[swift-evolution] [RFC] Definitive Initialization and Incompatibilities with Fixed-size Arrays

Daryle Walker darylew at mac.com
Sun Jul 16 17:18:18 CDT 2017

> On Jul 13, 2017, at 1:41 PM, Daryle Walker via swift-evolution <swift-evolution at swift.org> wrote:
> As I understand it, Definitive Initialization means the Swift compiler will make sure an instance is fully initialized before the first attempt to read it. It does not require mandatory assignment at declaration; an instance can be declared with no initializer and receive an assignment at a later point.
> * Class and structure types are considered OK by DI when an initializer is called.
> * Enumerations can either use an initializer or have an enumeration-case assigned for DI.
> * Compound types (function pointers and tuples) use assignment (possibly at declaration) for DI.
> * Tuples can also have the individual members can be tracked for DI. A member has to be initialized by the time that member or the entire tuple is read (whichever comes first).
> Tuples (and the other types) can statically determine when a sub-object is initialized. When adding a new member, via new text in the source code, a corresponding new line(s) of code has to be added during the initialization sequence. But built-in arrays, no matter how they’re defined, would be different. The whole point of arrays is to allow adjustment the number of sub-objects without per-sub-object alteration to the array type’s declaration code. That means you can’t write out all the member initializations in advance (in general). And that means you generally use a loop and subscripting instead. And since that moves the references to which elements get initialized to run-time, we have a fundamental incompatibility with definitive initialization. (The fixed-size array proposal I recently posted about does have a static indexing mode, but the point I’m making here is that it doesn’t scale from the perspective of the regular array interaction model.)
> Besides banning fixed-size arrays forever and ever (which just hides the problem), we’re limited to:
> * Mandatory assignment at declaration, and the initializing expression has to cover all elements
> * If arrays keep a static indexing mode, apply DI to an array instance using that. This would mean changing the initialization sequence code every time the number of elements is adjusted. And the initialization would have to be from the static indexing mode for DI to recognize it (i.e. always “a.0 = 4”, no “a[0] = 4”) Note that if we gain an equivalent to C++’s constexpr, then static indexing mode could be spelled with the subscript operation.
> * For each array instance not initialized on declaration, define a secret extra Boolean-array object that keeps the initialization state of each element of the first array. Of course, this means tracking each element read and raising a run-time error if not initialized first.
> * Something I haven’t considered.
> If anyone from the original Swift team is around: is this why you didn’t add fixed-size arrays at the start? (Or did you just forget?) I don’t think you missed a way to link FSAs to DI; the two are just incompatible (if you want to keep the way most people use arrays).
> So I’m asking for either some way to make FSAs and DI work together that I missed. Or start a discussion on how undefined behavior on uninitialized-data reads should work on compiler, ABI, and run-time levels.

Right now, my solution is run-time deterministic initialization, but only to fixed-size arrays that are either local objects or stored instance properties. Other instances require the array to be initialized in one shot. To segregate code initializing an array, a special attribute suspends the full initialization requirement in function arguments.

Deterministic Initialization at Run-time

For each local object of a fixed-size array type that is not fully initialized at declaration and has at least one call to its subscript method and/or used as a fragmentary argument, there shall be a secret map object indicating which elements of the array have been initialized. When an element is initialized, either statically or dynamically, the corresponding flag in the initialization map shall be set. When an element is read statically or dynamically, the flag is checked before access, and a run-time error shall be triggered if the element has not been yet initialized. (The check can be elided if the element’s initialization and access were both static.) The same triggering occurs if the array as a whole is read and at least one element is uninitialized, unless the array’s access is being passed as a function argument with the corresponding parameter having the “fragmentary” attribute.

(An array that does not need run-time deterministic initialization checks still has the compile-time ones for it and its sub-objects, just like tuples.)

For each stored instance property of a fixed-size array type declared without a full initialization, then an element initialization map is made for that property at the start of each designated initializer. The properties’ elements’ initializations are confirmed like for local arrays, with the addition of a run-time error gets triggered if the initializer finishes with at least one property element still uninitialized. (The map is elided for a property if all access to its elements is static. Compile-time deterministic initialization still applies.)

Global fixed-size arrays and stored type properties of fixed-size array type must have their initializations done in one shot (i.e. let compile-time deterministic initialization work).

The “fragmentary” type attribute can only be applied to a parameter’s type in a method or function declaration, where the parameter is of a fixed-size array type and also marked with “inout”. It makes the array argument be passed by reference instead of copy, and be secretly accompanied by an in-out (or by-reference) object representing which elements of the array are already initialized. If an element is accessed for reading when the initialization map indicates that it hasn’t been initialized, a run-time error occurs. When an element is written to, the corresponding element in the initialization map is set to TRUE; the updates are sent back out through the secret map argument. When a function with a parameter with this attribute is called, the corresponding array is passed as the explicit argument and the element initialization map is passed as the secret argument. If the array argument does not have a map, like if it was fully initialized statically already, then an equivalent with indicators that all elements are initialized shall be passed.

Daryle Walker
Mac, Internet, and Video Game Junkie
darylew AT mac DOT com 

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