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Paweł Murias > SMOP > Interpreter


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Interpreter - The SMOP interpreter instance and implementation



Introduction ^

In order to support the amount of polymorphism that was part of the initial design ideas of SMOP, we had to separate the interpreter in two layers: the interpreter and the continuation.

The first layer, the interpreter, represents an abstract interpreter, in the sense that it only holds the current continuation. It would be sane to think of it as a thread of execution, but it doesn't implement the stack by itself. The second layer, the continuation, represents a continuation at a given moment, and is itself responsible for stack handling.

As everything in SMOP, the interpreter and the continuation are also SMOP objects, and therefore, you need to use methods to perform any action with them. This is an important bootstrap mechanism, because, unlike perl5, we can have the interpreter itself available as a high-level value, in which methods can be called.


It's important to realize that you are free to use whatever object as an interpreter or continuation, as long as it implements the proper API. SMOP provides a default interpreter and has already three different continuation classes (and you can use the three at the same time).


The interpreter is the object passed as the first argument in the SMOP_DISPATCH, SMOP_RELEASE and SMOP_REFERENCE macros, representing a specific execution thread. In theory, implementing green threads in SMOP is just a matter of creating several interpreters and managing the scheduling between them. Follows the interpreter API.


This method returns the current continuation for that interpreter, it is often used to store that continuation before making a goto.


Sets the given $contination as the current continuation of the interpreter. This method should simply replace the current continuation.


This is the actual runloop, but it's actually just

  while ($continuation.eval) {

So it's completely up to the continuation to decide how to handle it.

Continuation Class

The continuation class deals with the more concrete details of how to actually run code, the hability to run different interpreter implementations at the same thread of execution is named "Polymorphic Eval" and it is the most important feature of SMOP in respect to integrating to perl5. Follows the continuation API:


This method executes one step of the execution. While some interpreters may decide to do more than one step at a time in the eval call, it's important to understand that this is how a "green threads" implementation would be preemptive. This method returns false if there's nothing else to execute in this continuation.


This returns the continuation that is "in the back" of this continuation. It's by calling "back" that SMOP will support the "dynamic lookup" of Perl 6 for variables like $*foo.


This sets a value that was being expected in this continuation, usually, a continuation that was openned to handle a method call is going to call setr with the result of that method call.


This returns the current lexical scope of the continuation, it is the key to make $*foo work.


This should return a code object if, and only if, this continuation has a failure handling code. The code object will be invoked to handle the failure.


This should return a code object if, and only if, this continuation has a control exceptions handling code. The code object will be invoked to handle the control exception.

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