to Swift.
Programmers should be able to largely ignore ownership and not
suffer for it.  If this expectation proves to not be satisfiable,
we will reject ownership rather than imposing substantial
burdens on regular programs.

The Law of Exclusivity will impose some new static and dynamic
restrictions.  It is our belief that these restrictions will only
affect a small amount of code, and only code that does things
that we already document as producing unspecified results.
These restrictions, when enforced dynamically, will also hurt
performance.  It is our hope that this will be "paid for" by
the improved optimization potential.  We will also provide tools
for programmers to eliminate these safety checks where necessary.
We will discuss these restrictions in greater detail later in this

## Core definitions

### Values

Any discussion of ownership systems is bound to be at a lower
level of abstraction.  We will be talking a lot about
implementation topics.  In this context, when we say "value",
we mean a specific instance of a semantic, user-language value.

For example, consider the following Swift code:

  var x = [1,2,3]
  var y = x

People would often say that `x` and `y` have the same value
at this point.  Let's call this a *semantic value*.  But at
the level of the implementation, because the variables `x` and `y`
can be independently modified, the value in `y` must be a
copy of the value in `x`.  Let's call this a *value instance*.
A value instance can be moved around in memory and remain the
same value instance, but a copy always yields a new value instance.
For the remainder of this document, when we use "value" without any
qualification, we mean it in this low-level sense of value instance.

What it means to copy or destroy a value instance depends on the type:

* Some types do not require extra work besides copying their
  byte-representation; we call these *trivial*.  For example,
  `Int` and `Float` are trivial types, as are ordinary `struct`s
  and `enum`s containing only such values.  Most of what we have
  to say about ownership in this document doesn't apply to the
  values of such types.  However, the Law of Exclusivity will still
  apply to them.

* For reference types, the value instance is a reference to an object.
  Copying the value instance means making a new reference, which
  increases the reference count.  Destroying the value instance means
  destroying a reference, which decreases the reference count.  Decreasing
  the reference count can, of course, drop it to zero and thus destroy
  the object, but it's important to remember that all this talk about
  copying and destroying values means manipulating reference counts,
  not copying the object or (necessarily) destroying it.

* For copy-on-write types, the value instance includes a reference to
  a buffer, which then works basically like a reference type.  Again,
  it is important to remember that copying the value doesn't mean
  copying the contents of the buffer into a new buffer.

There are similar rules for every kind of type.

### Memory

In general, a value can be owned in one of two ways: it can be
"in flight", a temporary value owned by a specific execution context
which computed the value as an operand, or it can be "at rest",
stored in some sort of memory.

We don't need to focus much on temporary values because their
ownership rules are straightforward.  Temporary values are created
as the result of some expression; that expression is used in some
specific place; the value is needed in that place and not
thereafter; so the implementation should clearly take all possible
steps to forward the value directly to that place instead of
forcing it to be copied.  Users already expect all of this to
happen, and there's nothing really to improve here.

Therefore, most of our discussion of ownership will center around
values stored in memory.  There are five closely related concepts
in Swift's treatment of memory.

A *storage declaration* is the language-syntax concept of a declaration
that can be treated in the language like memory.  Currently, these are
always introduced with `let`, `var`, and `subscript`.  A storage
declaration has a type.  It also has an implementation which defines
what it means to read or write the storage.  The default implementation
of a `var` or `let` just creates a new variable to store the value,
but storage declarations can also be computed, and so there needn't
be any variables at all behind one.

A *storage reference expression* is the syntax concept of an expression
that refers to storage.  This is similar to the concept from other
languages of an "l-value", except that it isn't necessarily usable on
the left side of an assignment because the storage doesn't have to be

A *storage reference* is the language-semantics concept of a fully
filled-in reference to a specific storage declaration.  In other
words, it is the result of evaluating a storage reference expression
in the abstract, without actually accessing the storage.  If the
storage is a member, this includes a value or storage reference
for the base.  If the storage is a subscript, this includes a value
for the index.  For example, a storage reference expression like
`widgets[i].weight` might abstractly evaluate to this storage reference:

* the storage for the property `var weight: Double` of
* the storage for the subscript `subscript(index: Int)` at index value `19: Int` of
* the storage for the local variable `var widgets: [Widget]`

A *variable* is the semantics concept of a unique place in
memory that stores a value.  It's not necessarily mutable, at least
as we're using it in this document.  Variables are usually created for
storage declarations, but they can also be created dynamically in
raw memory, e.g. using UnsafeRawPointer.  A variable always has a
specific type.  It also has a *lifetime*, i.e. a point in the language
semantics where it comes into existence and a point (or several)
where it is destroyed.

A *memory location* is a contiguous range of addressable memory.  In
Swift, this is mostly an implementation concept.  Swift does not
guarantee that any particular variable will have a consistent memory
location throughout its lifetime, or in fact be stored in a memory
location at all.  But a variable can sometimes be temporarily forced
to exist at a specific, consistent location: e.g. it can be passed
`inout` to `withUnsafeMutablePointer`.

### Accesses

A particular evaluation of a storage reference expression is
called an access.  Accesses come in three kinds: *reads*,
*assignments*, and *modifications*.  Assignments and modifications
are both *writes*, with the difference being that an assignment
completely replaces the old value without reading it, while a
modification does rely on the old value.

All storage reference expressions are classified into one of these
three kinds of access based on the context in which the expression
appears.  It is important to note that this decision is superficial:
it relies only on the semantic rules of the immediate context, not
on a deeper analysis of the program or its dynamic behavior.
For example, a storage reference passed as an `inout` argument
is always evaluated as a modification in the caller, regardless
of whether the callee actually uses the current value, performs
any writes to it, or even refers to it at all.

