Gauche Devlog


Cookbook: Running commands remotely

(I frequently write throw-away scripts in Gauche, and it occurred to me that they can be a nice source of cookbook recipe. I'll write them up as I come to useful snippets.)

With run-process or do-process, you can invoke external commands (ref:gauche.process). One of their interesting feature is that you can run the commands on a remote host, if you have ssh access with public-key authentication to it.

Just add :host keyword argument.

(do-process '(ls) :host "")
 ;=> you see listing of your home directory at

Stdio is forwarded to the local process, so as process exit status. The :directory keyword argument works, though it is relative to your home directory of the remote machine. So, you can mix local execution and remote execution pretty much seamlessly.

The following snippet pushes local commits to the repo, pulls them on the remote machine, rebuild and restart the service. The return value of do-process is a boolean indicating command success or failure, so combining with and is like && in shell scripts.

(and (do-process '(git push) :directory *local-dir*)
     (do-process '(git pull) :host *host* :directory *remote-dir*)
     (do-process '(make)     :host *host* :directory *remote-dir*)
     (do-process '(make restart) :host *host* :directory *remote-dir*))

Tags: Cookbook, gauche.process


Functional and linear-updating interfaces

Recent trend of data structure SRFIs is to provide two flavors of updating procedures:

  • Functional updaters never mutate the input structure, and always return a newly allocated structure.
  • Linear updaters are allowed to reuse the storage of input structure to produce the output, given that the caller guarantees the input structure will never be used.

Functional interface has a good nature--it won't create hidden dependencies thus the code is easy to reason about. It also plays nicely with concurrent execution, for you don't need to worry that your operations step on other threads' toes.

Linear updating interface gives the user to express opportunities of optimization. The implementation can take advantage of it to reduce allocations.

So, it appears to be a nice combination---except that, I think, the way they are currently specified is actually pulling each one's leg and reducing their merits.

Performance-sensitive users often frown on functional data structures, for they seem to copy everything every time. "It won't be that bad," functionally-minded users replies, "for it is often the case that the input structure and the updated structure can share most of their internals; the updated structure just allocates enough to store the updated parts. In the extreme case, the updater can just return the input as is, when it finds out the structure isn't altered at all (e.g. adjoining an item to a set that already has the item). The beauty of functional programming is that nobody cares whether it is shared or not---only the content matters."

It is true if everything is written functionally. However, to use the linear-updating interface, the caller needs to know that the structure to pass in isn't shared. If the functional interface may return a (partially) shared structure, it's hard to guarantee the "no-share" condition. Thus, SRFI states the functional interface always copies the input, even if there's no change at all. It can't take advantage of partial sharing as well, if the linear-updating version mutates internal structure.

This takes out the opportunity of optimization in the functional interface. The implementation needs to choose either (1) makes a slow functional version, in order to provide an efficient linear-updating version, or (2) makes a linear-updating version not mutate the input at all, and put functional optimizations.

I think we can do better. One idea is this:

  • The data structure has a mutability flag internally.
  • The functional interface always returns immutable data. It may return the input as is, or return a structure that partially shares the input, if the input structure is flagged immutable. If the input is flagged mutable, it always returns a fleshly copied immutable structure.
  • The linear-updating interface may mutate the input structure if it is flagged mutable, and copies if the input structure is flagged immutable.

If the SRFI does not provide an explicitly-mutating interface, it is actually almost indistinguishable from the existing SRFI spec, except when you compare input and output structures with eq?.

Given that explicitly-mutating interfaces (such as vector-set!) aren't popular in the SRFIs, I think it's good to allow the implementation to take the latter choice.

Discussion on srfi-discuss

Tags: srfi, Immutability, DataStructures


Two concurrency utilities

Since I haven't written this blog for a while, it's a good time to catch up recent changes in Gauche HEAD.

Lately, we added a couple of utility modules that help to write concurrent programs.

control.future (draft:control.future) - A typical future, that is, evaluate the given expression in a separate thread concurrently. The result can be retrieved with future-get.

