Nil shall warn or fail but not both

May 14, 2019 1 comment

As announced earlier I went to write a module to make Nil.list behave a little better. There are basicly two way Nil could be turned into a list. One should warn the same way as Nil.Str does and the other should end the program loudly. Doing both at the same time however does not make sense.

There are a few ways this could be done. One is augmenting Nil with a list method and have this method check a dynamic variable to pick the desired behaviour. That would be slow and might hurt if Nil.list is called in a loop. The other is by using a custom sub EXPORT and a given switch.

# lib/NoNilList/Warning.pm6
use NoNilList 'Warning';
# lib/NoNilList/Fatal.pm6
use NoNilList 'Fatal';
# lib/NoNilList.pm6

sub EXPORT($_?) {
    given $_ {
        when 'Warning' {
             # augment Nil with a warning .list
        when 'Fatal' {
             # augment Nil with a failing .list
        default {
            die 'Please use NoNilList::Warning or NoNilList::Fatal.';

    %() # Rakudo complains without this

Now use NoNilList; will yield a compile time error with a friedly hint how to avoid it.

I left the augmenting part out because it does not work. I thought I stepped on #2779 again but was corrected that this is acually a different bug. Jnthn++ fixed part of that new bug (Yes, Perl 6 bugs are so advanced they come in multiple parts.) and proposed the use of the MOP instead. That resulted in #2897. The tricky bit is that I have to delay augmentation of Nil to after the check on $_ because augment is a declarator and as such executed at compile time — in a module that can be months before the program starts to run. Both an augment in an EVAL string and the MOP route would lead there. I wanted to use this module as my debut on 6PAN. That will have to wait for another time.

If you find a bug please file it. It will lead to interresting discoveries for sure.

Categories: Perl6

MONKEY see no Nil

May 4, 2019 Leave a comment

In a for loop Nil is turned into a List with one Element that happens to be Any. This really buged me so I went to find out why. As it turns out the culprit is the very definition of Nil is Cool. To be able to turn any single value into a List Cool implements method list(). Which takes a single values and turns that value into a List with that one value. Nil indicates the absense of a value and turning it into a value doesn’t make sense. Luckily we can change that.


augment class Nil {
    method list() {
        note 'Trying to turn Nil into a list.';


sub niler() { Nil }

for niler() { say 'oi‽' }

We can’t just warn because that would show the wrong point in the stack trace. So we note (which also goes to $*ERR) and pull the last value out of the Backtrace.

Interestingly Failure throws both in .list and in .iterator. Nil implements push, append, unshift and prepend by immediatly die-ing. Adding more to nothing is deadly but turning nothing first into something vaguely undefined and then allowing to add more stuff to it is inconsistent at best. What leads me to believe that Nil.list as it is specced today is just an oversight.

At least I can now write a simple module to protect my code from surprising Nils.

Categories: Perl6

Parallel permutations

April 27, 2019 Leave a comment

Jo Christian Oterhals asked for a parallel solution for challenge 2. I believe he had problems to find one himself, because his code sports quite a few for loops. By changing those to method call chains, we can use .hyper to run at lease some code concurrently.

use v6.d;

constant CORES = $*KERNEL.cpu-cores;

# workaround for #1210
sub prefix:<[max]>(%h){ %h.sort(-*.value).first }

my %dict = "/usr/share/dict/words"{ .lc => True });

my %seen;
%dict.keys».&{ %seen{.comb.sort.join}++; };

with [max] %seen {
    say .value, .key.comb.hyper(:batch(1024), :degree(CORES)).permutations».join.grep({ %dict{$_}:exists }).Str

My approach is a little different then Jo’s. I don’t try to keep all combinations around but just count the anagrams for each entry in the word list. Then I find a word with the most anagrams (there are more candidates with the same amount that I skip) and reconstruct the anagrams for that word.

The only operation where any form of computation happens is the generation of permutations. Anything else is just too memory bound to get a boost by spinning up threads. With the .hyper-call the program is a tiny wee bit faster then with just one thread on my Threadripper box. A system with slow cores/smaller caches should benefit a little more. The main issue is that the entire word list fits into the 3rd level cache. With a bigger dataset a fast system might benefit as well.

In many cases multi-core systems are fairy dust, which makes the wallets of chip makers sparkle. Wrangling Hashs seams to be one of those.

Categories: Perl6

Nil is a pessimist

April 24, 2019 Leave a comment

Guifa was unhappy with $xml.elements returning a list with one undefined element if there are no child nodes. That led me to the conclusion that Nil is only halve Empty.

Let’s consider this piece of code.

sub nilish() { Nil }; 
for nilish() { say 'oi‽' }

my $nil := nilish();
for $nil { say 'still oi‽' }

sub no-return() { }
for no-return() { say 'even more oi‽' }

sub return-a-list( --> List:D ) { Nil }
for return-a-list() { say 'Should this happen?' }

# oi‽
# still oi‽
# even more oi‽
# Should this happen?

We are iterating over the special container-reset-value called Nil because there is no container to reset. Since for binds to its arguments it binds to Nil. A type object, even a very special one as Nil, is a single item which is treated as a list with one element by for.

