TDF Guide, Issue 4.0

January 1998

next section previous section current document TenDRA home page document index

5.1 - make_proc and apply_proc
5.1.1 - vartag, varparam
5.2 - make_general_proc and apply_general_proc
5.2.1 - tail_call
5.3 - Defining and using locals
5.3.1 - identify, variable
5.3.2 - ACCESS - Locals model - Access "hints"
5.3.3 - current_env, env_offset
5.3.4 - local_alloc, local_free_all, last_local
5.4 - Heap storage

5 Procedures and Locals

All procedures in TDF are essentially global; the only values which are accessible from the body of a procedure are those which are derived from global TAGs (introduced by TAGDEFs or TAGDECs), local TAGs defined within the procedure and parameter TAGs of the procedure

All executable code in TDF will arise from an EXP PROC made by either make_proc or make_general_proc. They differ in their treatment of how space for the actual parameters of a call is managed; in particular, is it the caller or the callee which deallocates the parameter space?

With make_proc, this management is conceptually done by the caller at an apply_proc; i.e. the normal C situation. This suffers from the limitation that tail-calls of procedures are then only possible in restricted circumstances (e.g. the space for the parameters of the tail-call must be capable of being included in caller's parameters) and could only be implemented as an optimisation within a translator. A producer could not predict these circumstances in a machine independent manner, whether or not it knew that a tail-call was valid.

An alternative would be to make the management of parameter space the responsibility of the called procedure. Rather than do this, make_general_proc (and apply_general_proc) splits the parameters into two sets, one whose allocation is the responsibility of the caller and the other whose allocation is dealt with by the callee. This allows an explicit tail_call to be made to a procedure with new callee parameters; the caller parameters for the tail_call will be the same as (or some initial subset of) the caller parameters of the procedure containing the tail_call .

A further refinement of make_general_proc is to allow access to the caller parameter space in a postlude at the call of the procedure using an apply_general_proc. This allows simple implementations of Ada out_parameters, or more generally, multiple results of procedures.

5.1. make_proc and apply_proc

The make_proc constructor has signature:

	result_shape:	SHAPE
	params_intro:	LIST(TAGSHACC)
	var_intro:	OPTION(TAGACC)
		   -> 	EXP PROC
The params_intro and var_intro parameters introduce the formal parameters of the procedure which may be used in body. The procedure result will have SHAPE result_shape and will be usually given by some return construction within body. The basic model is that space will be provided to copy actual parameters (into space supplied by some apply_proc) by value into these formals and the body will treat this space effectively as local variables.

Each straightforward formal parameter is introduced by an auxiliary SORT TAGSHACC using make_tagshacc:

	sha:	SHAPE
	opt_access:	OPTION(LIST(ACCESS))
	tg_intro:	TAG POINTER(alignment(sha))
		   -> TAGSHACC

Within body, the formal will be accessed using tg_intro; it is always considered to be a pointer to the space of SHAPE sha allocated by apply_proc, hence the pointer SHAPE.

For example, if we had a simple procedure with one integer parameter, var_intro would be empty and params_intro might be:

params_intro = make_tagshacc( integer(v), empty, make_tag(13))
Then, TAG 13 from the enclosing UNIT's name-space is identified with the formal parameter with SHAPE POINTER(INTEGER(v)). Any use of obtain_tag(make_tag(13)) in body will deliver a pointer to the integer parameter. I shall return to the meaning of opt_access and the ramifications of the scope and extent of TAGs involved in conjunction with local declarations in
section 5.3.1 on page 30.

Procedures, whether defined by make_proc or make_general_proc, will usually terminate and deliver its result with a return:

	arg1:	EXP x
		   -> EXP BOTTOM
Here x must be identical to the result_shape of the call of the procedure There may be several returns in body; and the SHAPE x in each will be the same. Some languages allow different types to be returned depending on the particular call. The producer must resolve this issue. For example, C allows one to deliver void if the resulting value is not used. In TDF a dummy value must be provided at the return; for example make_value(result_shape)

Note that the body has SHAPE bottom since all possible terminations to a procedure have SHAPE BOTTOM..

Procedures defined by make_proc are called using apply_proc:

	result_shape:	SHAPE
	arg1:	EXP PROC
	arg2:	LIST(EXP)
	varparam:	OPTION(EXP)
	--> EXP result_shape
Here arg1 is the procedure to be called and arg2 gives the actual parameters. There must be at least as many actual parameters as given (with the same SHAPE) in the params_intro of the corresponding make_proc for arg1 *. The values of arg2 will be copied into space managed by caller.

The SHAPE of the result of the call is given by result_shape which must be identical to the result_shape of the make_proc.