The evaluation of a storage reference expression is divided into
two phases: it is first formally evaluated to a storage reference,
and then a formal access to that storage reference occurs for some
duration.  The two phases are often evaluated in immediate
succession, but they can be separated in complex cases, such as
when an `inout` argument is not the last argument to a call.
The purpose of this phase division is to minimize the duration of
the formal access while still preserving, to the greatest extent
possible, Swift's left-to-right evaluation rules.

## The Law of Exclusivity

With all of that established, we can succinctly state the first
part of this proposal, the Law of Exclusivity:

> If a storage reference expression evaluates to a storage
> reference that is implemented by a variable, then the formal
> access duration of that access may not overlap the formal
> access duration of any other access to the same variable
> unless both accesses are reads.

This is intentionally vague: it merely says that accesses
"may not" overlap, without specifying how that will be
enforced.  This is because we will use different enforcement
mechanisms for different kinds of storage.  We will discuss
those mechanisms in the next major section.  First, however,
we need to talk in general about some of the implications of
this rule and our approach to satisfying it.

### Duration of exclusivity

The Law says that accesses must be exclusive for their entire
formal access duration.  This duration is determined by the
immediate context which causes the access; that is, it's a
*static* property of the program, whereas the safety problems
we laid out in the introduction are *dynamic*.  It is a general
truth that static approaches to dynamic problems can only be
conservatively correct: there will be dynamically-reasonable
programs that are nonetheless rejected.  It is fair to ask how
that general principle applies here.

For example, when storage is passed as an `inout` argument, the
access lasts for the duration of the call.  This demands
caller-side enforcement that no other accesses can occur to
that storage during the call. Is it possible that this is too
coarse-grained?  After all, there may be many points within the
called function where it isn't obviously using its `inout`
argument.  Perhaps we should track accesses to `inout` arguments
at a finer-grained level, within the callee, instead of attempting
to enforce the Law of Exclusivity in the caller.  The problem
is that that idea is simply too dynamic to be efficiently

A caller-side rule for `inout` has one key advantage: the
caller has an enormous amount of information about what
storage is being passed.  This means that a caller-side rule
can often be enforced purely statically, without adding dynamic
checks or making paranoid assumptions.  For example, suppose
that a function calls a `mutating` method on a local variable.
(Recall that `mutating` methods are passed `self` as an `inout`
argument.)  Unless the variable has been captured in an
escaping closure, the function can easily examine every
access to the variable to see that none of them overlap
the call, thus proving that the rule is satisfied.  Moreover,
that guarantee is then passed down to the callee, which can
use that information to prove the safety of its own accesses.

In contrast, a callee-side rule for `inout` cannot take
advantage of that kind of information: the information is
simply discarded at the point of the call.  This leads to the
widespread optimization problems that we see today, as
discussed in the introduction.  For example, suppose that
the callee loads a value from its argument, then calls
a function which the optimizer cannot reason about:

  extension Array {
    mutating func organize(_ predicate: (Element) -> Bool) {
      let first = self[0]
      if !predicate(first) { return }
      // something here uses first

Under a callee-side rule, the optimizer must copy `self[0]`
into `first` because it must assume (paranoidly) that
`predicate` might somehow turn around and modify the
variable that `self` was bound to.  Under a caller-side
rule, the optimizer can use the copy of value held in the
array element for as long as it can continue to prove that
the array hasn't been modified.

Moreover, as the example above suggests, what sort of code
would we actually be enabling by embracing a callee-side rule?
A higher-order operation like this should not have to worry
about the caller passing in a predicate that re-entrantly
modifies the array.  Simple implementation choices, like
making the local variable `first` instead of re-accessing
`self[0]` in the example above, would become semantically
important; maintaining any sort of invariant would be almost
inconceivable.  It is no surprise that Swift's libraries
generally forbid this kind of re-entrant access.  But,
since the library can't completely prevent programmers
from doing it, the implementation must nonetheless do extra
work at runtime to prevent such code from running into
undefined behavior and corrupting the process.  Because it
exists solely to work around the possibility of code that
should never occur in a well-written program, we see this
as no real loss.

Therefore, this proposal generally proposes access-duration
rules like caller-side `inout` enforcement, which allow
substantial optimization opportunities at little semantic

### Components of value and reference types

We've been talking about *variables* a lot.  A reader might
reasonably wonder what all this means for *properties*.

Under the definition we laid out above, a property is a
storage declaration, and a stored property creates a
corresponding variable in its container.  Accesses to that
variable obviously need to obey the Law of Exclusivity, but are
there any additional restrictions in play due to the fact
that the properties are organized together into a container?
In particular, should the Law of Exclusivity prevent accesses
to different properties of the same variable or value from

Properties can be classified into three groups:
- instance properties of value types,
- instance properties of reference types, and
- `static` and `class` properties on any kind of type.

We propose to always treat reference-type and `static` properties
as independent from one another other, but to treat value-type
properties as generally non-independent outside of a specific
(but important) special case.  That's a potentially significant
restriction, and it's reasonable to wonder both why it's necessary
and why we need to draw this distinction between different
kinds of property.  There are three reasons.

#### Independence and containers

The first relates to the container.

For value types, it is possible to access both an individual
property and the entire aggregate value.  It is clear that an
access to a property can conflict with an access to the aggregate,
because an access to the aggregate is essentially an access to
all of the properties at once.  For example, consider a variable
(not necessarily a local one) `p: Point` with stored properties
`x`, `y`, and `z`.  If it were possible to simultaneously and
independently modify `p` and `p.x`, that would be an enormous
hole in the Law of Exclusivity.  So we do need to enforce the
Law somehow here.  We have three options.

(This may make more sense after reading the main section
about enforcing the Law.)

The first option is to simply treat `p.x` as also an access to `p`.
This neatly eliminates the hole because whatever enforcement
we're using for `p` will naturally prevent conflicting accesses
to it.  But this will also prevent accesses to different
properties from overlapping, because each will cause an access
to `p`, triggering the enforcement.

