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Re: [Caml-list] Error Reporting
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Date: -- (:)
From: John Prevost <jprevost@p...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] Error Reporting
>>>>> "dm" == David McClain <barabh@qwest.net> writes:

    dm> I must confess that I don't understand this statement...

    dm> Let's take a trivial example of a sequence of 3 "primitive"
    dm> operations -- a primitive operation being one which cannot
    dm> make use of a continuation argument.

    dm> Normal OCaml syntax for such a function would be:

    dm> let seqFn () = aFn (); bFn (); cFn ()

    dm> Now let's write what the compiler would translate this
    dm> into....

    dm> let cPart () kont = cFn (); kont ()

    dm> let bPart () kont = bFn (); cPart () kont

    dm> let aPart () kont = aFn (); bPart () kont

This is a very specific for of tail calls where no continuation has
any argument--and yet, your assertion that you don't know anything
about history is incorrect.

The continuation passed to each function is very similar to a stack
frame.  Let's look at a more interesting example:

let plus a b = a + b
let mult a b = a * b
let a = plus (mult 3 5) (plus 8 (mult 7 10))

a CPS conversion of this would be:

let plus a b k = k (a + b)
let mult a b k = k (a * b)
let a = mult 3 5
       (fun x -> mult 7 10
         (fun y -> plus 8 y
          (fun z -> plus x z
           (fun w -> w))))

In this case, we see that the continuations are a bit more
interesting.  For a start, they take non-unit arguments.  Then we can
notice the dependencies between them.  Each application takes the code
to be run when the call "returns".  Now imagine this version of your
original code.  First, let's make aFn and friends be written in CPS
instead of somehow being outside it (the other bothersome thing about
your example):

val aFn : (unit -> 'a) -> unit -> 'a
val bFn : (unit -> 'a) -> unit -> 'a
val bFn : (unit -> 'a) -> unit -> 'a

(* example:
    let aFn k () = Printf.printf "a\n"; k () *)

let seqFn k = aFn (bFn (cFn k))

let program = seqFn id

program () results in:
a
b
c


This is a more realistic example of continuations in action.  Now, we
can extend this in a useful way!


let cont d f = (d,f)
let app (_,f) = f
let desc (d,_) = d

let aFn k () = Printf.printf "a (will return to %s)\n" (desc k); app k ()
let bFn k () = Printf.printf "b (will return to %s)\n" (desc k); app k ()
let cFn k () = Printf.printf "c (will return to %s)\n" (desc k); app k ()


let seqFn k =
  let seqFn_cont lineno f =
    cont ("seqFn (line " ^ string_of_int lineno ^ ")") f
  in
    aFn (seqFn_cont 2 (bFn (seqFn_cont 3 (cFn k))))

let program = seqFn (cont "main program" id)

program () results in:

a (will return to seqFn (line 2))
b (will return to seqFn (line 3))
c (will return to main program)


Again--these continuations are *just like stack frames*.  The only
difference is that in CPS they are treated as explicit manipulable
values.  In fact, SML/NJ uses continuations internally allocated on
the heap, rather than using a normal stack.

The right way to think about things is probably that a stack is, in
fact, a very simple continuation system which does not allow
continuations to be used in any way other than LIFO.


John.
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