Classes, specializations, and statics

Palo Marton palo.marton at
Mon Feb 15 21:03:52 UTC 2016

Just one note on this issue: You have to deal also with this slightly
different code:

class SomeOtherClassWithoutTParameter {
   private static Collection<T> emptyCollection = …

   private static Collection<T> emptyCollection() { return emptyCollection;

E.g. Collections.emptyList()

It can be handled by creating some fake <T> parametrized inner class, but
may be there is a more elegant solution within your current model.

(see also this message:
in this old thread from Jan 2015:

On Mon, Feb 15, 2016 at 7:11 PM, Brian Goetz <brian.goetz at> wrote:

> M3 leaves us in a position to check off one of the outstanding issues,
> which is that of specialization-specific statics.
> Members of Java classes have historically been divided into static and
> instance members; static members are associated with a class, and instance
> members with an instance of a class.
> When Java 5 extended the type system to support multiple TYPES that are
> represented by the same CLASS (e.g., ArrayList<String> and
> ArrayList<Number>), we had a choice; treat static members as belonging to
> the CLASS, or as belonging to the TYPE.  We chose the former, as that was
> consistent with the translation strategy of erasure, and also maximized
> compatibility with existing code.  (When .NET did reified generics, they
> chose the opposite; Foo<Number>.staticMember and Foo<String>.staticMember
> refer different variables.  That’s also a valid choice.)
> The following program would be sensitive to this distinction:
> class Foo<any T> {
>     static int count;
>     public Foo() { ++count; }
> }
> new Foo<String>();
> new Foo<Number>();
> In Java, this program would increment the common counter twice; under the
> alternative interpretation, the counters Foo<String>.count and
> Foo<Number>.count would each be incremented once.
> Statics in Java work the way they do, and we’re not proposing we change
> that.  However, once we break the assumption that all instantiations of a
> parameterized type are reference instantiations, we run into some issues
> with existing code idioms.  What follows is a proposed generalization of
> static members in the spirit of Model 3.
> The Problem
> -----------
> Java code frequently uses tricks like the following, that exploit the
> assumption of erasure:
> // Cached instance of an empty collection
> private static final Collection<?> c = new EmptyCollection<?>();
> // Factory method that dispenses the cached empty collections, suitably
> casted
> public static<T> Collection<T> emptyCollection() { return (Collection<T>)
> c; }
> The above trick works because of erasure; a Collection<?> has the same
> representation as a Collection<String>, Collection<Integer>, etc, so we can
> freely cast it about with no loss of type safety.  But once we anyfy
> emptyCollection(), we’re now hosed; we can’t cast a Collection<?> to a
> Collection<int>.  This leaves us without a means of coding this common
> idiom, because static members currently are per-class, not
> per-instantiation.
> Obviously, the above code must continue to mean what it means today.  But
> we’d also like a means of extending the above idiom more broadly than
> erased generics.
> Extending Statics to Specializations
> ------------------------------------
> Our current model treats parameterizations of template classes like
> classes; anywhere in the bytecode that one can refer to a Constant_Class,
> one can refer to a Constant_ParameterizedType.  (Whether they are actually
> classes, or more like “species”, is an open question, but whatever they
> are, there’s a way to write their name in the classfile.)
> The existing prototype places static members of Foo<any T> on the erased
> species Class[Foo], and translates access to static member m of Foo<any T>
> as:
>     xxxstatic Class[Foo].m
> However, we are free to assign meaning to xxxstatic as applied to a member
> reference whose owner is a parameterized type.  Suppose we extend the
> current set of member ownerships from { instance, static } to { instance,
> static, specialization }.  We could then access a per-specialization member
> using xxxstatic on a member reference whose owner is a specialization.
> The syntactic story is mostly a bikeshed; we’ll need some token to
> indicate “per-specialization”; we’ll use the silly token
> __SpecializationStatic for now.
> The access story is simple: static members continue to only be able to
> reference other static members (and not class type variables); __SS members
> can access static members and other __SS members, as well as class type
> variables; instance members can reference static, __SS, and instance
> members.
> The translation / classfile story is simple.  Assume we have a spare flag
> bit (we can synthesize one) for ACC_SPECIALIZATION_STATIC (ACC_SS for
> short.)  Static members are marked with ACC_STATIC; __SS members are marked
> with ACC_SS.  Accesses to static members continue to be translated as
> xxxstatic Class[Foo].m; accesses to __SS members are translated as
> xxxstatic ParamType[Foo,params].m.
> The specialization / runtime story is simple.  Static members are treated
> as if they are restricted to the erased species (this is a natural choice,
> since Class[Foo] and ParamType[Foo, erased] describe the same class.)  __SS
> members become static members on each parameterization.  (Both of these are
> one-line changes to the existing specializer prototype.)  TypeVar constants
> used in the signature / bodies of __SS members are specialized as usual,
> and just work.
> Example:
> class Collection<any T> {
>    private __SS Collection<T> emptyCollection = …
>    // ACC_SS field emptyCollection : ParamType[Collection, TypeVar[T]]
>    private __SS Collection<T> emptyCollection() { return emptyCollection; }
>    ACC_SS emptyCollection()ParamType[Collection, TypeVar[T]] {
>        getstatic ParamType[Collection, TypeVar[T]].emptyCollection :
> ParamType[Collection, TypeVar[T]]]
>        areturn
>    }
> When we specialize Collection<int>, the field type, method return type,
> etc, will all collapse to Collection<int> by the existing mechanisms.

More information about the valhalla-spec-observers mailing list