The other two options involve reversing that relationship.
We could split enforcement out for all the individual stored
properties, not for the aggregate: an access to `p` would be
treated as an access to `p.x`, `p.y`, and `p.z`.  Or we could
parameterize enforcement and teach it to record the specific
path of properties being accessed: "", ".x", and so on.
Unfortunately, there are two problems with these schemes.
The first is that we don't always know the full set of
properties, or which properties are stored; the implementation
of a type might be opaque to us due to e.g. generics or
resilience.  An access to a computed property must be treated
as an access to the whole value because it involves passing
the variable to a getter or setter either `inout` or `shared`;
thus it does actually conflict with all other properties.
Attempting to make things work despite that by using dynamic
information would introduce ubiquitous bookkeeping into
value-type accessors, endangering the core design goal of
value types that they serve as a low-cost abstraction tool.
The second is that, while these schemes can be applied to
static enforcement relatively easily, applying them to
dynamic enforcement would require a fiendish amount of
bookkeeping to be carried out dynamically; this is simply
not compatible with our performance goals.

Thus, while there is a scheme which allows independent access
to different properties of the same aggregate value, it
requires us to be using static enforcement for the aggregate
access and to know that both properties are stored.  This is an
important special case, but it is just a special case.
In all other cases, we must fall back on the general rule
that an access to a property is also an access to the aggregate.

These considerations do not apply to `static` properties and
properties of reference types.  There are no language constructs
in Swift which access every property of a class simultaneously,
and it doesn't even make sense to talk about "every" `static`
property of a type because an arbitrary module can add a new
one at any time.

#### Idioms of independent access

The second relates to user expectations.

Preventing overlapping accesses to different properties of a
value type is at most a minor inconvenience.  The Law of Exclusivity
prevents "spooky action at a distance" with value types anyway:
for example, calling a method on a variable cannot kick off a
non-obvious sequence of events which eventually reach back and
modify the original variable, because that would involve two
conflicting and overlapping accesses to the same variable.

In contrast, many established patterns with reference types
depend on exactly that kind of notification-based update.  In
fact, it's not uncommon in UI code for different properties of
the same object to be modified concurrently: one by the UI and
the other by some background operation.  Preventing independent
access would break those idioms, which is not acceptable.

As for `static` properties, programmers expect them to be
independent global variables; it would make no sense for
an access to one global to prevent access to another.

#### Independence and the optimizer

The third relates to the optimization potential of properties.

Part of the purpose of the Law of Exclusivity is that it
allows a large class of optimizations on values.  For example,
a non-`mutating` method on a value type can assume that `self`
remains exactly the same for the duration of the method.  It
does not have to worry that an unknown function it calls
in the middle will somehow reach back and modify `self`,
because that modification would violate the Law.  Even in a
`mutating` method, no code can access `self` unless the
method knows about it.  Those assumptions are extremely
important for optimizing Swift code.

However, these assumptions simply cannot be done in general
for the contents of global variables or reference-type
properties.  Class references can be shared arbitrarily,
and the optimizer must assume that an unknown function
might have access to the same instance.  And any code in
the system can potentially access a global variable (ignoring
access control).  So the language implementation would
gain little to nothing from treating accesses to different
properties as non-independent.

#### Subscripts

Much of this discussion also applies to subscripts, though
in the language today subscripts are never technically stored.
Accessing a component of a value type through a subscript
is treated as accessing the entire value, and so is considered
to overlap any other access to the value.  The most important
consequence of this is that two different array elements cannot
be simultaneously accessed.  This will interfere with certain
common idioms for working with arrays, although some cases
(like concurrently modifying different slices of an array)
are already quite problematic in Swift.  We believe that we
can mitigate the majority of the impact here with targetted
improvements to the collection APIs.

## Enforcing the Law of Exclusivity

There are three available mechanisms for enforcing the Law of
Exclusivity: static, dynamic, and undefined.  The choice
of mechanism must be decidable by a simple inspection of the
storage declaration, because the definition and all of its
direct accessors must agree on how it is done.  Generally,
it will be decided by the kind of storage being declared,
its container (if any), and any attributes that might be

### Static enforcement

Under static enforcement, the compiler detects that the
law is being violated and reports an error.  This is the
preferred mechanism where possible because it is safe, reliable,
and imposes no runtime costs.

This mechanism can only be used when it is perfectly decidable.
For example, it can be used for value-type properties because
the Law, recursively applied, ensures that the base storage is
being exclusively accessed.  It cannot be used for ordinary
reference-type properties because there is no way to prove in
general that a particular object reference is the unique
reference to an object.  However, if we supported
uniquely-referenced class types, it could be used for their

In some cases, where desired, the compiler may be able to
preserve source compatibility and avoid an error by implicitly
inserting a copy instead.  This likely something we would only
do in a source-compatibility mode.

Static enforcement will be used for:

- immutable variables of all kinds,

- local variables, except as affected by the use of closures
  (see below),

- `inout` arguments, and

- instance properties of value types.

### Dynamic enforcement

Under dynamic enforcement, the implementation will maintain
a record of whether each variable is currently being accessed.
If a conflict is detected, it will trigger a dynamic failure.
The compiler may emit an error statically if it detects that
dynamic enforcement will always detect a conflict.

The bookkeeping requires two bits per variable, using a tri-state
of "unaccessed", "read", and "modified".  Although multiple
simultaneous reads can be active at once, a full count can be
avoided by saving the old state across the access, with a little

The bookkeeping is intended to be best-effort.  It should reliably
detect deterministic violations.  It is not required to detect
race conditions; it often will, and that's good, but it's not
required to.  It *is* required to successfully handle the case
of concurrent reads without e.g. leaving the bookkeeping record
permanently in the "read" state.  But it is acceptable for the
concurrent-reads case to e.g. leave the bookkeeping record in
the "unaccessed" case even if there are still active readers;
this permits the bookkeeping to use non-atomic operations.
However, atomic operations would have to be used if the bookkeeping
records were packed into a single byte for, say, different
properties of a class, because concurrent accesses are
allowed on different variables within a class.

