Gauche Devlog


Plugged an annoying error behavior

I've been aware of an annoying behavior in Gauche. From time to time, I myself got bitten by it and thought "Gee, it's terrible! I should fix it." But there was always more urgent tasks to finish so it was let untouched.

It is that, when an error is caused by a huge object (e.g. long list or deep tree), Gauche tries to report the offending object entirely, producing huge error message:

*** ERROR: vector required, but got (*TOP* (html (head (title "RSSMix: Recent En
tries") (link (|@| (type "text/css") (rel "stylesheet") (href "wiliki-sample.css
")))) (body (h1 "RSSMix: Recent Entries") (div (|@| (align "right")) "[" (a (|@|
 (href "")) "What's T
his?") "][" (a (|@| (href "?c=info")) "Sources") "]") (hr) (table (tr (td "2018/
05/13 16:27:40 UTC") (td (a (|@| (href "")) "Redd
it - LISP ja") ": " (a (|@| (href "
ff/実行時のデータ型の表現手法_2012/")) "実行時のデータ型の表現手法 (2012)"))) (tr (td "20
18/05/13 15:11:00 UTC") (td (a (|@| (href "")) "R
eddit - LISP ja") ": " (a (|@| (href "
j4ez7/evolution_in_lisps_qiita/")) "Evolution In LISPs - Qiita"))) (tr (td "2018

It is especially bad when you're running gosh in *scheme* buffer of Emacs with font-lock mode. Emacs starts to parse this huge S-expression and does nothing else---even not accepting keystrokes.

Yesterday I hit it again and had to kill Emacs. That was the last straw.

It turns out it's so simple that I wonder why I didn't already do it long time ago.

--- a/src/libexc.scm
+++ b/src/libexc.scm
@@ -73,7 +73,7 @@
             (values '() (list exc)))
         (let1 name (condition-type-name exc)
           (if (condition-has-type? exc <message-condition>)
-            (format out "*** ~a: ~a\n" name (~ exc'message))
+            (format out "*** ~a: ~,,,,200:a\n" name (~ exc'message))
             (format out "*** ~a\n" name)))
         (for-each (cut report-mixin-condition <> out) mixins)))))

Now the error message is truncated if it's too long.

*** ERROR: vector required, but got ((*TOP* (html (head (title "RSSMix:
 Recent Entries") (link (|@| (type "text/css") (rel "stylesheet") (href
 "wiliki-sample.css")))) (body (h1 "RSSMix: Recent Entries") (div ...
Stack Trace:
  0  (vector-ref zz 1)
        at "(standard input)":4

Tag: 0.9.6


Easier installation

Distributing a standalone binary executable is the easiest way to deliver Gauche applications to the users. However, what if you need your code to be built on the user's machine? Maybe your code is part of larger system and the client needs to build it on their site.

Once upon a time, delivering a source tarball and asking the user to run ./configure && make && make install wasn't a big deal. It was so much easier than before, when you had to read instructions cafefully and edit Makefiles according to your environment. However, the world has moved on.

So I wrote a small shell script get-gauche.

If you trust me enough, you can ask the user to do this:

    curl -s | /bin/bash

It works as follows:

  • Ask the user where to install Gauche
  • Check if the latest version of Gauche is already installed; if so, do nothing.
  • Check if the user has write permission to the install destination; if not, ask the user if it's ok to use 'sudo' for installation.
  • Download the official tarball of the latest release, compile and run check, then install it.

You can also download the get-gauche script and run it. The script can accept a bunch of command-line options to customize the behavior. See for the details.

One instance I used it was like this: I wanted to use Gauche for testing and various management work in the product. I included in the source tree, and in the Makefile I invoked it to install Gauche under the build tree.

Tags: get-gauche, Installation


Static linking and standalone executables

One of the most frequent-asked feature for Gauche is the ability to compile a Scheme program and produce an executable file. Well, it finally comes in the upcoming 0.9.6 release!

Already in the repo, the build process creates a static library of libgauche by default. There's also a script build-standalone that takes Scheme script source files and spits a stand-alone binary executable---meaning, you can copy the single file to another machine and just run it, without having Gauche runtime there, given that the other machine is the same architecture. (Note: It statically links libgauche but still depends on quasi-standard dynamic libraries such as

The detailed explanation is in the "Building standalone executables" section of the manual. There's a sample source in examples/standalone you can play with.

If you just want to use the feature, that's all you need to know. The following is the discussion behind the scene...

* * *

The ability to produce standalone executable is somewhat considered a distinguishing feature of programming language implementation that separates itself from interpreters or scripting languages.

