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CML Discussion (was: Smart ways to implement worker threads)
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Date: 2010-07-15 (18:24)
From: David McClain <dbm@r...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] CML Discussion (was: Smart ways to implement worker threads)

> So which 10% of the Event module is poorly implemented? Or is it  
> that the Event module doesn't have a spawn function and relies on  
> the Thread module? Is it fixable (could a CML module be created for  
> OCaml that faithfully implements the run-time described in Reppy's  
> book)?
That 10% was a figure of speech. I cant know how much the missing  
functionality affects the final application. Continuations are just  
another way of stating "spaghetti stacks", since they represent the  
entire "future" of the program -- i.e., the stacked contexts to be  
returned to later.

My point was that OCaml's runtime is modeled against the use of a  
single machine stack - hence the great speed. Spaghetti stacks  
require explicit handling in the heap memory, and so would be slower.  
But the great thing about spaghetti stacks is that a "continuation"  
can be created as a first-class object, and easily reclaimed by the  
GC. [Examples: CML, Smalltalk, Erlang, others?]

Technically, you can do anything in any language... so OCaml is  
technically "fixable" in this regard. But is it practical? feasible?  
I doubt it.

Whether the shortcomings are important to you depends on your  
expectations and performance requirements. I have successfully used  
the notion of Reppy Channels in OCaml, Lisp, Scheme, and elsewhere.  
Only you can decide if the overhead of thread creation, the lack of  
GC thread reclamation, and the act of throwing new threads at every  
decision point, is too much, or inconsequential.

Dr. David McClain
Chief Technical Officer
Refined Audiometrics Laboratory
4391 N. Camino Ferreo
Tucson, AZ  85750

email: dbm@refined-audiometrics.com
phone: 1.520.390.3995
web: http://refined-audiometrics.com