When the compiler detects that an access is "instantaneous",
in the sense that none of the code executed during the access
can possibly cause a re-entrant access to the same variable,
it can avoid updating the bookkeeping record and instead just
check that it has an appropriate value.  This is common for
reads, which will often simply copy the value during the access.
When the compiler detects that all possible accesses are
instantaneous, e.g. if the variable is `private` or `internal`,
it can eliminate all bookkeeping.  We expect this to be fairly

Dynamic enforcement will be used for:

- local variables, when necessary due to the use of closures
  (see below),

- instance properties of class types,

- `static` and `class` properties, and

- global variables.

We should provide an attribute to allow dynamic enforcement
to be downgraded to undefined enforcement for a specific
property or class.  It is likely that some clients will find
the performance consequences of dynamic enforcement to be
excessive, and it will be important to provide them an opt-out.
This will be especially true in the early days of the feature,
while we're still exploring implementation alternatives and
haven't yet implemented any holistic optimizations.

Future work on isolating class instances may allow us to
use static enforcement for some class instance properties.

### Undefined enforcement

Undefined enforcement means that conflicts are not detected
either statically or dynamically, and instead simply have
undefined behavior.  This is not a desireable mechanism
for ordinary code given Swift's "safe by default" design,
but it's the only real choice for things like unsafe pointers.

Undefined enforcement will be used for:

- the `memory` properties of unsafe pointers.

### Enforcement for local variables captured by closures

Our ability to statically enforce the Law of Exclusivity
relies on our ability to statically reason about where
uses occur.  This analysis is usually straightforward for a
local variable, but it becomes complex when the variable is
captured in a closure because the control flow leading to
the use can be obscured.  A closure can potentially be
executed re-entrantly or concurrently, even if it's known
not to escape.  The following principles apply:

- If a closure `C` potentially escapes, then for any variable
  `V` captured by `C`, all accesses to `V` potentially executed
  after a potential escape (including the accesses within `C`
  itself) must use dynamic enforcement unless all such acesses
  are reads.

- If a closure `C` does not escape a function, then its
  use sites within the function are known; at each, the closure
  is either directly called or used as an argument to another
  call.  Consider the set of non-escaping closures used at
  each such call.  For each variable `V` captured by `C`, if
  any of those closures contains a write to `V`, all accesses
  within those closures must use dynamic enforcement, and
  the call is treated for purposes of static enforcement
  as if it were a write to `V`; otherwise, the accesses may use
  static enforcement, and the call is treated as if it were a
  read of `V`.

It is likely that these rules can be improved upon over time.
For example, we should be able to improve on the rule for
direct calls to closures.

## Explicit tools for ownership

### Shared values

A lot of the discussion in this section involves the new concept
of a *shared value*.  As the name suggests, a shared value is a
value that has been shared with the current context by another
part of the program that owns it.  To be consistent with the
Law of Exclusivity, because multiple parts of the program can
use the value at once, it must be read-only in all of them
(even the owning context).  This concept allows programs to
abstract over values without copying them, just like `inout`
allows programs to abstract over variables.

(Readers familiar with Rust will see many similarities between
shared values and Rust's concept of an immutable borrow.)

When the source of a shared value is a storage reference, the
shared value acts essentially like an immutable reference
to that storage.  The storage is accessed as a read for the
duration of the shared value, so the Law of Exclusivity
guarantees that no other accesses will be able to modify the
original variable during the access.  Some kinds of shared
value may also bind to temporary values (i.e. an r-value).
Since temporary values are always owned by the current
execution context and used in one place, this poses no
additional semantic concerns.

A shared value can be used in the scope that binds it
just like an ordinary parameter or `let` binding.
If the shared value is used in a place that requires
ownership, Swift will simply implicitly copy the value —
again, just like an ordinary parameter or `let` binding.

#### Limitations of shared values

This section of the document describes several ways to form
and use shared values.  However, our current design does not
provide general, "first-class" mechanisms for working with them.
A program cannot return a shared value, construct an array
of shared values, store shared values into `struct` fields,
and so on.  These limitations are similar to the existing
limitations on `inout` references.  In fact, the similarities
are so common that it will be useful to have a term that
encompasses both: we will call them *ephemerals*.

The fact that our design does not attempt to provide first-class
facilities for ephemerals is a well-considered decision,
born from a trio of concerns:

- We have to scope this proposal to something that can
  conceivably be implemented in the coming months.  We expect this
  proposal to yield major benefits to the language and its
  implementaton, but it is already quite broad and aggressive.
  First-class ephemerals would add enough complexity to the
  implementation and design that they are clearly out of scope.
  Furthermore, the remaining language-design questions are
  quite large; several existing languages have experimented
  with first-class ephemerals, and the results haven't been
  totally satisfactory.

- Type systems trade complexity for expressivity.
  You can always accept more programs by making the type
  system more sophisticated, but that's not always a good
  trade-off.  The lifetime-qualification systems behind
  first-class references in languages like Rust add a lot
  of complexity to the user model.  That complexity has real
  costs for users.  And it's still inevitably necessary
  to sometimes drop down to unsafe code to work around the
  limitations of the ownership system.  Given that a line
  does have to drawn somewhere, it's not completely settled
  that lifetime-qualification systems deserve to be on the
  Swift side of the line.

- A Rust-like lifetime system would not necessarily be
  as powerful in Swift as it is in Rust.  Swift intentionally
  provides a language model which reserves a lot of
  implementation flexibility to both the authors of types
  and to the Swift compiler itself.

