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Interfacing Compiled Code to the Evaluator

We have not yet explained how to load compiled code into the evaluator machine or how to run it. We will assume that the explicit-control-evaluator machine has been defined as in section [*], with the additional operations specified in footnote [*]. We will implement a procedure compile-and-go that compiles a Scheme expression, loads the resulting object code into the evaluator machine, and causes the machine to run the code in the evaluator global environment, print the result, and enter the evaluator's driver loop. We will also modify the evaluator so that interpreted expressions can call compiled procedures as well as interpreted ones. We can then put a compiled procedure into the machine and use the evaluator to call it:

(compile-and-go
 '(define (factorial n)
    (if (= n 1)
        1
        (* (factorial (- n 1)) n))))
 ;;; EC-Eval value:
ok

 ;;; EC-Eval input:
(factorial 5)
;;; EC-Eval value:
120

To allow the evaluator to handle compiled procedures (for example, to evaluate the call to factorial above), we need to change the code at apply-dispatch (section [*]) so that it recognizes compiled procedures (as distinct from compound or primitive procedures) and transfers control directly to the entry point of the compiled code: [*]

apply-dispatch
  (test (op primitive-procedure?) (reg proc))
  (branch (label primitive-apply))
  (test (op compound-procedure?) (reg proc))  
  (branch (label compound-apply))
  (test (op compiled-procedure?) (reg proc))  
  (branch (label compiled-apply))
  (goto (label unknown-procedure-type))

compiled-apply
  (restore continue)
  (assign val (op compiled-procedure-entry) (reg proc))
  (goto (reg val))
Note the restore of continue at compiled-apply. Recall that the evaluator was arranged so that at apply-dispatch, the continuation would be at the top of the stack. The compiled code entry point, on the other hand, expects the continuation to be in continue, so continue must be restored before the compiled code is executed.

To enable us to run some compiled code when we start the evaluator machine, we add a branch instruction at the beginning of the evaluator machine, which causes the machine to go to a new entry point if the flag register is set. [*]

  (branch (label external-entry))      ; branches if flag is set
read-eval-print-loop
  (perform (op initialize-stack))
  ...
External-entry assumes that the machine is started with val containing the location of an instruction sequence that puts a result into val and ends with (goto (reg continue)). Starting at this entry point jumps to the location designated by val, but first assigns continue so that execution will return to print-result, which prints the value in val and then goes to the beginning of the evaluator's read-eval-print loop. [*]

external-entry
  (perform (op initialize-stack))
  (assign env (op get-global-environment))
  (assign continue (label print-result))
  (goto (reg val))

Now we can use the following procedure to compile a procedure definition, execute the compiled code, and run the read-eval-print loop so we can try the procedure. Because we want the compiled code to return to the location in continue with its result in val, we compile the expression with a target of val and a linkage of return. In order to transform the object code produced by the compiler into executable instructions for the evaluator register machine, we use the procedure assemble from the register-machine simulator (section [*]). We then initialize the val register to point to the list of instructions, set the flag so that the evaluator will go to external-entry, and start the evaluator.

(define (compile-and-go expression)
  (let ((instructions
         (assemble (statements
                    (compile expression 'val 'return))
                   eceval)))
    (set! the-global-environment (setup-environment))
    (set-register-contents! eceval 'val instructions)
    (set-register-contents! eceval 'flag true)
    (start eceval)))

If we have set up stack monitoring, as at the end of section [*], we can examine the stack usage of compiled code:

(compile-and-go
 '(define (factorial n)
    (if (= n 1)
        1
        (* (factorial (- n 1)) n))))

(total-pushes = 0 maximum-depth = 0) ;;; EC-Eval value: ok ;;; EC-Eval input: (factorial 5) (total-pushes = 31 maximum-depth = 14) ;;; EC-Eval value: 120

Compare this example with the evaluation of (factorial 5) using the interpreted version of the same procedure, shown at the end of section [*]. The interpreted version required 144 pushes and a maximum stack depth of 28. This illustrates the optimization that results from our compilation strategy.

Interpretation and compilation

With the programs in this section, we can now experiment with the alternative execution strategies of interpretation and compilation.[*] An interpreter raises the machine to the level of the user program; a compiler lowers the user program to the level of the machine language. We can regard the Scheme language (or any programming language) as a coherent family of abstractions erected on the machine language. Interpreters are good for interactive program development and debugging because the steps of program execution are organized in terms of these abstractions, and are therefore more intelligible to the programmer. Compiled code can execute faster, because the steps of program execution are organized in terms of the machine language, and the compiler is free to make optimizations that cut across the higher-level abstractions.[*]

The alternatives of interpretation and compilation also lead to different strategies for porting languages to new computers. Suppose that we wish to implement Lisp for a new machine. One strategy is to begin with the explicit-control evaluator of section [*] and translate its instructions to instructions for the new machine. A different strategy is to begin with the compiler and change the code generators so that they generate code for the new machine. The second strategy allows us to run any Lisp program on the new machine by first compiling it with the compiler running on our original Lisp system, and linking it with a compiled version of the run-time library.[*] Better yet, we can compile the compiler itself, and run this on the new machine to compile other Lisp programs.[*] Or we can compile one of the interpreters of section [*] to produce an interpreter that runs on the new machine.

