[swift-evolution] [Pitch] Support for pure functions. Part n + 1.

T.J. Usiyan griotspeak at gmail.com
Sun Feb 19 14:42:11 CST 2017

I'm going to update the draft with points addressed here and the twitter
conversation. There have been quite a few implications to consider pointed

This feature is not 'for' the compiler as much as it is for humans writing
code, but I will address that in the update.

On Sun, Feb 19, 2017 at 3:34 PM, David Sweeris <davesweeris at mac.com> wrote:

> On Feb 19, 2017, at 11:47, Michel Fortin via swift-evolution <
> swift-evolution at swift.org> wrote:
> 7. Is it desirable that the optimizer sometime take the pure attribute to
> heart to combine multiple apparently redundant calls into a single one? Or
> is pure not intended to be usable for compiler optimizations? The ability
> to optimize will likely be affected by the answer to these question and the
> loopholes you are willing to allow.
> AFAIK, "compiler optimizations" are main point of having a keyword for
> pure functions. (Well, that and whatever role it might play in supporting
> constant expressions, but that seems like more of a compiler implementation
> detail than an actual "feature" of pure functions.)
> Calling fatalError() is fine IMHO because, at that point, any side-effects
> become a moot point.
> I'm inclined to say that passing in reference values is ok, as long as we
> can prove the function doesn't modify anything. Don't know how we'd do
> that, though, since classes don't need that `mutating` keyword for
> functions that mutate `self`.
> If someone is determined to use pointers to pointers to get global state
> or something to trick the compiler into accepting *semantically* impure
> code as *syntactically* pure, I'm not sure there's a way we can really
> stop them. Not and still have @pure be useful. (Or maybe we can... I'm
> merely thinking of the saying, "every time someone builds a fool-proof
> system, the world makes a bigger fool".)
> I would think that allocating memory is ok, as long as it's either
> deallocated by the time the function exits or it's part of the return
> value, but I don't know a lot about low-level implementation details, so
> maybe there's something I'm missing. If that is a problem, though, I think
> the answer to your "what subset..." question would, more or less, be
> whatever subset doesn't rely on the runtime (the usefulness of that subset
> should expand if/when we extend the syntax around tuples or support
> fixed-length arrays in some other way).
> In any case, yeah, IMHO you're correct that we should nail down the
> semantics before worrying so much about the syntax.
> - Dave Sweeris
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