  For example, polymorphic storage is quite a bit more
  flexible in Swift than it is in Rust.  A
  `MutableCollection` in Swift is required to implement a
  `subscript` that provides accessor to an element for an index,
  but the implementation can satisfy this pretty much any way
  it wants.  If generic code accesses this `subscript`, and it
  happens to be implemented in a way that provides direct access
  to the underlying memory, then the access will happen in-place;
  but if the `subscript` is implemented with a computed getter
  and setter, then the access will happen in a temporary
  variable and the getter and setter will be called as necessary.
  This only works because Swift's access model is highly
  lexical and maintains the ability to run arbitrary code
  at the end of an access.  Imagine what it would take to
  implement a loop that added these temporary mutable
  references to an array — each iteration of the loop would
  have to be able to queue up arbitrary code to run as a clean-up
  when the function was finished with the array.  This would
  hardly be a low-cost abstraction!  A more Rust-like
  `MutableCollection` interface that worked within the
  lifetime rules would have to promise that the `subscript`
  returned a pointer to existing memory; and that wouldn't
  allow a computed implementation at all.

  A similar problem arises even with simple `struct` members.
  The Rust lifetime rules say that, if you have a pointer to
  a `struct`, you can make a pointer to a field of that `struct`
  and it'll have the same lifetime as the original pointer.
  But this assumes not only that the field is actually stored
  in memory, but that it is stored *simply*, such that you can
  form a simple pointer to it and that pointer will obey the
  standard ABI for pointers to that type.  This means that
  Rust cannot use layout optimizations like packing boolean
  fields together in a byte or even just decreasing the
  alignment of a field.  This is not a guarantee that we are
  willing to make in Swift.

For all of these reasons, while we remain theoretically
interested in exploring the possibilities of a more
sophisticated system that would allow broader uses of
ephemerals, we are not proposing to take that on now.  Since
such a system would primarily consist of changes to the type
system, we are not concerned that this will cause ABI-stability
problems in the long term.  Nor are we concerned that we will
suffer from source incompatibilities; we believe that any
enhancements here can be done as extensions and generalizations
of the proposed features.

### Local ephemeral bindings

It is already a somewhat silly limitation that Swift provides
no way to abstract over storage besides passing it as an
`inout` argument.  It's an easy limitation to work around,
since programmers who want a local `inout` binding can simply
introduce a closure and immediately call it, but that's an
awkward way of achieving something that ought to be fairly easy.

Shared values make this limitation even more apparent, because
a local shared value is an interesting alternative to a local `let`:
it avoids a copy at the cost of preventing other accesses to
the original storage.  We would not encourage programmers to
use `shared` instead of `let` throughout their code, especially
because the optimizer will often be able to eliminate the copy
anyway.  However, the optimizer cannot always remove the copy,
and so the `shared` micro-optimization can be useful in select
cases.  Furthermore, eliminating the formal copy may also be
semantically necessary when working with non-copyable types.

We propose to remove this limitation in a straightforward way:

  inout root = &tree.root

  shared elements = self.queue

The initializer is required and must be a storage reference
expression.  The access lasts for the remainder of the scope.

### Function parameters

Function parameters are the most important way in which
programs abstract over values.  Swift currently provides
three kinds of argument-passing:

- Pass-by-value, owned.  This is the rule for ordinary
  arguments.  There is no way to spell this explicitly.

- Pass-by-value, shared.  This is the rule for the `self`
  arguments of `nonmutating` methods.  There is no way to
  spell this explicitly.

- Pass-by-reference.  This is the rule used for `inout`
  arguments and the `self` arguments of `mutating` methods.

Our proposal here is just to allow the non-standard
cases to be spelled explicitly:

- A function argument can be explicitly declared `owned`:

    func append(_ values: owned [Element]) {

  This cannot be combined with `shared` or `inout`.

  This is just an explicit way of writing the default, and
  we do not expect that users will write it often unless
  they're working with non-copyable types.

- A function argument can be explicitly declared `shared`.

    func ==(left: shared String, right: shared String) -> Bool {

  This cannot be combined with `owned` or `inout`.

  If the function argument is a storage reference expression,
  that storage is accessed as a read for the duration of the
  call.  Otherwise, the argument expression is evaluated as
  an r-value and that temporary value is shared for the call.
  It's important to allow temporary values to be shared for
  function arguments because many function parameters will be
  marked as `shared` simply because the functions don't
  actually from owning that parameter, not because it's in
  any way semantically important that they be passed a
  reference to an existing variable.  For example, we expect
  to change things like comparison operators to take their
  parameters `shared`, because it needs to be possible to
  compare non-copyable values without claiming them, but
  this should not prevent programmers from comparing things
  to literal values.

  Like `inout`, this is part of the function type.  Unlike
  `inout`, most function compatibility checks (such as override
  and function conversion checking) should succeed with a
  `shared` / `owned` mismatch.  If a function with an `owned`
  parameter is converted to (or overrides) a function with a
  `shared` parameter, the argument type must actually be

- A method can be explicitly declared `consuming`.

    consuming func moveElements(into collection: inout [Element]) {

  This causes `self` to be passed as an owned value and therefore
  cannot be combined with `mutating` or `nonmutating`.

  `self` is still an immutable binding within the method.

### Function results

As discussed at the start of this section, Swift's lexical
access model does not extend well to allowing ephemerals
to be returned from functions.  Performing an access requires
executing storage-specific code at both the beginning and
the end of the access.  After a function returns, it has no
further ability to execute code.

We could, conceivably, return a callback along with the
ephemeral, with the expectation that the callback will be
executed when the caller is done with the ephemeral.
However, this alone would not be enough, because the callee
might be relying on guarantees from its caller.  For example,
considering a `mutating` method on a `struct` which wants
to returns an `inout` reference to a stored property.  The
correctness of this depends not only on the method being able
to clean up after the access to the property, but on the
continued validity of the variable to which `self` was bound.
What we really want is to maintain the current context in the
callee, along with all the active scopes in the caller, and
simply enter a new nested scope in the caller with the
ephemeral as a sort of argument.  But this is a well-understood
situation in programming languages: it is just a kind of
co-routine.  (Because of the scoping restrictions, it can
also be thought of as sugar for a callback function in
which `return`, `break`, etc. actually work as expected.)

