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[CLJ-1454] Companion to swap! which returns the old value Created: 28/Jun/14  Updated: 10/Sep/14

Status: Open
Project: Clojure
Component/s: None
Affects Version/s: None
Fix Version/s: None

Type: Enhancement Priority: Major
Reporter: Philip Potter Assignee: Unassigned
Resolution: Unresolved Votes: 6
Labels: atom

Approval: Triaged

 Description   

Sometimes, when mutating an atom, it's desirable to know what the value before the swap happened. The existing swap! function returns the new value, so is unsuitable for this use case. Currently, the only option is to roll your own using a loop and compare-and-set!

An example of this would be where the atom contains a PersistentQueue and you want to atomically remove the head of the queue and process it: if you run (swap! a pop), you have lost the reference to the old head of the list so you can't process it.

It would be good to have a new function swap-returning-old! which returned the old value instead of the new.



 Comments   
Comment by Philip Potter [ 28/Jun/14 4:00 PM ]

Overtone already defines functions like this in overtone.helpers.ref, which get used by overtone.libs.event. These return both the old and the new value, although in all existing use cases only the old value gets used.

flatland/useful defines a trade! fn which returns the old value, although the implementation is less clean than a compare-and-set! based solution would be.

Comment by Philip Potter [ 29/Jun/14 6:23 AM ]

Chris Ford suggested "swap-out!" as a name for this function. I definitely think "swap-returning-old!" isn't the ideal name.

Comment by Jozef Wagner [ 30/Jun/14 1:33 AM ]

I propose a switch! name. The verb switch is defined as "substitute (two items) for each other; exchange.", and as you get the old value back, it evokes slightly the exchange of items.

Comment by Philip Potter [ 30/Jun/14 3:03 AM ]

Medley also has a deref-swap! which does the same thing.

Comment by Alex Miller [ 30/Jun/14 8:20 AM ]

I think deref-swap! seems like a morally equivalent name to Java's AtomicReference.getAndSet() which is the same idea.

Comment by Philip Potter [ 30/Jun/14 1:19 PM ]

Funny you say that Alex, because prismatic/plumbing defines a get-and-set! (also defined by other projects), equivalent to deref-reset! in medley. Plumbing also defines swap-pair! which returns both old and new values, like the overtone fn, although once again the only usage I can find only uses the old value.

Comment by Alex Miller [ 30/Jun/14 3:37 PM ]

I think it's important to retain the notion that you are not switching/exchanging values but applying the update model of applying a function to the old value to produce the new value. I don't even particularly like "swap!" as I think that aspect is lost in the name (alter and alter-var-root are better). I like that "deref-swap!" combines two words with existing connotations and orders them appropriately.

Comment by Timothy Baldridge [ 30/Jun/14 3:43 PM ]

except that that naming doesn't fit well compared to functions like nfirst which are defined as (comp next first). This function is not (comp deref swap!).





[CLJ-803] IAtom interface Created: 27/May/11  Updated: 07/Oct/14  Resolved: 07/Oct/14

Status: Closed
Project: Clojure
Component/s: None
Affects Version/s: Release 1.6
Fix Version/s: Release 1.7

Type: Enhancement Priority: Minor
Reporter: Pepijn de Vos Assignee: Unassigned
Resolution: Completed Votes: 4
Labels: atom

Attachments: Text File 0001-atom-interface.patch     Text File iatom.patch    
Patch: Code
Approval: Ok

 Description   

Atom does not have an interface and is marked final. This patch extracts an IAtom interface and has Atom implement it.

Patch: 0001-atom-interface.patch

Screened by: Alex Miller

More info: Rich said "patch welcome for IAtom". See IRC logs: http://clojure-log.n01se.net/date/2010-12-29.html#10:04c



 Comments   
Comment by Stuart Halloway [ 27/May/11 2:33 PM ]

Please add a patch formatted by "git format-patch" so that attribution is included.

Comment by Pepijn de Vos [ 04/Jun/11 5:56 AM ]

I added the formatted patch a few days ago. Does 'no news is good news' apply here?

And, silly question, will it make it into 1.3? I can't figure out how to tell Jira to show me that.

Comment by Kevin Downey [ 04/Jul/11 9:06 PM ]

I fail to see the need for an IAtom, if you want something atom like for couchdb the interfaces are already there. Maybe I ICompareAndSwap. Atoms and couchdb are different so making them appear the same is a bad idea.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallacies_of_Distributed_Computing

http://clojure.org/state one of the distinctions between agents and actors raised in the section titled "Message Passing and Actors" is local vs. distributed and the same distinction can be made between couchdb (regardless of compare and swap) and atoms

Comment by Aaron Bedra [ 04/Jul/11 9:18 PM ]

This ticket has already been moved into approved backlog. It will be revisited again after the 1.3 release where we will take a closer look at things. For now, this will remain as is.

Comment by Aaron Craelius [ 10/Jul/14 12:15 PM ]

Any chance this patch could get implemented in an upcoming Clojure release. There is still continued interest, see this thread: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/clojure-dev/y5QoMqd44Lc

One suggestion I would make is also removing the final marker from clojure.lang.Atom - I can see use cases where one would want to directly subclass Atom (to capture dependencies in reactive computations for instance).

Comment by Brandon Bloom [ 02/Aug/14 2:14 PM ]

I'd like to see an IAtom interface, but would prefer that `swap` not be part of it. Swapping can, and should, be defined in terms of `compareAndSet`. Seems like IAtom should only have `boolean compareAndSet(object oldval, object newval)` as well as `void reset(object newval)`.

Comment by Brandon Bloom [ 02/Aug/14 2:29 PM ]

Alternative patch that introduces IAtom and converts swap to be static.

Comment by Pepijn de Vos [ 03/Aug/14 2:59 AM ]

At the time I did the initial patch, I had the same idea to remove swap, but Rich said there where cases for having it, so it should stay in according to him.

Comment by Aaron Craelius [ 03/Aug/14 1:51 PM ]

One use case I can think of for overriding swap is if an IAtom is wrapping say a row of data stored in a database. Then comparing something like a version column (or transaction id in the case of datomic) is what should determine whether a swap is retried, not the actual value of the data. In this case then, compareAndSet would actually be a more complex operation than swap and it makes sense to define the two independently.

Comment by Aaron Craelius [ 03/Aug/14 1:56 PM ]

I should also mention my related issue: http://dev.clojure.org/jira/browse/CLJ-1470 which simply allows Atom (and also ARef) to be sub-classed. Both patches could ultimately work together to make the whole Atom/ARef infrastructure easier to extend.

Comment by Alex Miller [ 10/Sep/14 4:47 PM ]

This ticket needs some work before it can be screened:

  • description can lose the the Couch stuff
  • needs some mention of tradeoffs for the various swap alternatives
  • don't know what patch should be considered
Comment by Brandon Bloom [ 10/Sep/14 5:01 PM ]

I removed my patch because Pepijn/Rich is right: Swap should be part of the interface.





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