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hash tables and GC
Date: Fri, 22 Jul 88 10:00:21 PDT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (John Rose)
Date: 22 Jul 88 10:13:34 EDT (Fri)
From: email@example.com (Gail Zacharias)
This isn't much different from do-all-symbols in a lisp which does gctwa.
I believe only the simplest symbols should be GC-ed; if a symbol is
interned and has a nontrivial plist (say), GC-ing it will change
the visible behavior of the program, since if a program re-creates
it (via INTERN or READ), it will be missing its plist.
That's the definition of GCTWA (which stands for GC Truly Worthless
Atoms -- an atom is truly worthless if it is unbound, its function cell
is unbound, its property list is NIL, and the only reference to it is in
a package structure). Such a GC is transparent as long as you don't use
DO-SYMBOLS or its variants and don't look at the second value of INTERN
Similarly, if hash table keys are being used to store information,
as well as merely access it, they shouldn't be GC-ed.
Putting weak links to keys in hash tables would make the EQUAL semantics
I proposed impossible, since an isomorphism test depends strongly
on MAPHASH. (Or, before EQUAL is applied to test for isomorphism,
normalize the two tables by performing a full GC! :@)
Weak pointers are probably more useful than EQUAL isomorphism tests,
but a reliable MAPHASH also seems indispensible. Sounds to me
like weakly-linked keys want to be another option to
He never said that this would be replacing hash tables; in fact, he said
it probably would NOT use the hash table interfaces. A CL-compatible
hash table can't drop elements into the bit-bucket during GC. This
feature would have to be an extension that would be invoked explicitly
when it is wanted. The definition of EQUAL on GC-able hash tables might
have to be different from that for ordinary hash tables.