In fact, co-routines are useful for solving a number of
problems relating to ephemerals.  We will explore this
idea in the next few sub-sections.

### `for` loops

In the same sense that there are three interesting ways of
passing an argument, we can identify three interesting styles
of iterating over a sequence.  Each of these can be expressed
with a `for` loop.

#### Consuming iteration

The first iteration style is what we're already familiar with
in Swift: a consuming iteration, where each step is presented
with an owned value.  This is the only way we can iterate over
an arbitrary sequence where the values might be created on demand.
It is also important for working with collections of non-copyable
types because it allows the collection to be destructured and the
loop to take ownership of the elements.  Because it takes ownership
of the values produced by a sequence, and because an arbitrary
sequence cannot be iterated multiple times, this is a
`consuming` operation on `Sequence`.

This can be explicitly requested by declaring the iteration
variable `owned`:

  for owned employee in company.employees {

It is also used implicitly when the requirements for a
non-mutating iteration are not met.  (Among other things,
this is necessary for source compatibility.)

The next two styles make sense only for collections.

#### Non-mutating iteration

A non-mutating iteration simply visits each of the elements
in the collection, leaving it intact and unmodified.  We have
no reason to copy the elements; the iteration variable can
simply be bound to a shared value.  This is a `nonmutating`
operaton on `Collection`.

This can be explicitly requested by declaring the iteration
variable `shared`:

  for shared employee in company.employees {
    if !employee.respected { throw CatastrophicHRFailure() }

It is also used by default when the sequence type is known to
conform to `Collection`, since this is the optimal way of
iterating over a collection.

  for employee in company.employees {
    if !employee.respected { throw CatastrophicHRFailure() }

If the sequence operand is a storage reference expression,
the storage is accessed for the duration of the loop.  Note
that this means that the Law of Exclusivity will implicitly
prevent the collection from being modified during the
iteration.  Programs can explicitly request an iteration
over a copy of the value in that storage by using the `copy`
intrinsic function on the operand.

#### Mutating iteration

A mutating iteration visits each of the elements and
potentially changes it.  The iteration variable is an
`inout` reference to the element.  This is a `mutating`
operation on `MutableCollection`.

This must be explicitly requested by declaring the
iteration variable `inout`:

  for inout employee in company.employees {
    employee.respected = true

The sequence operand must be a storage reference expression.
The storage will be accessed for the duraton of the loop,
which (as above) will prevent any other overlapping accesses
to the collection.  (But this rule does not apply if the
collection type defines the operation as a non-mutating
operation, which e.g. a reference-semantics collection might.)

#### Expressing mutating and non-mutating iteration

Mutating and non-mutating iteration require the collection
to produce ephemeral values at each step.  There are several
ways we could express this in the language, but one reasonable
approach would be to use co-routines.  Since a co-routine does
not abandon its execution context when yielding a value to its
caller, it is reasonable to allow a co-routine to yield
multiple times, which corresponds very well to the basic
code pattern of a loop.  This produces a kind of co-routine
often called a generator, which is used in several major
languages to conveniently implement iteration.  In Swift,
to follow this pattern, we would need to allow the definition
of generator functions, e.g.:

  mutating generator iterateMutable() -> inout Element {
    var i = startIndex, e = endIndex
    while i != e {
      yield &self[i]
      self.formIndex(after: &i)

On the client side, it is clear how this could be used to
implement `for` loops; what is less clear is the right way to
allow generators to be used directly by code.  There are
interesting constraints on how the co-routine can be used
here because, as mentioned above, the entire co-routine
must logically execute within the scope of an access to the
base value.  If, as is common for generators, the generator
function actually returns some sort of generator object,
the compiler must ensure that that object does not escape
that enclosing access.  This is a significant source of

### Generalized accessors

Swift today provides very coarse tools for implementing
properties and subscripts: essentially, just `get` and `set`
methods.  These tools are inadequate for tasks where
performance is critical because they don't allow direct
access to values without copies.  The standard library
has access to a slightly broader set of tools which can
provide such direct access in limited cases, but they're
still quite weak, and we've been reluctant to expose them to
users for a variety of reasons.

Ownership offers us an opportunity to revisit this problem
because `get` doesn't work for collections of non-copyable
types because it returns a value, which must therefore be
owned.  The accessor really needs to be able to yield a
shared value instead of returning an owned one.  Again,
one reasonable approach for allowing this is to use a
special kind of co-routine.  Unlike a generator, this
co-routine would be required to yield exactly once.
And there is no need to design an explicit way for programmers
to invoke one because these would only be used in accessors.

The idea is that, instead of defining `get` and `set`,
a storage declaration could define `read` and `modify`:

  var x: String
  var y: String
  var first: String {
    read {
      if x < y { yield x }
      else { yield y }
    modify {
      if x < y { yield &x }
      else { yield &y }

A storage declaration must define either a `get` or a `read`
(or be a stored property), but not both.

To be mutable, a storage declaration must also define either a
`set` or a `modify`.  It may also choose to define *both*, in
which case `set` will be used for assignments and `modify` will
be used for modifications.  This is useful for optimizing
certain complex computed properties because it allows modifications
to be done in-place without forcing simple assignments to first
read the old value; however, care must be taken to ensure that
the `modify` is consistent in behavior with the `get` and the

### Intrinsic functions

#### `move`

The Swift optimizer will generally try to move values around
instead of copying them, but it can be useful to force its hand.
For this reason, we propose the `move` function.  Conceptually,
`move` is simply a top-level function in the Swift standard

  func move<T>(_ value: T) -> T {
    return value

However, it is blessed with some special semantics.  It cannot
be used indirectly.  The argument expression must be a reference
to some kind of local owning storage: either a `let`, a `var`,
or an `inout` binding.  A call to `move` is evaluated by
semantically moving the current value out of the argument
variable and returning it as the type of the expression,
leaving the variable uninitialized for the purposes of the
definitive-initialization analysis.  What happens with the
variable next depends on the kind of variable:

- A `var` simply transitions back to being uninitialized.
  Uses of it are illegal until it is assigned a new value and
  thus reinitialized.