However, we'd say such a feature has nothing to do with the language being interpreted or scripted. It is purely for the convenience of distributing Gauche programs.

In fact, what build-standalone does is to take Scheme source files and generates a C code snippet with the Scheme code embedded as a C string literal, which is just evaled when the binary is run. There's no performance advantage in the binary form. The static version of libgauche also contains all of library code written in Scheme as C string literals, to be evaled on demand.

In fact, it is a trade-off; a standalone binary is easier to distribute, but you lose flexibility of scripting that the user can easily modify the source and run immediately. Also, the size of stand-alone binaries is not small (16MB on Linux x86_64), because it carries around entire Gauche runtime in it. (It's Lisp's curse---because of eval, we can't statically pick only required code.)

To distribute Gauche applications as Scheme scripts, you need Gauche runtime installed on the target machines. But that's the same for most languages---you need Java runtime to run Java applications, or even need libc to run C applications. If you deploy a bunch of Gauche applications in a limited number of users, it might still be better to install Gauche runtime on each target machine and distribute Scheme files, rather than build a standalone binary for each of applications.

That said, the standalone executable feature will expand the use of Gauche, I hope.

(And I do plan to improve ahead-of-time compilation, employing more optimizations, so standalone binary may have performance advantage in some day.)

Tags: 0.9.6, build-standalone


Generalized setter inlining

(This is a continuation of Procedure inliner improvement.)

Another improvement of procedure inlining in 0.9.6 is about generalized setters.

Generalized setter srfi:17 allows set! to behave as if it takes lvalue of the first argument.

gosh> (define p (list (vector 1)))
gosh> p
gosh> (set! (vector-ref (car p) 0) 2)
gosh> p

It isn't really calculating lvalue of (vector-ref (car p) 0). The trick is a very simple conversion:

(set! (fn arg ...) value)
((setter fn) arg ... value)

If fn is known at the compile time, and (setter fn) is a constant binding, the compiler can inline the value of (setter fn). In the following example, you see the compiler knows (setter vector-ref) is vector-set!, and emit the VM instruction instead of making a procedure call:

gosh> (disasm (^[] (set! (vector-ref (car p) 0) 2)))
CLOSURE #<closure (#f)>
=== main_code (name=#f, code=0x2939600, size=6, const=1 stack=1):
signatureInfo: ((#f))
     0 GREF #<identifier user#p.2629740>; p
     2 CAR-PUSH                 ; (car p)
     3 CONSTI(2) 
     4 VEC-SETI(0)              ; ((setter vector-ref) (car p) 0 2)
     5 RET 

This is exactly the same code as (vector-set! (car p) 0 2).

Actually, srfi-17 is written with this optimization in mind. The ref:getter-with-setter procedure is specified to bind an accessor and a mutator in immutable way, so that the compiler can safely replace (setter fn) form with fn's mutator. It's just that we haven't taken advantage of it until now.

Since we have this optimization now, it is less important to have separate mutator procedure than accessor---you can attach the mutator as the setter of the accessor, and without penalty you can use set! to invoke the mutator.

Tags: 0.9.6, Compiler, srfi-17


Procedure inliner improvement

This is about the compiler internal change in 0.9.6. There's no user-visible changes; it might be interesting if you're curious about compiler internals.

* * *

Some of Gauche's primitive procedures are inlined as VM instructions. For example, Gauche's VM has an instruction to reference an element of a vector with immediate offset. If vector-ref's second argument is a constant, the instruction is used:

gosh> (disasm (^x (vector-ref x 0)))
CLOSURE #<closure (#f x)>
=== main_code (name=#f, code=0x20e3160, size=3, const=0 stack=0):
signatureInfo: ((#f x))
     0 LREF0                    ; x
     1 VEC-REFI(0)              ; (vector-ref x 0)
     2 RET 

This tends to be pretty effective in performance.

You can also define a procedure as inlinable, using define-inline. We've been using it to optimize Gauche runtime.

However, up to 0.9.5, inlining is limited only when the inlinable procedure appears at the procedure position of the function application. In the following example, vector-ref wasn't inlined because it does not appear literally at the procedure position:

gosh> (define-inline (foo ref) (^x (ref x 0)))
gosh> (disasm (^x ((foo vector-ref) x)))
CLOSURE #<closure (#f x)>
=== main_code (name=#f, code=0x2228f50, size=9, const=2 stack=14):
signatureInfo: ((#f x))
     0 LREF0-PUSH               ; x
     1 PRE-CALL(1) 7            ; (foo vector-ref)
     3 GREF-PUSH #<identifier user#vector-ref.2238300>; vector-ref
     5 GREF-CALL(1) #<identifier user#foo.2238340>; (foo vector-ref)
     7 TAIL-CALL(1)             ; ((foo vector-ref) x)
     8 RET 

It's been bothering us, since it is natural to expect that the effect of inlining and β-reduction cascades as follows:

((foo vector-ref) v)
(((^[ref] (^x (ref x 0))) vector-ref) v)
((^x (vector-ref x 0)) v)
(vector-ref v 0)

It was the old inline interface that prevented this.

