Feasibility of native RTS support for continuations?

Simon Marlow marlowsd at gmail.com
Mon Feb 10 08:17:15 UTC 2020

On Mon, 10 Feb 2020 at 08:10, Alexis King <lexi.lambda at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Feb 6, 2020, at 02:28, Simon Marlow <marlowsd at gmail.com> wrote:
> The issue here is that raiseAsync is destructive - it *moves* the stack to
> the heap, rather than copying it. So if you want to continue execution
> where you left off, for shift#, you would have to copy it back onto the
> stack again. That's the point I was trying to highlight here.
> Ah, yes, I see what you mean! It happens that for my use case I actually
> do want to unwind the stack when I capture a continuation, so that isn’t a
> problem for me.
> Yes, these are all the things that make raiseAsync tricky! You can either
> copy what raiseAsync does (but be warned, it has taken a lot of iteration
> to get right) or try to use raiseAsync and/or modify it to do what you want.
> My point was more that I’m unsure that shift# *should* handle most of
> those cases. For raiseAsync, it makes sense, since asynchronous interrupts
> can, by their nature, occur at any time, even during pure code. But my
> shift# operation lives in IO, and the intent is to only capture up to a
> reset# in the same state thread.
> My justification for this is that if you could use shift# in pure code, it
> would be ill-defined what you’d even be capturing. Suppose you return a
> thunk containing a call to shift#. When the thunk is evaluated, you capture
> up to the nearest reset#… but who knows what that is now? This opens you up
> to all sorts of general badness.
> Therefore, I don’t think there should ever be an UPDATE_FRAME in the
> captured continuation—if there is, it’s probably a bug. So unless someone
> can think of any valid use cases, I’ll make that more explicit by modifying
> the continuation-capturing code to add some assertions that those frames
> never appear in the captured stack.

Let me just say "unsafePerformIO" :)  You probably want to at least ensure
that things don't crash in that case, even if you can't give a sensible
semantics to what actually happens. We have a similar situation with
unsafeIOToST - we can't tell you exactly what it does in general, except
that it doesn't crash (I hope!).

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