Safe Serialization Under Mutual Suspicion/"Reversing" Evaluation

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Revision as of 02:24, 30 January 2008 by Zarutian (Talk)
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As we've seen, we make serializers, unserializers, and other transformers like expression simplifiers by composing a recognizer with a builder. The interface between the two is the DEBuilder API, explained in Appendix A: The Data-E Manual. Since most of the API is a straightforward reflection of the Data-E grammar productions, if you wish, you may safely skip these details and proceed here by example.

Evaluating Data-E

The semantics of Data-E are defined by the semantics of its evaluation as an E program. We could unserialize using the full E evaluator. However, this is inefficient both as an implementation and as an explanation. Instead, here is the Data-E evaluator as a builder, implementing exactly this subset of E's semantics.


def deSubgraphKit {
    to makeBuilder(scope) :near {

        # The index of the next temp variable

        var nextTemp := 0

        # The frame of temp variables
        def temps := [].diverge()

        # The type returned by "internal" productions and passed as arguments to represent

        # built subtrees.
        def Node := any

        # The type returned by the builder as a whole.
        def Root := any

        # DEBuilderOf is a parameterized type constructor.

        def deSubgraphBuilder implements DEBuilderOf(Node, Root) {
            to getNodeType() :near { Node }
            to getRootType() :near { Root }

            /** Called at the end with the reconstructed root to obtain the value to return. */
            to buildRoot(root :Node)        :Root  { root }

            /** A literal evaluates to its value. */
            to buildLiteral(value)          :Node  { value }

            /** A free variable's name is looked up in the scope. */
            to buildImport(varName :String) :Node  { scope[varName] }

            /** A temporary variable's index is looked up in the temps frame. */
            to buildIbid(tempIndex :int)    :Node  { temps[tempIndex] }

            /** Perform the  described call. */
            to buildCall(rec :Node, verb :String, args :Node[]) :Node {
                # is E's reflective invocation construct. For example,, "add", [3])
                # performs the same call as 2.add(3).
                <u>, verb, args)</u>

             * Called prior to building the right-hand side of a defexpr, to allocate and bind the
             * next two temp variables to a promise and its resolver.

             * @return the index of the temp holding the promise. The temp holding the
             *               resolver is understood to be this plus one.
            to buildPromise() :int {
                def promIndex := nextTemp
                nextTemp += 2
                def [prom,res] := Ref.promise()
                temps[promIndex] := prom
                temps[promIndex+1] := res

             * Called once the right-hand side of a defexpr is built, use the resolver to resolve
             * the value of the promise.
             * @return the value of the right-hand side.

            to buildDefrec(resIndex :int, rValue :Node) :Node {

            # ... buildDefine is an optimization of buildDefrec for known non-cyclic cases.
    # ... other useful tools 


As we see, the underlined above is where all the object construction is done. All the rest is plumbing to hook the up the references among these objects.

The only extra parameter to the above code, in addition to those specified by the DEBuilder API, is the scope parameter to makeBuilder(..). Typically, we will express unserialization-time policy choices using only this hook. With a bit of pre-planning at serialization time, this can be a surprisingly powerful hook, and will often prove adequate.

Unevaluating to Data-E

Because the keys of a unscope table may be arbitrary values, including unresolved promises, it needs to be the special kind of map called a CycleBreaker. For present purposes, we can ignore this issue.

We are now ready for the heart of serialization -- the Data-E subgraph recognizer. It has two parameters for expressing policy -- the uncallerList and the unscopeMap.

Since we are evaling "in reverse", we need the inverse of a scope, which we call an unscope. An unscope maps from arbitrary values to a description of the "variable name" presumed to hold that reference. In the unscope table passed in as unscopeMap, each description is a normal variable name string, as would be used to look the value up in a scope. On each recognize(..), the ".diverge()" makes a private copy of the unscopeMap we put in the variable unscope, which we use from there. This private unscope table gets additional mappings from values to integers representing temporary variable indices.

The uncallerList is used to obtain a portrayal of each object, as we explain below.

def makeUnevaler(uncallerList, unscopeMap) :near {
    def unevaler {
        to recognize(root, builder) :(def Root := builder.getRootType()) {

            def Node := builder.getNodeType()

            def uncallers := uncallerList.snapshot()
            def unscope := unscopeMap.diverge()

            # forward declaration 

            def generate

            /** traverse an uncall portrayal */
            def genCall(rec, verb :String, args :any[]) :Node {
                def recExpr := generate(rec)
                var argExprs := []
                for arg in args {
                    argExprs := argExprs.with(generate(arg))
                builder.buildCall(recExpr, verb, argExprs)

            /** When we're past all the variable manipulation. */

            def genObject(obj) :Node {

Below we see another bit of E syntax. In the pattern-match expression, there is a subexpression on the left of the "=~" operator, like "obj" below, and a sub-pattern on the right. The subexpression is evaluated to a specimen, and the pattern is asked to try matching the specimen. If it succeeds, the pattern-match expression returns true, and any bindings defined by the match are available in the successor scope -- here, the body of the if's then-part. When this pattern is a variable declaration, like "i  :int", the pattern matches if the specimen is compatible with the declared type (i.e., is successfully coerced by the guard). This gives us, in effect, a type-case. This last test below is passed by "bare twine", which for present purposes just means "String". These are all the types that can be represented literally in E and in Data-E.

                if (obj =~ i :int)     { return builder.buildLiteral(i) }
                if (obj =~ f :float64) { return builder.buildLiteral(f) }
                if (obj =~ c :char)    { return builder.buildLiteral(c) }
                if (obj =~ twine :Twine && twine.isBare()) {
                    return builder.buildLiteral(twine)

