Comments on JDK-8198408 please ?

Ali Ebrahimi ali.ebrahimi1781 at
Wed Feb 28 07:30:12 UTC 2018

Since as far as I know java value types would be immutable, so assignment
to value class's fields doesn't make sense and should be dis-allowed.
I have a suggestion similar to Stephan's.
Some thing as following:

a = a.with {x:11, y: ...};

I suggest we have withfields instead of withfield.  This way whole
expression " a.with {x:11, y: ...}; " can be translated into one jvm
instruction in bytecode.
This new jvm opcode can get one value instance and return new value
instance with one or multiple fields updated regard to original value

And syntax for value instance creation.
ValType v = ValType {x:11, y: ...}    // JavaFX Object literal Syntax

And one question: what is semantics of value type variable assignments.
ValType v=...;
ValType v2 = v;
Is v2 new value instance?

On Tue, Feb 27, 2018 at 1:16 AM, John Rose <john.r.rose at> wrote:

> On Feb 26, 2018, at 9:04 AM, Srikanth <srikanth.adayapalam at>
> wrote:
> >
> >
> > Frederic and I have been discussing the code sequence that javac should
> produce for certain
> > more involved attempts to update value fields using withfield.
> >
> > Basically for the test case in JDK-8198408, what should be the bytecode
> generated for
> >
> > d.c.b.a.x = 11;
> >
> > where x is an int field and a, b, c and d are value classes. I imagine
> > this would call for a.x to be updated via withfield to obtain a', b.a to
> be updated with a' using withfield to obtain b',
> > c.b to be updated with b' using withfield to obtain c' and d.c to be
> updated with c' using withfield
> > to obtain d' and for d' to be finally stored back into d - Is that
> correct ??
> This is taking us away from the close coupling between value-based classes
> and value types.  I'm pretty sure it's a bad road with no good
> destinations.
> Notice that none of these expressions has a meaning which can be predicted
> by referring to value-based object classes:
>  a.x = 11;
>  a.p.x = 11;
>>  a.p.q.r.s.x = 11;
> Not even the first has a meaning predicted from standard Java, since x
> is a final field in a value-based class.  (The other p/q/r/… fields are
> final,
> but the whole process stops immediately with x.)
> Years ago, at the inception of the value types project, we considered a
> number of alternative ways to give a meaning to all of these expressions.
> They are all overly complex for the limited amount of expressiveness
> we think they will purchase.
> - disallow (the decision we made)
> - turn single level assignment into withfield, disallow others
> - allow multiple-level assignment to resolve to subfield descriptors
> - generate nested dup;getfield;…;withfield sequences
> - make field assignment a distinct API point
> The basic problem is that we have to bend the meaning of a.x = 11 with
> a value type, to include a change to the value of a.  No other Java
> construct
> does this.  This is why it's a puzzle to wedge value field assignment into
> the language.
> Other languages have constructs like this.  Nested (flat) C structs behave
> like this—and almost nobody uses this language feature.  Some languages
> have elaborate property-definition mechanisms which can endow such
> reference chains with assignable behavior (JS, Perl, VB, looking at you).
> But we don't want to go there; at the very least we don't want to get on
> a slippery slope that slides us into programmable properties.
> > This calls for non-trivial changes to be made to javac - I don't think
> it is a blocker issue, a solution can be
> > found quickly, but it is a radical departure from how code generation in
> Javac works today.
> More fundamentally, even the single level assignment a.x = 11 is a
> radical departure.  So it's no surprise that javac is unready for such
> things.
> > (at the time of withfield emission for updating a.x with 11, the
> expression stack has been mostly drained and
> > has no trace of the complex sequence of operations that led up to that
> point. When a' is computed
> > by updating a.x with 11 using withfield, we reach a dead end - there is
> nothing in the expression stack to write
> > back to. When the updated field is an instance of field of a value
> instance that is a local variable, the problem
> > is lot simpler - all it calls for an astore which does not expect much
> from the expression stack as far as the destination
> > is concerned, the astore opcode fully specifies the destination)
> Even if we support single-level field assignment (as twisted sugar for
> withfield) we should *not* support multiple-level field assignment.
> In fact, I'm doubting (again, after several years) the wisdom of allowing
> even the single-level x.a = 11.  It seems to lead the user model into a
> swamp.  And also contains a paradox, that a subexpression on the LHS
> of an assignment gets modified, in addition to the whole LHS.
> Dan Smith once very tentatively suggested defining a new compound
> assignment operation to capture the subexpression changing behavior,
> something vaguely like x += __Edit(a = 11).  There are lots of variations
> on
> such syntaxes; they are easy to come up with.  And of course the
> compound assignment always goes with a plain non-assignment
> operator, which would be a very direct representation for withfield,
> something like y=__Edit(x, a = 11) or y=__Edit(x.a, 11).
> I think we want some sort of "reconstructor" mechanism like _Edit
> for scoped-in-place modification of value types.  It will take a while
> to work out the details of such a thing.
> Meanwhile, to provide withfield encodings, the single-level a.x=11
> is acceptable, given the understanding that *it will probably go away*
> when we figure out a story that allows a more natural notation.
> (By natural I mean not natural to existing Java but natural to the
> semantic structure of value types.  Something like WITH in VB
> or Modula-3, or something like Java constructor bodies,
> sprinkled into other code as sub-blocks.)
> We could also represent withfield directly with a temporary
> extra operator:  __WithField(a.x, 11).  I think I'd prefer that,
> because it's more obviously a temporary expedient to be
> replaced later.  Would that be difficult to prototype in javac?
> > Could the experts weigh in on the required sequence please - before we
> go down too far deep in implementing anyone presumed sequence ?
> Thanks for asking.  See above; I think this represents significant
> parts of Brian's thinking as well as my own.
> — John


Best Regards,
Ali Ebrahimi

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