* * *

Gauche's compiler has 5 passes. Pass 1 expands macros and replaces input S expressions into a graph called IForm. Pass 2-4 works on IForm to optimize, and pass 5 walks final IForm to emit VM instructions.

It is pass 1 where vector-ref was expanded. Inlinable procedures have an attached inliner procedure, which takes an input S expression and compile-time environment Cenv, and returns expanded IForm:

    Inliner :: Sexpr, Cenv -> IForm

When the compiler see a form (fn arg ...) and fn has an inliner, the form (fn arg ...) is passed to it and the returned IForm becomes the result of pass1 of the original form.

If fn is defined with define-inline, the inliner procedure is a closure that keeps IForm of the original procedure. If the compiler sees this definition:

    (define-inline (vref v) (vector-ref v 0))

We process (v (vector-ref v 0)) with pass 1 and obtain its IForm. Let's denote it as #<IForm (^v (vector-ref v 0))> for now. The inliner of vref would be something like this:

    (^[sexpr cenv]
      (#Apply #<IForm (^v (vector-ref v 0))>
              (map (cut pass1 <> cenv) (cdr sexpr))))

Here, the pseudo function "#Apply" builds an IForm that applies the first argument on the list of IForms in the second argument. The subsequent optimization passes would eliminate binding of local variable v if possible.

We could've kept the body of vref in S-expression and just expand it much like legacy macro expansion:

    (^[sexpr cenv]
      (pass1 `(apply (^v (vector-ref v 0)) ,@(cdr sexpr)) cenv))

But such way would run into the hygiene problem. We have to rename vector-ref to avoid potential name conflict. Running through pass1 resolves all the identifier references, hence it addresses hygiene issue as well.

The problem is that the inliner's input is Sexpr and output is IForm. that means we can't apply an inliner on the result of another inliner. It was the reason that the foo case above didn't inlined as expected.

There are also other opportunities of inlining during pass 3. Once we do closure optimization and redundant local variable elimination, we might get a procedure call where the procedure has attached inliner. Since we're working on IForm in pass 3, we couldn't apply inliners in such case.

* * *

The solution is to change inliner protocol. Instead of taking input Sexpr, we can make the inliner takes IForms:

   Inliner :: IForm, [IForm] -> IForm

The first IForm is the body of inlinable procedure, and the second list of IForms are the IForm from argument expressions. The information of Cenv is already folded in IForm.

In pass 1, we process the procedure and the argument with pass1 before calling the inliner. In pass 3 we can just call the inliner.

Now the effect of inlining cascades.

;; Returns a procedure that takes the first element of the given sequence,
;; using REF as the accessor.
(define-inline (foo ref)
  (^v (ref v 0)))

;; Returns accessor accoring to the symbol TYPE.
(define-inline (bar type) 
   [(eq? type 'v) vector-ref]
   [(eq? type 'u8) u8vector-ref]))

;; Using foo and bar to access the first element of V, using an accessor
;; designated by TYPE:
(define-inline (baz type v)
  (let ((ref (bar type)))
    ((foo ref) v)))

If type is constant, the cond expression in bar is computed at the compile time, allowing that we inline everything down to a VM instruction:

gosh> (disasm (^v (baz 'v v)))
CLOSURE #<closure (#f v)>
=== main_code (name=#f, code=0x28783e0, size=3, const=0 stack=0):
signatureInfo: ((#f v))
     0 LREF0                    ; v
     1 VEC-REFI(0)              ; (ref v 0)
     2 RET 
gosh> (disasm (^v (baz 'u8 v)))
CLOSURE #<closure (#f v)>
=== main_code (name=#f, code=0x2878340, size=4, const=0 stack=1):
signatureInfo: ((#f v))
     0 LREF0-PUSH               ; v
     1 CONSTI(0) 
     2 UVEC-REF(1)              ; (ref v 0)
     3 RET 

* * *

This change allows us to write abstraction without worring that it taxes performance.

Tags: 0.9.6, Compiler, Inlining

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