(use control.future)
(use rfc.http)

(let1 f (future (http-get "" "/"))
  ... some computation ...
  (receive (code headers body) (future-get f)

Like most of other synchronization operations in Gauche, future-get can take timeout parameter.

control.cseq (draft:control.cseq) - It's a lazy sequence but the data generator runs in a separate thread. It can abstract producer-consumer type concurrency.

The same concurrency can be achieved with <mtqueue> (ref:data.queue), and in fact control.cseq uses mtqeuee internally, but cseq is characteristic that you can very easily change lazy sequence code into concurrent code.

(generator->lseq gen) returns an lseq, which looks like an ordinary list, but when you walk down its cdr, the generator gen is called to generate more items.

(generator->cseq gen) also returns an lseq. But in this case, gen runs concurrently in a separate thread. In many cases, you can simply replace lseq to cseq to get the benefit of concurrency.

The module also provides coroutine->cseq, which uses coroutine to generate the items, run in a separate thread.

Tags: 0.9.11, Concurrency


mtqueue and channel

Thread-safe queues, <mtqueue> (ref:data.queue), can naturally be used as a ``channel'', a communication primitive between producer thread(s) and consumer thread(s). In fact, I totally assumed the two were equivalent, and didn't bother creating a ``channel'' datatype specifically.

But I realized there was one difference--a channel can be closed.

Suppose I have an in-process ``server''---a thread looping over requests sent via an mtqueue. Other part of the program inserts its requests with enqueue/wait!. The server thread reads it and process it. All the synchronization is done in the queue, and that's the beauty.

Now, sometimes, you may want to shut down such server. Once it is shut down, we don't want to allow callers to put a new request into the queue, for it will sit in the queue unprocessed forever. How to implement it?

We may have a separate flag in our <server> object and ask the caller to check it before queuing a request. But such check must be done atomically with queue insertion, for other thread may set the flag after you checked it but before calling enqueue. Hence you need a separate lock for the flag and the queue, even the queue itself is thread-safe. It's kind of waste.

With a channel, attempt to put a request on a closed channel would be rejected, and that check is done atomically inside a channel.

For Gauche, I decided to enhance <mtqueue> to have ``close'' state. It's a bit of divergence from a queue in the original sense, but it's simpler than making a separate channel class on top of <mtqueue>. The lock operation and flag check is intertwined so deeply that it's difficult to separate them cleanly.

An mtqueue can only be closed via the synchronized queue operations such as enqueue/wait!. Usually, if you want to shut down the service, you need a special message, so it's reasonable that you close the queue simultaneously when you send such termination message.

(If you think a channel as a pipe, then such termination message is not necessary; the input end can be simply closed, and the output end reads something like #<eof>. Queue, on the other hand, is expected to read something that's explicitly put.)

The feature is available in the next release, 0.9.11.

Tags: data.queue, mtqeueue, Concurrency


A curious case of rational to flonum conversion

Tanaka Akira filed a curious bug report in Ruby:

He computed 1 + (k/100)ε in rational arithmetic, then converted it to a floating-point number, for k=0 to 100, where ε is FLT_EPSILON. If k=0 it's 1, and k=100 it's nextfloat(1), so somewhere inbetween the value switches from 1 to nextfloat(1). However, what he saw was that the value flips more than once:

[31, 1.0, (450359962737049631/450359962737049600)]
[32, 1.0, (14073748835532801/14073748835532800)]
[33, 1.0000000000000002, (450359962737049633/450359962737049600)]
[34, 1.0000000000000002, (225179981368524817/225179981368524800)]
[35, 1.0, (90071992547409927/90071992547409920)]
[36, 1.0000000000000002, (112589990684262409/112589990684262400)]
[37, 1.0000000000000002, (450359962737049637/450359962737049600)]
[38, 1.0000000000000002, (225179981368524819/225179981368524800)]
[39, 1.0000000000000002, (450359962737049639/450359962737049600)]
[40, 1.0, (11258999068426241/11258999068426240)]
[41, 1.0000000000000002, (450359962737049641/450359962737049600)]
[42, 1.0000000000000002, (225179981368524821/225179981368524800)]
[43, 1.0000000000000002, (450359962737049643/450359962737049600)]