Exercise. By comparing the stack operations used by compiled code to the stack operations used by the evaluator for the same computation, we can determine the extent to which the compiler optimizes use of the stack, both in speed (reducing the total number of stack operations) and in space (reducing the maximum stack depth). Comparing this optimized stack use to the performance of a special-purpose machine for the same computation gives some indication of the quality of the compiler.


a. Exercise [*] asked you to determine, as a function of n, the number of pushes and the maximum stack depth needed by the evaluator to compute n! using the recursive factorial procedure given above. Exercise [*] asked you to do the same measurements for the special-purpose factorial machine shown in figure [*]. Now perform the same analysis using the compiled factorial procedure.

Take the ratio of the number of pushes in the compiled version to the number of pushes in the interpreted version, and do the same for the maximum stack depth. Since the number of operations and the stack depth used to compute n! are linear in n, these ratios should approach constants as n becomes large. What are these constants? Similarly, find the ratios of the stack usage in the special-purpose machine to the usage in the interpreted version.

Compare the ratios for special-purpose versus interpreted code to the ratios for compiled versus interpreted code. You should find that the special-purpose machine does much better than the compiled code, since the hand-tailored controller code should be much better than what is produced by our rudimentary general-purpose compiler.


b. Can you suggest improvements to the compiler that would help it generate code that would come closer in performance to the hand-tailored version?  

Exercise. Carry out an analysis like the one in exercise [*] to determine the effectiveness of compiling the tree-recursive Fibonacci procedure

(define (fib n)
  (if (< n 2)
      n
      (+ (fib (- n 1)) (fib (- n 2)))))
compared to the effectiveness of using the special-purpose Fibonacci machine of figure [*]. (For measurement of the interpreted performance, see exercise [*].) For Fibonacci, the time resource used is not linear in n; hence the ratios of stack operations will not approach a limiting value that is independent of n.

Exercise. This section described how to modify the explicit-control evaluator so that interpreted code can call compiled procedures. Show how to modify the compiler so that compiled procedures can call not only primitive procedures and compiled procedures, but interpreted procedures as well. This requires modifying compile-procedure-call to handle the case of compound (interpreted) procedures. Be sure to handle all the same target and linkage combinations as in compile-proc-appl. To do the actual procedure application, the code needs to jump to the evaluator's compound-apply entry point. This label cannot be directly referenced in object code (since the assembler requires that all labels referenced by the code it is assembling be defined there), so we will add a register called compapp to the evaluator machine to hold this entry point, and add an instruction to initialize it:

  (assign compapp (label compound-apply))
  (branch (label external-entry))      ; branches if flag is set
read-eval-print-loop
  ...
To test your code, start by defining a procedure f that calls a procedure g. Use compile-and-go to compile the definition of f and start the evaluator. Now, typing at the evaluator, define g and try to call f.  

Exercise. The compile-and-go interface implemented in this section is awkward, since the compiler can be called only once (when the evaluator machine is started). Augment the compiler-interpreter interface by providing a compile-and-run primitive that can be called from within the explicit-control evaluator as follows:

;;; EC-Eval input:
(compile-and-run
 '(define (factorial n)
    (if (= n 1)
        1
        (* (factorial (- n 1)) n))))
;;; EC-Eval value:
ok

;;; EC-Eval input:
(factorial 5)
;;; EC-Eval value:
120

Exercise. As an alternative to using the explicit-control evaluator's read-eval-print loop, design a register machine that performs a read-compile-execute-print loop. That is, the machine should run a loop that reads an expression, compiles it, assembles and executes the resulting code, and prints the result. This is easy to run in our simulated setup, since we can arrange to call the procedures compile and assemble as ``register-machine operations.''  

Exercise. Use the compiler to compile the metacircular evaluator of section [*] and run this program using the register-machine simulator. (To compile more than one definition at a time, you can package the definitions in a begin.) The resulting interpreter will run very slowly because of the multiple levels of interpretation, but getting all the details to work is an instructive exercise.

Exercise. Develop a rudimentary implementation of Scheme in C (or some other low-level language of your choice) by translating the explicit-control evaluator of section [*] into C. In order to run this code you will need to also provide appropriate storage-allocation routines and other run-time support.  

Exercise. As a counterpoint to exercise [*], modify the compiler so that it compiles Scheme procedures into sequences of C instructions. Compile the metacircular evaluator of section [*] to produce a Scheme interpreter written in C.  

References



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next up previous contents
Next: About this document ... Up: Compilation Previous: Lexical Addressing
Ryan Bender
2000-04-17