Re: [PHP-DEV] A little syntactic sugar on array_* function calls?

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May 31, 2021 09:52 (Nikita Popov)
On Fri, May 28, 2021 at 11:01 PM Mike Schinkel <> wrote:

> Hi Nikita, > > Thank you for taking the time to explain in detail. > > One more question below. > > -Mike > > On May 28, 2021, at 10:31 AM, Nikita Popov> wrote: > > On Fri, May 28, 2021 at 3:11 AM Mike Schinkel <> wrote: > >> > On May 26, 2021, at 7:44 PM, Hendra Gunawan> >> wrote: >> > >> > Hello. >> > >> >> >> >> Yes, but Nikita wrote this note about technical limitations at the >> bottom of the repo README: >> >> >> >> Due to technical limitations, it is not possible to create mutable >> APIs for >> >> primitive types. Modifying $self within the methods is not possible (or >> >> rather, will have no effect, as you'd just be changing a copy). >> >> >> > >> > If it is solved, this is a great accomplishment for PHP. But I think >> > scalar object is not going anywhere in the near future. If you are not >> > convinced, please take a look >> > >> >> >> Nikita's comment actually causes me more questions, not fewer. >> >> Nikita says "We need to know that $a[$b][$c is an array in order to >> determine that the call should be performed by-reference. However, we >> already need to convert $a, $a[$b] and $a[$b][$c] into references before we >> know about that." >> >> How then are we able to do the following?: >> >> $a[$b][$c][] = 1; >> > > In this case, we're clearly performing a write operation on the array. If > you want to know the technical details, the compiler will convert this into > a sequence of FETCH_DIM_W ops followed by ASSIGN_DIM. The "W" bit here is > for "write", which will perform all the necessary special handling, such as > copy-on-write separation and auto-vivification. > > How also can we do this: >> >> byref($a[$b][$c]); >> function byref(&$x) { >> $x[]= 2; >> } >> >> See <> >> > > This is a more complex case. In this case the compiler doesn't know in > advance whether the argument is passed by value or by reference. What > happens here is: > > 1. INIT_FCALL determines that we're calling byref(). > 2. CHECK_FUNC_ARG for the first arg determines that this argument is > passed by-reference for this function. > 3. FETCH_DIM_FUNC_ARG on the array will be perform either an FETCH_DIM_R > or to FETCH_DIM_W operation, depending on what CHECK_FUNC_ARG determined. > > I assume that in both my examples $a[$b][$c] would be considered an >> "lvalue"[1] and can be a target of assignment triggered by either the >> assignment operator or calling the function and passing to a by-ref >> parameter. >> >> [1] >> >> >> So is there a reason that -> on an array could not trigger the same? Is >> Nikita saying that the performance of those calls performed by-reference >> would not matter because they are always being assigned, at least in the >> former case, but to do so with array expressions would be problematic? >> (Ignoring there is no code in the wild that currently uses the -> operator, >> or does that matter?) >> > > Note that the byref($a[$b][$c]) case only works because we know which > function is being called at the time the argument is passed. If you have > $a[$b][$c]->test() we need to pass $a[$b][$c] by reference (FETCH_DIM_W) or > by value (FETCH_DIM_R) depending on whether $a[$b][$c]->test() accepts the > argument by-value or by-reference. But we can only know that once we have > already evaluated $a[$b][$c] and found out that it is indeed an array. > > The only way around this is to *always* perform a for-write fetch of > $a[$b][$c], even though we don't know that the end result is going to be an > array. However, doing so would pessimize the performance of code operating > on objects. Consider $some_huge_shared_array[0]->foo(). If we fetch > $some_huge_shared_array for write, we'll be required to perform a full > duplication of the array in preparation for a possible future write. If it > turns out that $some_huge_shared_array[0] is actually an object, or that > $some_huge_shared_array[0] is an array and the performed operation is > by-value, then we have performed this copy unnecessarily. > > I don't believe this is acceptable. > > I ask honestly to understand, and not as a rhetorical question. >> >> Additionally, if the case of updating an array variable is not a problem >> but updating an array expression is a problem then why not just limit the >> -> operator to only work on expressions for immutable methods and require >> variables for mutable methods? I would think should be easy enough to >> throw an error for those specific "methods" that would be mutable, such as >> shift() and unshift() if $a[$b][$c]->shift('foo') were called? >> > > There are externalities associated even with the simple $x->foo() case, > though they are less severe. They primarily involve reduced ability to > analyze code in opcache. > > > In either case, this limitation does not seem reasonable to me from a > language design perspective. If $a->push($b) works, then $a[$k]->push($b) > can reasonably be expected to work as well. > > >> Or maybe just completely limit using the -> operator on array variables. >> Don't work on any array expressions for consistency. There is already >> precedence in PHP for operators that work on variables and not on >> expressions: ++, --, and &. >> >> IF we can get a thumbs up from Nikita that one of these would actually be >> possible then I think the next step should be to write up a list of >> proposed array methods that would be implemented to support the -> operator >> with arrays and put them in an RFC, and to flesh out any edge cases. >> > > The only correct way to resolve this issue is to not support mutable > operations. > > > I don't think I agree that this is the only correct way, but I respect > your position of authority on the matter. > > I don't think there's much need for mutable operations. sort() and > shuffle() would be best implemented by returning a new array instead. > array_push() is redundant with $array[]. array_shift() and array_unshift() > should never be used. > > > Why do you say array_shift() and array_unshift() should never be used? > When I wrote the above questions the use-case I was thinking about most was > $a->unshift($value) as I use array_unshift() more than most of the other > array functions. > > Do you mean that these if applied as "methods" to an array should not be > use immutably — meaning in-place is bad but returning an array value that > has been shifted would be okay — or do you have some other reason you > believe that shifting an array is bad? Note the reason I have used them in > the past is when I need to pass an array to a function written by someone > else that expects the array to be ordered. > > Also, what about very large arrays? I assume — which could be a bad > assumption — that PHP internally can be more efficient about how it handles > array_unshift() instead of just duplicating the large array so as to add an > element at the beginning? >
Arrays only support efficient push/pop operations. Performing an array_shift() or array_unshift() requires going through the whole array to reindex all the keys, even though you're only adding/removing one element. In other words, array_shift() and array_unshift() are O(n) operations, not O(1) as one would intuitively expect. If you use shift/unshift as common operations, you're better off using a different data-structure or construction approach. Regards, Nikita