Comp 210 Lab 12: Side-effects on structures, Imperative Programming

Side-effects on structures, Imperative programming

Side-effects on structures

An example

So let's make some sample structures:

     (define-struct person (birthyear haircolor annoying activity))

     (define mary-kate-olsen (make-person 1986 'blonde true 'smiling))
     (define ashley-olsen    (make-person 1986 'blonde true 'smiling))

     (define michelle-tanner1 mary-kate-olsen)
     (define michelle-tanner2 ashley-olsen)
You'll see why we're using the ultra-annoying Olsen twins as an example. (Heh, heh. Evil grin.) In case you don't know, they are the child stars who played Michelle Tanner in an inanely stupid TV show "Full House".

Clearly, your expectations are that

Q: What does the following do? First, step through the evaluation in your head, then confirm it with DrScheme.

     (define (kill-person! person)
         (set-person-activity! person 'dead)
         (set-person-annoying! person false))
     (kill-person! ashley-olsen)

     (person-activity michell-tanner2) => ?
     (person-activity mary-kate-olsen) => ?

Note that, by convention, most Scheme functions and special forms which change the state of something are named with a bang (!). It helps to remind us that these things can be dangerous.

eq? tests whether two things are really the same thing, while equal? tests whether they look alike. Q:

     (eq? mary-kate-olsen michelle-tanner1)    => ?
     (eq? mary-kate-olsen ashley-olsen)        => ?
     (equal? mary-kate-olsen michelle-tanner1) => ?
     (equal? mary-kate-olsen ashley-olsen)     => ?

List examples

Cons-cells are just predefined kinds of structures, using a naming convention doesn't quite correspond to user-defined structures. They use the special forms set-car! and set-cdr!. (car and cdr are the traditional names for first and rest, respectively. However, the implementors of DrScheme forgot to define the names set-first! and set-rest!.) Remember that while each cons-cell is a structure, a list is a bunch of cons-cells.

To do:

     (define mylist (list 1 3 5 7))
     (define yourlist (cdr mylist))

     (set-car! yourlist 10)         ; the car/first should be a list element
     ; what is mylist now?
     ; what is yourlist now?

     (set-cdr! mylist (list 2 4))   ; the cdr/rest should be a list
     ; what is mylist now?
     ; what is yourlist now?

To do: What is alist after the following? Think about it first, then see what DrScheme does.

     (define alist (list 1 3 5 7))
     (set-cdr! (cdr alist) alist)

The shared output you'll see is basically the same as local.


eq? tests equality of simple non-compound values, such as numbers and symbols and also references, which are now considered values.

For the curious...

A reference is really just the same thing as a location, pointer, or memory address. These latter terms have more low-level connotations, dependent on the machine model (which we'll describe later in this course).

Scheme, Java, and other languages use references a lot, but hide them from the programmer. Much of the problem of writing Scheme-like functions in languages such as C is that, in those languages, the programmer is expected to deal with references explicitly.

Imperative Programming

This course has dealt primarily with a style of programming known as functional programming, or to also include the previous couple weeks, mostly-functional programming. Another style is imperative programming, which focuses primarily on side-effects (e.g., set! and set-struct-field!), rather than passing arguments. Here, we will begin to see the relation between the two.

  1. We start with a simple structurally recursive program:
         (define (sum-list alon)
            (cond [(empty? alon) 0]
                  [(cons? alon)  (+ (first alon) (sum-list (rest alon)))]))
  2. We can then obtain the accumulator version:
         (define (sum-list alon)
            (local [(define (sum-list-acc the-lon accum)
                       (cond [(empty? the-lon) accum]
                             [(cons? the-lon)  (sum-list-acc (rest the-lon)
                                                             (+ (first the-lon)
               (sum-list-acc alon 0)))
  3. We'll rewrite this to avoid passing arguments in the helper function and, instead, change local variables:
         (define (sum-list alon)
            (local [(define accum 0)
                    (define the-lon alon)
                    (define (sum-list!)
                       (cond [(empty? the-lon) accum]
                             [(cons? the-lon)  (begin
                                                  (set! accum
                                                        (+ (first the-lon) accum))
                                                  (set! the-lon
                                                        (rest the-lon))
    Q: Does the order of the two set!s matter?
  4. Lastly, we can rewrite this as a loop, here using Scheme's main looping construct:
         (define (sum-list alon)
            (local [(define accum 0)]
               (loop-until alon
                           (lambda (the-lon)
                              (set! accum (+ first the-lon) accum)))
    To do: Play around with loop-until. It takes four arguments: a starting value to loop on, a test for what value to stop on, a function to get the next loop value from the current one, and a function to evaluate on each loop iteration.

Which is best?

To do: Write imperative versions of