We can solve this problem by a multi sub that turn unreasonable values into the empty list.

multi sub undefined-to-empty(Nil) { Empty }
multi sub undefined-to-empty(@a where all!*.defined)) { Empty }
multi sub undefined-to-empty(\item) { item }

for undefined-to-empty(Nil) { say 'nothing happens' }
for undefined-to-empty((Any,)) { say 'nothing happens' }

By adding a candidate that checks if there are only undefined values in a list we can also solve guifa`s problem.

This is of cause just a shim. The real solution is to stop turning nullinto Nil in native bindings. If you write a sub that has to return a list but can’t either fail or return Empty if there is nothing to return. To help avoid that mistake in the future I filed #2721.

If it looks empty or sounds emtpy or tastes emtpy make it Empty!

Categories: Perl6

Wrapping a scope

April 21, 2019 1 comment

Intricate instruments like *scopes can be quite temparatur sensitive. Wrapping them into some cosy insulator can help. With Perl 6 it is the other way around. When we wrap a Callable we need to add insulation to guard anything that is in a different scope.

On IRC AndroidKitKat asked a question about formatting Array-stringification. It was suggested to monkeytype another gist-method into Array. He was warned that precompilation would be disabled in this case. A wrapper would avoid this problem. For both solutions the problem of interference with other coders code (in doubt that is you halve a year younger) remains. Luckily we can use dynamic variables to take advantage of stack magic to solve this problem.

    sub (\a){ 
        print 'wrapped: '; 
        $*dyn ?? a.join(',') !! nextsame 

my @a = [1,2,3];

    my $*dyn = True;
    say @a;

say @a;

# output:
wrapped: 1,2,3
wrapped: [1 2 3]

Dynamic variables don’t really have a scope. They live on the stack and their assigned value travels up the call tree. A wrapper can check if that variable is defined or got a specific value and fall back to the default behaviour by calling nextsame if need be. Both.wrap and dynamic variables work across module bounderies. As such we can make the behaviour of our code much more predictable.

This paragraph was meant to wrap things up. But since blogs don’t support dynamic variables I better stop befor I mess something up.

Categories: Perl6

Conditional whenever

March 29, 2019 1 comment

I wrote a script to filter iostat because the latter either displays too much or too little. It also doesn’t know about bcache. I wanted to have the script react the same way to pressing q then top, atop or iotop. But it should only watch the keyboard and quit when $*OUT is a terminal. First we need to read the keyboard.

whenever key-pressed(:!echo) {
    when 'q' | 'Q' { done }

Now we got a few options to add a check for an attached terminal

if $*OUT.t {
    whenever key-pressed(:!echo) {
        when 'q' | 'Q' { done }
$*OUT.t && do whenever key-pressed(:!echo) {
    when 'q' | 'Q' { done }
do whenever key-pressed(:!echo) {
    when 'q' | 'Q' { done }
} if $*OUT.t

The last one kind of lines up with other whenever blocks but the condition gets harder to read. At first I thought it wont be possible to use ?? !! because whenever always wants to run .tap on the parameter. But then I remembered that we use 0x90 to tell a CPU to do nothing. If we get a Supply that does nothing we can opt out of doing something.

constant NOP =;
whenever $*OUT.t ?? key-pressed(:!echo) !! NOP {
    when 'q' | 'Q' { done }

Now it neatly lines up with other whenever blocks.

As a member of the Perl family Perl 6 has more then one way to do it. Most of them look a big odd though.

Categories: Uncategorized

I like Rakudo 100x

March 25, 2019 1 comment

One of my scripts stopped working without any change by my hands with a most peculiar error message:

Type check failed in binding to parameter '$s'; expected Str but got Int (42)
  in sub jpost at /home/bisect/.perl6/sources/674E3526955FCB738B7B736D9DBBD3BD5B162E5C (WWW) line 9
  in block <unit> at wrong-line-or-identifier.p6 line 3

Whereby line 9 looks like this:

@stations = | jpost "", :limit(42);

Rakudo is missing the parameter $s and so am I. Because neither my script nor any routine in WWW does contain it. This is clearly a regression on a rather simple piece of code and in a popular module. Since I didn’t check that script for quite some time I can’t easily tell what Rakudo commit caused it.

In #perl6 we got bisectable6, a member of the ever growing army of useful bots. Yet it could not help me because it doesn’t come with the community modules installed. Testing against a few dozen Rakudo versions by hand was out of question. So I mustered the little bash-foo I have and wrote a few scripts to build Rakudos past. This resulted in #2779.

If you wish to go on a bug hunt for time travelers too, clone the scripts, install the modules your script needs and make sure it fails with an exit code greater 0. Then run ./ <nr-of-commits> to build as many Rakudos as you like. With ./run-head-to-tail <nr-of-commits> <your-script-name-here>. Up to the number of cores of the host tests are run in parallel. After a while you get a list of OK, FAILed and SKIPed commits. Any Rakudo commit that fails to build will be SKIPed.

Running as root may not work because the modules will be put in the wrong spot by zef. A single commit will take about 70MB of disk space with little hope for deduplication.

The brave folk who push Perl 5 ever forward have a whole CPAN worth of tests to check if anything breaks while they change the compiler. Our stretch of land is still quite small in comparison but I hope to have helped with testing it better.

Categories: Perl6