Intrigued, I ran the same computation in Gauche. To my surprise, I got exactly the same result (0.9.9):

gosh> (dotimes (k 100) 
        (let1 d (+ 1 (* k 1/100 (exact (flonum-epsilon))))
          (print `(,k ,(inexact d) ,d))))
(0 1.0 1)
(1 1.0 450359962737049601/450359962737049600)
(2 1.0 225179981368524801/225179981368524800)
(31 1.0 450359962737049631/450359962737049600)
(32 1.0 14073748835532801/14073748835532800)
(33 1.0000000000000002 450359962737049633/450359962737049600)
(34 1.0000000000000002 225179981368524817/225179981368524800)
(35 1.0 90071992547409927/90071992547409920)
(36 1.0000000000000002 112589990684262409/112589990684262400)
(37 1.0000000000000002 450359962737049637/450359962737049600)
(38 1.0000000000000002 225179981368524819/225179981368524800)
(39 1.0000000000000002 450359962737049639/450359962737049600)
(40 1.0 11258999068426241/11258999068426240)
(41 1.0000000000000002 450359962737049641/450359962737049600)
(42 1.0000000000000002 225179981368524821/225179981368524800)
(43 1.0000000000000002 450359962737049643/450359962737049600)
(44 1.0000000000000002 112589990684262411/112589990684262400)
(45 1.0000000000000002 90071992547409929/90071992547409920)
(46 1.0000000000000002 225179981368524823/225179981368524800)
(47 1.0000000000000002 450359962737049647/450359962737049600)
(48 1.0000000000000002 28147497671065603/28147497671065600)
(49 1.0000000000000002 450359962737049649/450359962737049600)
(50 1.0 9007199254740993/9007199254740992)
(51 1.0000000000000002 450359962737049651/450359962737049600)
(52 1.0000000000000002 112589990684262413/112589990684262400)

To my knowledge, Gauche and Ruby don't share code regarding this feature. Whatever the issue is, it should be in the logic.

What Gauche did was basically converting the numerator and the denominator of the rational number to doubles, then did a floating-point division:

double dnumer = Scm_GetDouble(SCM_RATNUM_NUMER(obj));
double ddenom = Scm_GetDouble(SCM_RATNUM_DENOM(obj));

return dnumer/ddenom;

There's a case that dnumer and/or ddenom overflows that requires special handling, and also we have to make sure the floating-point division is done in IEEE double precision (as opposed to extended precision). I guess Ruby does the same, and that is the cause of the weird behavior. What's going on?

Let's look at the k=33. 1 + 33/100*ε is 450359962737049633/450359962737049600. This is closer to 1 than nextfloat(1), so it should be rounded down.

The numerator, 450359962737049633, consists of the following bits:

gosh> (format "~,,,5:b" 450359962737049633)
;;                                                             ^53bit 

Note that it requires more than 53bits to represent it accurately. If we convert it to double, the last 6 bits are rounded---since it is greater than the midpoint, it is rounded up:

1100,10000,00000,00000,00000,00000,00000,00000,00000,00000,0001 * 2^6

Effectively, we now have 1 + 64/100*ε. So we get 1.0000000000000002 rather than 1.0. We can say this is another case of double-rounding.

When k = 32, the last 6 bits falls on the exact midpoint, so it is rounded down by the even-rounding rule.

k=35, 40 and 50 are anomalies---the rational numbers are simplified, so their numerator happened to fit within 53 bits and we didn't lose the precision.

The fix I've implemented is as follows:

  • Scale numerator by factor S so that numerator * S > 2^54 * denominator.
  • Compute integer division. The quotient has at least 54 bits.
  • Look at the 54-th bits.
    • If it is 0, we can round down the quotient.
    • If it is 1 and there's any '1' in the following bits, or the remainder of the division is not zero, we can round up the quotient.
    • Otherwise, quotient is on the midpoint. We see the 53-th bit and round to even.
  • Convert the quotient into double, then scale back.

If the result falls on the denormalized range, we have to adjust the significant digits, otherwise we'll get another double-rounding.

This solution involves lots of bignum allocations, so we want to optimize eventually.

Tags: Flonums, 0.9.10

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