5.1.1. vartag, varparam

Use of the var_intro OPTION in make_proc and the corresponding varparam in apply_proc allows one to have a parameter of any SHAPE, possibly differing from call to call where the actual SHAPE can be deduced in some way by the body of the make_proc . One supplies an extra actual parameter, varparam, which usually would be a structure grouping some set of values. The body of the procedure can then access these values using the pointer given by the TAG var_intro, using add_to_ptr with some computed offsets to pick out the individual fields.

This is a slightly different method of giving a variable number of parameters to a procedure, rather than simply giving more actuals than formals. The principle difference is in the alignment of the components of varparam; these will be laid out according to the default padding defined by the component shapes. In most ABIs, this padding is usually different to the way parameters are laid out; for example, character parameters are generally padded out to a full word. Thus a sequence of parameters of given shape has a different layout in store to the same sequence of shapes in a structure. If one wished to pass an arbitrary structure to a procedure, one would use the varparam option rather passing the fields individually as extra actual parameters.

5.2. make_general_proc and apply_general_proc

A make_general_proc has signature:

	result_shape:	SHAPE
	caller_intro:	LIST(TAGSHACC)
	callee_intro:	LIST(TAGSHACC)
		   -> EXP PROC
Here the formal parameters are split into two sets, caller_intro and callee_intro, each given by a list of TAGSHACCs just as in make_proc. The distinction between the two sets is that the make_general_proc is responsible for de_allocating any space required for the callee parameter set; this really only becomes obvious at uses of tail_call within body.

The result_shape and body have the same general properties as in make_proc. In addition prcprops gives other information both about body and the way that that the procedure is called. PROCPROPS are a set drawn from check_stack, inline, no_long_jump_dest, untidy, var_callees and var_callers. The set is composed using add_procprops. The PROCPROPS no_long_jump_dest is a property of body only; it indicates that none of the labels within body will be the target of a long_jump construct. The other properties should also be given consistently at all calls of the procedure; theu are discussed in section 5.2.2 on page 29.

A procedure, p, constructed by make_general_proc is called using apply_general_proc:

	result_shape:	SHAPE
	caller_params:	LIST(OTAGEXP)
	callee_params:	CALLEES
	postlude:	EXP TOP
		   -> EXP result_shape
The actual caller parameters are given by caller_params as a list of OTAGEXPs constructed using make_otagexp:

	tgopt: 	OPTION(TAG x)
	e:	EXP x
		   -> OTAGEXP
Here, e is the value of the parameter and tgopt, if present, is a TAG which will bound to the final value of the parameter (after body is evaluated) in the postlude expression of the apply_general_proc *. Clearly, this allows one to use a caller parameter as an extra result of the procedure; for example, as in Ada out-parameters.

The actual callee_params may be constructed in three different ways. The usual method is to use make_callee_list, giving a list of actual EXP parameters, corresponding to the caller_intro list in the obvious way.The constructor, same_callees allows one to use the callees of the current procedure as the callees of the call; this, of course, assumes that the formals of the current procedure are compatible with the formals required for the call The final method allows one to construct a dynamically sized set of CALLEES; make_dynamic_callees takes a pointer and a size (expressed as an OFFSET) to make the CALLEES; this will be used in conjunction with a var_callees PROCPROPS (see section 5.2.2 on page 29).

Some procedures can be expressed using either make_proc or make_general_proc. For example:

make_proc(S, L, empty, B) = make_general_proc(S, var_callers, L, empty, B)

5.2.1. tail_call

Often the result of a procedure, f, is simply given by the call of another (or the same) procedure, g. In appropriate circumstances, the same stack space can be used for the call of g as the call of f. This can be particularly important where heavily recursive routines are involved; some languages even use tail recursion as the preferred method of looping.

One condition for such a tail call to be applicable is knowing that g does not require any pointers to locals of f; this is often implicit in the language involved. Equally important is that the action on the return from f is indistiguishable from the return from g. For example, if it were the callers responsibility to pop the the space for the parameters on return from a call, then the tail call of g would only work if g had the same parameter space as f.

This is the justification for splitting the parameter set of a general proc; it is (at least conceptually) the caller's responsibility for popping the caller-parameters only - the callee-parameters are dealt with by the procedure itself. Hence we can define tail_call which uses the same caller-parameters, but a different set of callee-parameters:

	callee_params:	CALLEES
		   -> EXP BOTTOM
The procedure p will be called with the same caller parameters as the current procedure and the new callee_params and return to the call site of the current procedure. Semantically, if S is the return SHAPE of the current procedure, and L is its caller-parameters:

tail_call(P, p, C) = return(apply_general_proc(S, P, p, L, C, make_top()))

However an implementation is expected to conserve stack by using the same space for the call of p as the current procedure.


The presence of var_callees (or var_callers) means that the procedure can be called with more actual callee (or caller) parameters than are indicated in callee_intro (or caller_intro ). These extra parameters would be accessed within body using offset calculations with respect to the named parameters. The offsets should be calculated using parameter_alignment to give the packing of the parameter packs.

