[swift-users] [swift-evolution] How does "Sequence.joined" work?

Geordie Jay geojay at gmail.com
Tue Aug 8 17:45:21 CDT 2017

Daryle Walker via swift-evolution <swift-evolution at swift.org> schrieb am
Di. 8. Aug. 2017 um 21:25:

> On Aug 8, 2017, at 12:35 AM, Félix Cloutier <felixcloutier at icloud.com>
> wrote:
> All this means is that `joined()` does not create an array that contains
> the new result. It's only as magic as the COW semantics on arrays.
> So you’re saying the COW semantics for Array and other standard library
> types have secret references/pointers that work even for “let”-mode
> objects, and the Sequence variants the various forms of “joined” need use a
> Sequence/Collection of those secret references?

I know nothing about this specific type under the hood and your question
stumped me when I first saw it as well, so take this with a grain of salt:

I think it's basically just storing the arrays internally (as let) and when
you iterate through the collection it just goes through the subsequences
one by one, when the last index of the first is reached it begins with the
next subsequence.

As for how it avoids creating new storage, simple. As someone else
mentioned, this is no more magic than Copy On Write for normal arrays.

let a = [1,2,3]
let b = a // this doesn't produce a copy of the underlying buffer.. I.e.
value semantics but only one buffer needed

^^^ This is the take-home message. And your intuition about COW is correct:
its internal storage is a reference type containing a buffer pointer. When
(and only when) a mutation occurs, the buffer is copied and the new storage
becomes the backing for the resulting struct. Any existing copies remain
unchanged (and truly immutable) because they keep their original storage.


So with that understanding of COW, it becomes easy to imagine all sorts of
containers that don't require additional storage for their contents:

struct JoinedSequenceOfThreeArrays<T> {
  let array1: [T]
  let array2: [T]
  let array3: [T]

// still only one array buffer storage is required for all of this:
let c = JoinedSequenceOfThreeArrays(array1: a, array2: a, array3: b)

Does that make sense?


> Le 7 août 2017 à 21:12, Daryle Walker via swift-evolution <
> swift-evolution at swift.org> a écrit :
> I was looking at random items at SwiftDoc.org <http://swiftdoc.org/>, and
> noticed the “FlattenBidirectionalCollection” structure. It helps implement
> some versions of “joined” from Sequence (probably when the Sequence is also
> a BidirectionalCollection). The directions for the type state that “joined”
> does not create new storage. Then wouldn’t it have to refer to the source
> objects by reference? How; especially how does it work without requiring a
> “&” with “inout” or how it works with “let”-mode objects? Or am I
> misunderstanding how it works behind the covers?
> (If there is a secret sauce to have one object refer to another without
> “&”/“inout”/“UnsafeWhateverPointer”, I like to know. It may help with
> implementing an idea. The idea involves extending the language, so
> “compiler magic” that the user can’t access is OK; I’d just claim to use
> the same sauce in my proposal.)
>> Daryle Walker
> Mac, Internet, and Video Game Junkie
> darylew AT mac DOT com
> _______________________________________________
> swift-evolution mailing list
> swift-evolution at swift.org
> https://lists.swift.org/mailman/listinfo/swift-evolution
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