- An `inout` binding is just like a `var`, except that it is
  illegal for it to go out of scope uninitialized.  That is,
  if a program moves out of an `inout` binding, the program
  must assign a new value to it before it can exit the scope
  in any way (including by throwing an error).  Note that the
  safety of leaving an `inout` temporarily uninitialized
  depends on the Law of Exclusivity.

- A `let` cannot be reinitialized and so cannot be used
  again at all.

This should be a straightforward addition to the existing
definitive-initialization analysis, which proves that local
variables are initialized before use.

#### `copy`

`copy` is a top-level function in the Swift standard library:

  func copy<T>(_ value: T) -> T {
    return value

The argument must be a storage reference expression.  The
semantics are exactly as given in the above code: the argument
value is returned.  This is useful for several reasons:

- It suppresses syntactic special-casing.  For example, as
  discussed above, if a `shared` argument is a storage
  reference, that storage is normally accessed for the duration
  of the call.  The programmer can suppress this and force the
  copy to complete before the call by calling `copy` on the
  storage reference before 

- It is necessary for types that have suppressed implicit
  copies.  See the section below on non-copyable types.

#### `endScope`

`endScope` is a top-level function in the Swift standard library:

  func endScope<T>(_ value: T) -> () {}

The argument must be a reference to a local `let`, `var`, or
standalone (non-parameter, non-loop) `inout` or `shared`
declaration.  If it's a `let` or `var`, the variable is
immediately destroyed.  If it's an `inout` or `shared`,
the access immediately ends.

The definitive-initialization analysis must prove that
the declaration is not used after this call.  It's an error
if the storage is a `var` that's been captured in an escaping

This is useful for ending an access before control reaches the
end of a scope, as well as for micro-optimizing the destruction
of values.

`endScope` provides a guarantee that the given variable has
been destroyed, or the given access has ended, by the time
of the execution of the call.  It does not promise that these
things happen exactly at that point: the implementation is
still free to end them earlier.

### Lenses

Currently, all storage reference expressions in Swift are *concrete*:
every component is statically resolvable to a storage declaration.
There is some recurring interest in the community in allowing programs
to abstract over storage, so that you might say:

  let prop = Widget.weight

and then `prop` would be an abstract reference to the `weight`
property, and its type would be something like `(Widget) -> Double`.

This feature is relevant to the ownership model because an ordinary
function result must be an owned value: not shared, and not mutable.
This means lenses could only be used to abstract *reads*, not
*writes*, and could only be created for copyable properties.  It
also means code using lenses would involve more copies than the
equivalent code using concrete storage references.

Suppose that, instead of being simple functions, lenses were their
own type of value.  An application of a lens would be a storage
reference expression, but an *abstract* one which accessed
statically-unknown members.  This would require the language
implementation to be able to perform that sort of access
dynamically.  However, the problem of accessing an unknown
property is very much like the problem of accessing a known
property whose implementation is unknown; that is, the language
already has to do very similar things in order to implement
generics and resilience.

Overall, such a feature would fit in very neatly with the
ownership model laid out here.

## Non-copyable types

Non-copyable types are useful in a variety of expert situations.
For example, they can be used to efficiently express unique
ownership.  They are also interesting for expressing values
that have some sort of independent identity, such as atomic
types.  They can also be used as a formal mechanism for
encouraging code to work more efficiently with types that
might be expensive to copy, such as large struct types.  The
unifying theme is that we do not want to allow the type to
be copied implicitly.

The complexity of handling non-copyable types in Swift
comes from two main sources:

- The language must provide tools for moving values around
  and sharing them without forcing copies.  We've already
  proposed these tools in this document because they're
  equally important for optimizing the use of copyable types.

- The generics system has to be able to express generics over
  non-copyable types without massively breaking source
  compatibility and forcing non-copyable types on everybody.

Otherwise, the feature itself is pretty small.  The compiler
implicitly emits moves instead of copies, just like we discussed
above for the `move` intrinsic, and then diagnoses anything
that that didn't work for.

### `moveonly` contexts

The generics problem is real, though.  The most obvious way
to model copyability in Swift is to have a `Copyable`
protocol which types can conform to.  An unconstrained type
parameter `T` would then not be assumed to be copyable.
Unfortunately, this would be a disaster for both source
compatibility and usability, because almost all the existing
generic code written in Swift assumes copyability, and
we really don't want programmers to have to worry about
non-copyable types in their first introduction to generic

Furthermore, we don't want types to have to explicitly
declare conformance to `Copyable`.  That should be the

The logical solution is to maintain the default assumption
that all types are copyable, and then allow select contexts
to turn that assumption off.  We will cause these contexts
`moveonly` contexts.  All contexts lexically nested within
a `moveonly` context are also implicitly `moveonly`.

A type can be a `moveonly` context:

  moveonly struct Array<Element> {
    // Element and Array<Element> are not assumed to be copyable here

This suppresses the `Copyable` assumption for the type
declared, its generic arguments (if any), and their
hierarchies of associated types.

An extension can be a `moveonly` context:

  moveonly extension Array {
    // Element and Array<Element> are not assumed to be copyable here

A type can declare conditional copyability using a conditional

  moveonly extension Array: Copyable where Element: Copyable {

Conformance to `Copyable`, conditional or not, is an
inherent property of a type and must be declared in the
same module that defines the type.  (Or possibly even the
same file.)

