## 08 May 2011

As I mentioned in the previous post, Klink is a hybrid of C functions and a dispatch loop (_klink_cycle). The dispatch loop finds a "next" C-based combiner and runs it. This can be an applicative or an operative. Under the hood, operatives come in several C types.

About a week ago, I added chains to this set. Chains are really a vector of combiners. Evaling a chain queues all those combiners to run, then continues to them with the value it was passed.

In order to make this work neatly, I also added two other new types of (pseudo)combiners, T_STORE and T_LOAD. Those are only available "under the hood" for optimization, because they know things about the stack that shouldn't be exposed.

T_STORE destructures the current value and stores on the stack a vector of the resulting objects.

T_LOAD builds a tree from recent values according to a template. "Leaves" of the tree index an element from a stored vector. That's a slight simplification: Leaves can also be constants, which are used unchanged.

These stored vectors collectively are somewhat like an environment in that they retain and retrieve values. But unlike the environment, they are distinct across distinct continuations that have yet to assign to them. In other words, if you use this mechanism to capture a combiner's return value, and then before using that value, you re-enter and capture it again, the new return value will not overwrite the old return value, nor vv. Both will be available in their respective continuations.

These stored vectors expire a certain number of frames down the stack, at the bottom of the chain. That keeps them from confusing other chains and keeps the vectors from hanging around uselessly forever.

## Future improvements

At the moment, T_LOAD treats pairs of type (integer . integer) specially, as indexes. I should clean this up by making a dedicated type for indexes.

Together, T_LOAD and T_STORE may supersede T_CURRIED, a type of operative that combines current value with stored data in various possible ways. In order to do that, T_LOAD will have to can access the current value.

Eventually I may switch to a more linear spaghetti stack. Then I will have to change the indexing scheme from (integer . integer) to single integer.

I said earlier the stored vectors were somewhat like an environment but different. Eventually I'd like to use essentially this mechanism to optimize well-behaved environments, so we can index rather than always looking up a symbol. Those in contrast would have to be capturable by continuations. They would also need special care in cases where the environment is captured at some point - either skip those cases or make this data part of environments.

## History

Originally instead of T_STORE and T_LOAD, I used special instructions that were assign values when the chain was run. This proved complex and difficult to work with.