The presence of untidy means that body may be terminated by an untidy_return. This returns the result of the procedure as in return, but the lifetime of the local space of the procedure is extended (in practice this is performed by not returning the stack to its original value at the call). A procedure containing an untidy_return is a generalisation of a local_alloc(see section 5.3.4 on page 32). For example the procedure could do some complicated local allocation (a triangular array, say) and untidily return a pointer to it so that the space is still valid in the calling procedure. The space will remain valid for the lifetime of the calling procedure unless some local_free is called within it, just as if the space had been generated by a local_alloc in the calling procedure.

The presence of inline is just a hint to the translator that the procedure body is a good candidate for inlining at the call.

The presence of check_stack means that the static stack requirements of the procedure will be checked on entry to see that they do not exceed the limits imposed by set_stack_limit; if they are exceeded a TDF exception with ERROR_CODE stack_overflow (see section 6.3 on page 35) will be raised.

5.3. Defining and using locals

5.3.1. identify, variable

Local definitions within the body of a procedure are given by two EXP constructors which permit one to give names to values over a scope given by the definition. Note that this is somewhat different to declarations in standard languages where the declaration is usually embedded in a larger construct which defines the scope of the name; here the scope is explicit in the definition. The reason for this will become more obvious in the discussion of TDF transformations. The simpler constructor is identify:

	opt_access:	OPTION(ACCESS)
	name_intro:	TAG x
	definition:	EXP x
	body:	 EXP y
		   -> EXP y
The definition is evaluated and its result is identified with the TAG given by name_intro within its scope body. Hence the use of any obtain_tag(name_intro) within body is equivalent to using this result. Anywhere else, obtain_tag(name_intro ) is meaningless, including in other procedures.

The other kind of local definition is variable:

	opt_access:	OPTION(ACCESS)
	name_intro:	TAG x
	init:	EXP x
	body:	 EXP y
		   -> EXP y
Here the init EXP is evaluated and its result serves as an initialisation of space of SHAPE x local to the procedure. The TAG name_intro is then identified with a pointer to that SPACE within body. A use of obtain_tag(name_intro) within body is equivalent to using this pointer and is meaningless outside body or in other procedures. Many variable declarations in programs are uninitialised; in this case, the init argument could be provided by make_value which will produce some value with SHAPE given by its parameter.

5.3.2. ACCESS

The ACCESS SORT given in tag declarations is a way of describing a list of properties to be associated with the tag. They are basically divided into two classes, one which describes global properties of the tag with respect to the model for locals and the other which gives "hints" on how the value will be used. Any of these can be combined using add_access. . Locals model

At the moment there are just three possibilities in the first class of ACCESS constructors. They are standard_access (the default) , visible, out_par and long_jump_access.

The basic model used for the locals and parameters of a procedure is a frame within a stack of nested procedure calls. One could implement a procedure by allocating space according to SHAPEs of all of the parameter and local TAGs so that the corresponding values are at fixed offsets either from the start of the frame or some pointer within it.

Indeed, if the ACCESS opt_access parameter in a TAG definition is produced by visible, then a translator is almost bound to do just that for that TAG. This is because it allows for the possibility of the value to be accessed in some way other than by using obtain_tag which is the standard way of recovering the value bound to the TAG. The principal way that this could happen within TDF is by the combined use of env_offset to give the offset and current_env to give a pointer to the current frame (see section 5.3.3 on page 31).

The out_par ACCESS is only applicable to caller parameters of procedures; it indicates that the value of the TAG concerned will accessed by the postlude part of an apply_general_proc. Hence, the value of the parameter must be accessible after the call; usually this will be on the stack in the callers frame.

The long_jump_access flag is used to indicate that the tag must be available after a long_jump. In practice, if either visible or long_jump_access is set, most translators would allocate the space for the declaration on the main-store stack rather than in an available register. If it is not set, then a translator is free to use its own criteria for whether space which can fit into a register is allocated on the stack or in a register, provided there is no observable difference (other than time or program size) between the two possibilities.

Some of these criteria are rather obvious; for example, if a pointer to local variable is passed outside the procedure in an opaque manner, then it is highly unlikely that one can allocate the variable in a register. Some might be less obvious. If the only uses of a TAG t was in obtain_tag(t)s which are operands of contents or the left-hand operands of assigns , most ABIs would allow the tag to be placed in a register. We do not necessarily have to generate a pointer value if it can be subsumed by the operations available. . Access "hints"

A variable tag with ACCESS constant is a write-once value; once it is initialised the variable will always contain the initialisation. In other words the tag is a pointer to a constant value; translators can use this information to apply various optimisations.