A non-`moveonly` extension of a type reintroduces the
copyability assumption for the type and its generic
arguments.  This is necessary in order to allow standard
library types to support non-copyable elements without
breaking compatibility with existing extensions.  If the
type doesn't declare any conformance to `Copyable`, giving
it a non-`moveonly` extension is an error.

A function can be a `moveonly` context:

  extension Array {
    moveonly func report<U>(_ u: U)

This suppresses the copyability assumption for any new
generic arguments and their hierarchies of associated types.

A lot of the details of `moveonly` contexts are still up
in the air.  It is likely that we will need substantial
implementation experience before we can really settle on
the right design here.

One possibility we're considering is that `moveonly`
contexts will also suppress the implicit copyability
assumption for values of copyable types.  This would
provide an important optimization tool for code that
needs to be very careful about copies.

### `deinit` for non-copyable types

A value type declared `moveonly` which does not conform
to `Copyable` (even conditionally) may define a `deinit`
method.  `deinit` must be defined in the primary type
definition, not an extension.

`deinit` will be called to destroy the value when it is
no longer required.  This permits non-copyable types to be
used to express the unique ownership of resources.  For
example, here is a simple file-handle type that ensures
that the handle is closed when the value is destroyed:

  moveonly struct File {
    var descriptor: Int32

    init(filename: String) throws {
      descriptor = Darwin.open(filename, O_RDONLY)

      // Abnormally exiting 'init' at any point prevents deinit
      // from being called.
      if descriptor == -1 { throw ... }

    deinit {
      _ = Darwin.close(descriptor)

    consuming func close() throws {
      if Darwin.fsync(descriptor) != 0 { throw ... }

      // This is a consuming function, so it has ownership of self.
      // It doesn't consume self in any other way, so it will
      // destroy it when it exits by calling deinit.  deinit
      // will then handle actually closing the descriptor.

Swift is permitted to destroy a value (and thus call `deinit`)
at any time between its last use and its formal point of
destruction.  The exact definition of "use" for the purposes
of this definition is not yet fully decided.

If the value type is a `struct`, `self` can only be used
in `deinit` in order to refer to the stored properties
of the type.  The stored properties of `self` are treated
like local `let` constants for the purposes of the
definitive-initialization analysis; that is, they are owned
by the `deinit` and can be moved out of.

If the value type is an `enum`, `self` can only be used
in `deinit` as the operand of a `switch`.  Within this
`switch`, any associated values are used to initialize
the corresponding bindings, which take ownership of those
values.  Such a `switch` leaves `self` uninitialized.

### Explicitly-copyable types

Another idea in the area of non-copyable types that we're
exploring is the ability to declare that a type cannot
be implicitly copied.  For example, a very large struct
can formally be copied, but it might be an outsized
impact on performance if it is copied unnecessarily.
Such a type should conform to `Copyable`, and it should
be possible to request a copy with the `copy` function,
but the compiler should diagnose any implicit copies
the same way that it would diagnose copies of a
non-copyable type.

## Implementation priorities

This document has laid out a large amount of work.
We can summarize it as follows:

- Enforcing the Law of Exclusivity:

  - Static enforcement
  - Dynamic enforcement
  - Optimization of dynamic enforcement

- New annotations and declarations:

  - `shared` parameters
  - `consuming` methods
  - Local `shared` and `inout` declarations

- New intrinsics affecting DI:

  - The `move` function and its DI implications
  - The `endScope` function and its DI implications

- Co-routine features:

  - Generalized accessors
  - Generators

- Non-copyable types

  - Further design work
  - DI enforcement
  - `moveonly` contexts

The single most important goal for the upcoming releases is
ABI stability.  The prioritization and analysis of these
features must center around their impact on the ABI.  With
that in mind, here are the primary ABI considerations:

The Law of Exclusivity affects the ABI because it
changes the guarantees made for parameters.  We must adopt
this rule before locking down on the ABI, or else we will
get stuck making conservative assumptions forever.
However, the details of how it is enforced do not affect
the ABI unless we choose to offload some of the work to the
runtime, which is not necessary and which can be changed
in future releases.  (As a technical note, the Law
of Exclusivity is likely to have a major impact on the
optimizer; but this is an ordinary project-scheduling
consideration, not an ABI-affecting one.)

The standard library is likely to enthusiastically adopt
ownership annotations on parameters.  Those annotations will
affect the ABI of those library routines.  Library
developers will need time in order to do this adoption,
but more importantly, they will need some way to validate
that their annotations are useful.  Unfortunately, the best
way to do that validation is to implement non-copyable types,
which are otherwise very low on the priority list.

The generalized accessors work includes changing the standard
set of "most general" accessors for properties and subscripts
from `get`/`set`/`materializeForSet` to (essentially)
`read`/`set`/`modify`.  This affects the basic ABI of
all polymorphic property and subscript accesses, so it
needs to happen.  However, this ABI change can be done
without actually taking the step of allowing co-routine-style
accessors to be defined in Swift.  The important step is
just ensuring that the ABI we've settled on is good
enough for co-routines in the future.

The generators work may involve changing the core collections
protocols.  That will certainly affect the ABI.  In contrast
with the generalized accessors, we will absolutely need
to implement generators in order to carry this out.

Non-copyable types and algorithms only affect the ABI
inasmuch as they are adopted in the standard library.
If the library is going to extensively adopt them for
standard collections, that needs to happen before we
stabilize the ABI.

The new local declarations and intrinsics do not affect the ABI.
(As is often the case, the work with the fewest implications
is also some of the easiest.)

Adopting ownership and non-copyable types in the standard
library is likely to be a lot of work, but will be important
for the usability of non-copyable types.  It would be very
limiting if it was not possible to create an `Array`
of non-copyable types.


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