source: doc/proposals/ @ b2052f7

Last change on this file since b2052f7 was d2ac7d5, checked in by Aaron Moss <a3moss@…>, 8 years ago

Add void* handling proposal

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1## Options for safer void* handling #
2C allows implicit conversions between `void*` and other pointer types, as per
3section of the standard.
4Making these implicit conversions explicit in Cforall would provide
5significant type-safety benefits, and is precedented in C++.
6A weaker version of this proposal would be to allow implicit conversions to
7`void*` (as a sort of "top type" for all pointer types), but to make the
8unsafe conversion from `void*` back to a concrete pointer type an explicit
10However, `int *p = malloc( sizeof(int) );` and friends are hugely common
11in C code, and rely on the unsafe implicit conversion from the `void*` return
12type of `malloc` to the `int*` type of the variable - obviously it would be
13too much of a source-compatibility break to disallow this for C code.
14We do already need to wrap C code in an `extern "C"` block, though, so it is
15technically feasible to make the `void*` conversions implicit in C but
16explicit in Cforall.
18As a possible mitigation for calling C code with `void*`-based APIs, pointers-to-dtype are
19calling-convention compatible with `void*`; we could read `void*` in function
20signatures as essentially a fresh dtype type variable, e.g:
22        void* malloc( size_t )
23                => forall(dtype T0) T0* malloc( size_t )
24        void qsort( void*, size_t, size_t, int (*)( const void*, const void* ) )
25                => forall(dtype T0, dtype T1, dtype T2)
26                   void qsort( T0*, size_t, size_t, int (*)( const T1*, const T2* ) )
28In this case, there would be no conversion needed to call `malloc`, just the
29polymorphic type binding.
30This should handle many of the uses of `void*` in C.
32This feature would even allow us to leverage some of Cforall's type safety to write
33better declarations for legacy C API functions, like the following wrapper for
36        extern "C" { // turns off name-mangling so that this calls the C library
37                // call-compatible type-safe qsort signature
38                forall(dtype T)
39                void qsort( T*, size_t, size_t, int (*)( const T*, const T* ) );
41                // forbid type-unsafe C signature from resolving
42                void qsort( void*, size_t, size_t, int (*)( const void*, const void* ) )
43                        = delete;
44        }
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