[ruby-core:23630] Expected Behaviour of Modifying an Iterator in the Block to Which it Yields?

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[ruby-core:23630] Expected Behaviour of Modifying an Iterator in the Block to Which it Yields? Run Paint Run Run 5/29/09 6:38 PM
Hi,

While writing some specifications for RubySpec, I've encountered an issue that
I'd appreciate clarification on: What is the expected behaviour of an iterator
if it is modified inside of the block to which it yields?

For example, the following enters an infinite loop because it appends to the
Array being iterated over for each iteration. Here, the number of iterations
can be increased from within the block.

>> a = (1..10).to_a
=> [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]
>> a.each { |e| a << 0 }
# Infinite loop

Conversely, calling a.reject!(true) inside the iterator block truncates the
Array, halting iteration:

>> a = (1..10).to_a
=> [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]
>> a.each { |e| a.reject!{true}; p e }
1
=> []

Prepending to an Array, increases the number of iterations:

>> @prepend = true
=> true
>> a=(1..10).to_a
=> [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]
>> a.each {|e| a.unshift(0) if @prepend; @prepend = false; p e}
1
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
=> [0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]

When iterating over an Array, deleting the element that is being yielded
reduces the number of iterations::

>> a=(1..10).to_a
=> [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]
>> a.each { |e| a.delete(e); p e }
1
3
5
7
9
=> [2, 4, 6, 8, 10]

However, with a Hash:

>> h={:foo=>:bar, :glark => :quark}
=> {:foo=>:bar, :glark=>:quark}
>> h.each_key{|k| h.delete(k); p k}
:foo
:glark
=> {}

In the following example assigning to a[-1] changes the final element yielded:

>> a=(1..10).to_a
=> [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]
>> a.each {|e| a[-1] = 0; p e }
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
0
=> [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0]

In this example, assigning to the object being iterated over while inside the
block doesn't affect the iteration.

>> a = (1..10).to_a
=> [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]
>> a.each { |e| a = 0; p e }
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
=> [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]

Similarly, changing the 0th element of the Array doesn't have any effect:

>> a=(1..10).to_a
=> [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]
>> a.each { |e| a[0] = 0; p e }
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
=> [0, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]

The principles I derive from this are:

The abstraction of iterating over Arrays as collections of objects with #each
is broken somewhat because it is revealed that it's the Array's index that is
used in the iteration. So, if one assigns to an index of the Array that has
already been iterated over, the new object will not be yielded to the block.
However, the opposite case will yield the new object. The reliance on indicies
is most apparent when considering the #unshift example, because it results in
the original 0th element being yielded twice, and the new 0th element not
being yielded at all.

In both cases, truncating the iterator reduces the number of iterations, and
appending to the iterator increases the same. In both cases, changing the type
of the iterator from inside the block has no effect on the iteration.

However, these principles don't hold when considering other types of
iterators. For example, using String#each_char, and appending to the String
from inside the block, does not affect the iteration whatsoever. Similarly,
assigning to an index of the String has no effect on the iteration.

There are clearly more complex examples, but I think these are enough to
explain the situation. I'm wondering whether this class of behaviour should be
considered defined or undefined. and if the former, whether there are any
general principles at work here. What's the Right Thing to do in cases where
the iterator is modified from inside the block it yields to? Or is the answer
simply that the current behaviour is correct by definition? :-)

--
Run Paint Run Run
<http://vim.runpaint.org/>

[ruby-core:23633] Re: Expected Behaviour of Modifying an Iterator in the Block to Which it Yields? Yukihiro Matsumoto 5/30/09 5:42 AM
Hi,

In message "Re: [ruby-core:23630] Expected Behaviour of Modifying an Iterator in the Block to Which it         Yields?"


    on Sat, 30 May 2009 10:38:52 +0900, Run Paint Run Run <run...@runpaint.org> writes:

|While writing some specifications for RubySpec, I've encountered an issue that
|I'd appreciate clarification on: What is the expected behaviour of an iterator
|if it is modified inside of the block to which it yields?

It is undefined behavior of iterators if the block modifies iterating
object.  It may crash or fall in to infinite loop.

                                                        matz.

[ruby-core:23637] Re: Expected Behaviour of Modifying an Iterator in the Block to Which it Yields? Run Paint Run Run 5/30/09 6:27 AM

Thank you, matz! That's just what I was looking for. :-)

--
Run Paint Run Run
<http://vim.runpaint.org/>