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[Caml-list] OCaml Speed for Block Convolutions
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Date: 2001-06-07 (23:50)
From: Jacques Garrigue <garrigue@k...>
Subject: [Caml-list] let mutable (was OCaml Speed for Block Convolutions)
About the introduction of a let mutable construct,
Tom _ <tom7ca@yahoo.com> wrote

> In any case, whether or not the compiler in the
> current implementation can or cannot do good type
> inference and may or may not be forced to box
> a floating point number, the two constructs mean
> something different to the programmer, and they
> behave differently.  In particular "mutable x"
> can never be passed around as a reference, while
> "x = ref ..." can.  If not anything else, that
> prevents the programmer from inadvertently inhibiting
> a compiler optimization by passing around a reference.

Not exactly, the compiler may still need to build a reference.

    let mutable x = 0 in
    List.iter (fun y -> x <- x+y) l;

Since x has to be modified in a function called by iter, it must be
wrapped into an actual reference cell.

As the compiler already does a good job at unboxing only locally used
references, let mutable would only be some syntactic sugar (with
exactly the same typing as a reference).

> Besides, the syntax is probably quite a bit more 
> natural to imperative programmers anyway.

This is actually the only argument for let mutable.
I would also like such a construct, but I don't know whether its worth
it. The real question is whether let mutable should be allowed at
toplevel, with problems for both answers.


Jacques Garrigue
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