Part 3 of meeting notes

Mark S. Miller erights at
Tue Jun 2 16:20:58 PDT 2009

On Fri, May 29, 2009 at 7:13 PM, Brendan Eich <brendan at> wrote:

> On May 29, 2009, at 4:46 PM, Waldemar Horwat wrote:
>  We'd want a Name n to be garbage-collected if the only use of n is in
>> hidden places such as x[n].  That would also collect y if it's not reachable
>> from anywhere else.
> Really? What about Name instance n makes its identity persistent only while
> in-memory? Suppose it could be pickled, or better yet, a lexical binding
> equated to it per the
> proposal in a function is declared, and the function is pickled, then
> serialized to a secure storage channel. Then the in-memory references to n
> other than x[n] -- but not references to x -- all go away, and the GC runs.
> It is required that Name instances never equate to any string. But that
> does not mean they couldn't be pickled and unpickled. It does not mean they
> have unique name identity only while in memory.
> There should be no requirement that a proxy or ephemeron keeping n alive
> must remain indefinitely in-memory just so the pickled name can be unpickled
> later and used to access x[n] where x remained alive the whole time. But
> under Mark's proposal, that would be required, or else x[n] (aka n[x]) would
> go away -- become undefined -- behind the back of the storage channel user.
> I objected at the meeting this semantic reductionism, and I still do.
> Private names are not the same as ephemerons.

Brendan, I have now read that strawman page carefully and then reread your
email several times. I am utterly confused. I see no connection between the
two. If the pickling above is transparent and orthogonal, then it is a
semantics-free part of the implementation, like virtual memory, and is
unproblematic. If it is not transparent, do you imagine it being implemented
in JavaScript? If so, then I don't understand your first step: "the function
is pickled". Functions are encapsulated, so JavaScript code can't obtain
enough information from one to pickle it.

The strawman page says nothing about pickling or any related issue. I see
nothing on the strawman page that conflicts with my proposed reduction to
ephemerons. What am I missing?

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