[swift-evolution] [Concurrency] Passing classes between actors

Jonathan Hull jhull at gbis.com
Wed Aug 23 16:17:24 CDT 2017

There seems to be an open question about how to handle passing mutable state between actors (or possibly just disallowing it). I have a germ of an idea, and I thought I would share in case it triggers a more fully formed idea in someone.

We should have an extremely easy way to wrap a bit of mutable state in a bubble of the actor that owns it… or rather, we should be able to effortlessly create a proxy to mutable state within an actor (either objects, global properties, or closures) for sharing with another actor.  For objects, the proxy would basically convert method calls to asynchronous messages. In my mind, the wrapper would hold a reference to the actor’s internal queue, and would forward the message to the object/closure within that queue, then asynchronously return the value (if any) to the calling actor.

Note that this is different than having properties/methods on the actor itself, since the wrapper/proxy might not be shared publicly, and it can be passed around like an object/closure.  It allows a bunch of patterns that aren’t possible otherwise.  For example, I could ask an actor for a callback closure to call when something has been completed… and the callback that I receive might be unique to me, which allows the actor to field multiple requests asynchronously/independently (Instead of having to track state internally, it can just use the closure to clean up).



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