Observable GC

Dean Tribble tribble at e-dean.com
Fri Oct 20 16:54:02 UTC 2017

I do think that we need weak references for all the reasons given in the
proposal. But indeed non-determinism is a concern. The reference Dominic
pointed at is one of two primary (areas of) considerations. The other is
just how many amazing things you can do if turns are deterministic (more
reliable testing, replay debugging, checkpoint/retry in the event of
component failure, simpler correctness analysis on code, etc.).

Exposing non-determinism only at turn boundaries and controlling access to
the ability to observe GC both help some with the first motivation above
(and a lot with the second). However, not enough.  I'm hoping to make
another run at weakrefs in November with some changes to help concern #1

On Fri, Oct 20, 2017 at 7:54 AM, Filip Pizlo <fpizlo at apple.com> wrote:

> > On Oct 20, 2017, at 7:45 AM, Mike Samuel <mikesamuel at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> >> On Fri, Oct 20, 2017 at 10:33 AM, Filip Pizlo <fpizlo at apple.com> wrote:
> >> For what it’s worth, I have never agreed with this policy. This policy
> seems
> >> to be based on feelings not facts.
> >>
> >> I remember implementing real time GCs for Java, which changed GC timing
> and
> >> behavior a lot, and having zero problem getting that aspect of the GC to
> >> work well with existing code. It seems like we are using non-problems to
> >> make excuses to avoid supporting something useful.
> >>
> >> In fact, WeakMap is more restrictive constraint on GC algo than weak
> refs or
> >> finalization or whatever, since it means that a Siebert-style
> fine-grained
> >> incremental GC with O(1) increments is off the table.
> >
> > I'm not familiar with Siebert GCs so I apologize if this is beside
> > your point.   My recollection of those discussions was that we
> > rejected weak refs in favor of ephemerons because weak references are
> > still prone to uncollectible cycles that involve a weakly referenced
> > object being used as both a key and a value.
> It’s better to have both. Some use cases are not covered by WeakMap, as
> evidenced by the fact that people still ask for weak refs or a gc trigger
> or notification.
> -Filip
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