A POINTER tag with ACCESS no_other_read or no_other_write is asserting that there are no "aliassed" accesses to the contents of the pointer. For example, when applied to a parameter of a procedure, it is saying that the original pointer of the tag is distinct from any other tags used (reading/writing) in the lifetime of the tag. These other tags could either be further parameters of the procedure or globals. Clearly, this is useful for describing the limitations imposed by Fortran parameters, for example.

5.3.3. current_env, env_offset

The constructor current_env gives a pointer to the current procedure frame of SHAPE POINTER(fa) where fa is depends on how the procedure was defined and will be some set of the special frame ALIGNMENTs. This set will always include locals_alignment - the alignment of any locals defined within the procedure. If the procedure has any caller- parameters, the set will also include callers_alignment(b) where b indicates whether there can be a variable number of them; similarly for callee-parameters.

Offsets from the current_env of a procedure to a tag declared in the procedure are constructed by env_offset:

	t:	TAG x
		   -> EXP OFFSET(fa,y)
The frame ALIGNMENT fa will be the appropriate one for the TAG t; i.e. if t is a local then the fa will be locals_alignment; if t is a caller parameter, fa will be callers_alignment(b); if t is a callee_parameter, fa will be callees_alignment(b). The alignment y will be the alignment of the initialisation of t.

The offset arithmetic operations allow one to access the values of tags non-locally using values derived from current_env and env_offset. They are effectively defined by the following identities:

If TAG t is derived from a variable definition 
	add_to_ptr(current_env(), env_offset(locals_alignment, A, t)) = obtain_tag(t)
if TAG t is derived from an identify definition:
	contents(S, add_to_ptr(current_env(), env_offset(locals_alignment, A, t))) = obtain_tag(t)
if TAG t is derived from a caller parameter:
	add_to_ptr(current_env(), env_offset(callers_alignment(b), A, t)) = obtain_tag(t)
if TAG t is derived from a callee parameter:
	add_to_ptr(current_env(), env_offset(callees_alignment(b), A, t)) = obtain_tag(t)
These identities are valid throughout the extent of t, including in inner procedure calls. In other words, one can dynamically create a pointer to the value by composing current_env and env_offset.

The importance of this is that env_offset(t) is a constant OFFSET and can be used anywhere within the enclosing UNIT, in other procedures or as part of constant TAGDEF; remember that the TDFINT underlying t is unique within the UNIT. The result of a current_env could be passed to another procedure (as a parameter, say) and this new procedure could then access a local of the original by using its env_offset. This would be the method one would use to access non-local, non-global identifiers in a language which allowed one to define procedures within procedures such as Pascal or Algol. Of course, given the stack-based model, the value given by current_env becomes meaningless once the procedure in which it is invoked is exited.

5.3.4. local_alloc, local_free_all, last_local

The size of stack frame produced by variable and identify definitions is a translate-time constant since the frame is composed of values whose SHAPEs are known. TDF also allows one to produce dynamically sized local objects which are conceptually part of the frame. These are produced by local_alloc:

	arg1:	EXP OFFSET(x, y)
		   -> EXP POINTER(alloca_alignment)
The operand arg1 gives the size of the new object required and the result is a pointer to the space for this object "on top of the stack" as part of the frame. The quotation marks indicate that a translator writer might prefer to maintain a dynamic stack as well as static one. There are some disadvantages in putting everything into one stack which may well out-weigh the trouble of maintaining another stack which is relatively infrequently used. If a frame has a known size, then all addressing of locals can be done using a stack-front register; if it is dynamically sized, then another frame-pointer register must be used - some ABIs make this easy but not all. The majority of procedures contain no local_allocs, so their addressing of locals can always be done relative to a stack-front; only the others have to use another register for a frame pointer.

The alignment of pointer result is alloca_alignment which must include all SHAPE alignments.

There are two constructors for releasing space generated by local_alloc. To release all such space generated in the current procedure one does local_free_all(); this reduces the size of the current frame to its static size.

The other constructor is local_free whch is effectively a "pop" to local_alloc's "push":

	a:	EXP OFFSET(x, y)
	p:	 EXP POINTER(alloca_alignment)
		   -> 	EXP TOP
Here p must evaluate to a pointer generated either by local_alloc or last_local . The effect is to free all of the space locally allocated after p. The usual implementation (with a downward growing stack) of this is that p becomes the "top of stack" pointer

The use of a procedure with an untidy_return is just a generalisation of the idea of local_alloc and the space made available by its use can be freed in the same way as normal local allocations. Of course, given that it could be the result of the procedure it can be structured in an arbitrarily complicated way.

5.4. Heap storage

At the moment, there are no explicit constructors of creating dynamic off-stack storage in TDF. Any off-stack storage requirements must be met by the API in which the system is embedded, using the standard procedural interface. For example, the ANSI C API allows the creation of heap space using standard library procedures like malloc.

Part of the TenDRA Web.
Crown Copyright © 1998.