To the right of the "=~" below is a list pattern. A list pattern is written as a list of subpatterns. It matches a specimen list of the same length if and only if each subpattern matches the corresponding element of the specimen list. An uncaller should respond to .optUncall(obj) with either null or a list of three elements, so the following tests that the resulting specimen wasn't null, and if it wasn't, binds these three elements to variables named rec, verb, and args [ref destructuring-bind]. More on the meaning of this uncall-triple <a href="#uncalling">below</a>.

                for uncaller in uncallers {
                    if (<u>uncaller.optUncall(obj)</u> =~ [rec, verb, args]) {
                        return genCall(rec, verb, args)
                throw(`Can't uneval ${E.toQuote(obj)}`)

            /** Build a use-occurrence of a variable. */

            def genVarUse(varID :(String | int)) :Node {
                if (varID =~ varName :String) {
                } else {

             * The internal recursive routine that will traverse the
             * subgraph and build a Data-E Node while manipulating the
             * above state.

            # "bind" resolves a forward declaration
            bind generate(obj) :Node {

The ":notNull" declaration below accepts any value except null. The call map.fetch(key,func) returns the value associated with key if one is found, or func() otherwise. The expression thunk{} evaluates to a no argument function that return null. Since the values of the unscope are Strings or ints, we can use null to detect whether obj was found.

                if (unscope.fetch(obj, thunk{}) =~ varID :notNull) {
                    return genVarUse(varID)
                def promIndex := builder.buildPromise()
                unscope[obj] := promIndex
                def rValue := genObject(obj)
                builder.buildDefrec(promIndex+1, rValue)


During traversal, for every reference a subgraph recognizer already associates with a variable, whether from the original unscopeMap argument or because it has already been traversed, it builds a reference to that variable. Otherwise, it first builds a new pair of temporary variables for a promise and its resolver, and associates the promise variable as naming the new reference. In that context, it then builds code to generate a reconstruction of that reference. Finally, using defrec it builds code to resolve the previously generated promise to the reconstructed value.

Traversal as Uncalling

The triple returned by an uncaller is very similar in structure and purpose to java.beans.Statement and its role in the serialization performed by the XMLEncoder. To be explained in Related Work.

Should the uncallerList ever need to become long, efficiency would demand a lookup scheme other than linear search, such as the type-based dispatch of PersistenceDelegate, to determine which uncallers are applicable. We assume here only that any optimization is equivalent to linear search in resolving which uncaller to use when several are applicable.

Once again, most of the code above is plumbing, to hook references up correctly. The actual traversal step where objects are "taken apart" -- the inverse of the builder's step -- is the underlined call to each uncaller. Each uncaller returns either null, indicating a failure to portray the object, or a triple corresponding to the three arguments to -- a receiver, a verb (message name), and a list of arguments. Such a triple portrays the object for purpose of reconstruction. It says that a reconstruction of the object would be an performed in the reconstructing context using (a reconstruction of) the receiver, the verb, and (reconstructions of) the arguments. The uncallerList functions as a search path -- each uncaller is tried until one succeeds or the list is exhausted. If none succeed, then the recognition as a whole is terminated with a thrown exception.

The default uncallerList consists of the minimalUncaller shown below and the import__uriGetter:

[minimalUncaller, <import>]

The minimalUncaller simply asks an object to provide its own portrayal. Our earlier generationCounter is an example of an object that overrides __optUncall() to provide its own self portrait. We say that such an object is transparent -- it provides this portrayal to any of its clients. The minimalUncaller can only portray transparent objects.

def minimalUncaller implements Uncaller {
    to optUncall(obj) :nullOk[__Portrayal] {
        if (Ref.isNear(obj)) {
        } else # ... we can ignore the non-Near cases for now

Other uncallers are for portraying non-transparent objects. Some, such as the import__uriGetter, are a special category of uncaller called a Loader. These also have a .get(String) method that acts as the inverse of their .optUncall(..) method. For example, since StringBuffer is a safe class, it can be imported using the import__uriGetter:

? pragma.syntax("0.8")

? def makeStringBuffer := <import:java.lang.makeStringBuffer>
# value: <makeStringBuffer>

As explained earlier, the above code uses the URI-expression. It is just syntactic shorthand for:

? def makeStringBuffer := import__uriGetter.get("java.lang.makeStringBuffer")
# value: <makeStringBuffer>

The resulting object is a maker -- its protocol consists of (the enabled subset of) the public constructors and static methods of the class StringBuffer. That's why we name it makeStringBuffer -- it acts mostly as a function for making StringBuffers.

Going the other way

? <import>.optUncall(makeStringBuffer)
# value: [<import>, "get", ["java.lang.makeStringBuffer"]]

So we see that the import__uriGetter is in effect saying

In order to reconstruct makeStringBuffer, send the ".get" message to me, the import__uriGetter, with the string "java.lang.makeStringBuffer" as argument.

Loaders will normally follow this pattern, varying only the contents of the string argument.

Putting all this together, and remembering that deSrcKit will depict using the URI-expression shorthand when it can, we have

<span class="stdout">? </span><span class="keyword">def</span> <span class="defvar">makeSurgeon</span> := <elib:serial.makeSurgeon>
<span class="stdout">? </span><span class="keyword">def</span> <span class="defvar">surgeon</span> := makeSurgeon.withSrcKit("<span class="litchars">de: </span>")

<span class="stdout">? </span>surgeon.serialize(makeStringBuffer)
<span class="stdout"># value: "de: <import:java.lang.makeStringBuffer>"</span>

This is part wikified from the original Part 2: "Reversing" Evaluation

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