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Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 8 Feb 2012 17:34:28 +0100
Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <[log in to unmask]>
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Lars Hellström <[log in to unmask]>
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dongen skrev 2012-02-07 19.34:
> * Bruno Le Floch<[log in to unmask]>  [2012-02-06 04:26:24 -0500]:
> Hi Bruno,
> I'm starting to understand the problem with expandable caching.
> I think there's a general expandable solution to this. Let's assume we want
> to compute f( n ). We compute is by computing f2( {}, n ). The first argument
> is the cache of f2. The value that's returned by f2 is a pair (c,r), where c
> is the last cache of f2 and r the result of f( n ).

The problem with expandable caching is in _how_ one stores the cached data. 
The elementary way of storing information in TeX is to make an assignment, 
but an assignment is a command, and thus cannot be performed at expand-time. 
The subset of TeX programming techniques that are available at 
expand-only-time are quite unlike imperative programming, and also (AFAICT) 
not so much supported by the LaTeX3 kernel at the moment. One illustration 
of this is provided by the suggested solution to the "Mapping Functions 
Versions for All and Some" that are still in the title this thread: it 
involved setting a flag variable. Setting a flag is an assignment, so that 
solution would not do for an "All" or "Some" predicate that had to be 
evaluated at expand-time.

This does not mean it is impossible to do at expand-time, but one has to 
employ a different set of programming techniques when doing it: mostly 
techniques from functional programming, and when nothing else helps resort 
to combinatory logic (as the equivalent and more traditional lambda calculus 
requires a lambda operator, which again is not available at expand-time in 
TeX). Since caches can be implemented in lambda calculus, one can make an 
expand-time cache in TeX, but the details are not exactly easy to get right.

FWIW, making something expandable that could cache arbitrary amounts of data 
was a motivating use-case when I set out to write that 2-3-tree package I've 
mentioned earlier. It is feasible to use (or will be, once finished), but I 
think the programming style will take many quite some time to get used to.

> This seems very doable and I think it's possible to do it in a time complexity
> that is at most O( c^2 ), where c is the number of things that have to be cached.

You're thinking recursions of bounded length here? Be aware that even with a 
cache of fixed length it may be a nontrivial problem to write a TeX macro 
that will access the right elements; one tends to run out of arguments (#9 
is the last there is). Writing correct code that automatically defines the 
necessary macro is even trickier.

> It's also possible to optimise the cache, in the sense that lookups for
> frequently looked up items are more efficient.

If computations are not restricted to expand-time, then any access is just 
O(1), so no need to optimise. But if you want to be building the cache at 
expand-time then you're into very deep waters.

> I'll try and implement this for a toy example. If it proves successful,

Considering your performance so far, a success at that would surprise me; 
more likely you'll end up producing a piece of code that doesn't work as 
intended and then asking everyone why it doesn't. Learn to walk before you 
run. :-)

Lars Hellström