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[Python-Dev] PEP 590 discussion


On 3/30/19 11:36 PM, Jeroen Demeyer wrote:
> On 2019-03-30 17:30, Mark Shannon wrote:
>> 2. The claim that PEP 580 allows "certain optimizations because other
>> code can make assumptions" is flawed. In general, the caller cannot make
>> assumptions about the callee or vice-versa. Python is a dynamic language.
> 
> PEP 580 is meant for extension classes, not Python classes. Extension 
> classes are not dynamic. When you implement tp_call in a given way, the 
> user cannot change it. So if a class implements the C call protocol or 
> the vectorcall protocol, callers can make assumptions about what that 
> means.
> 
>> PEP 579 is mainly a list of supposed flaws with the
>> 'builtin_function_or_method' class.
>> The general thrust of PEP 579 seems to be that builtin-functions and
>> builtin-methods should be more flexible and extensible than they are. I
>> don't agree. If you want different behaviour, then use a different
>> object. Don't try an cram all this extra behaviour into a pre-existing
>> object.
> 
> I think that there is a misunderstanding here. I fully agree with the 
> "use a different object" solution. This isn't a new solution: it's 
> already possible to implement those different objects (Cython does it). 
> It's just that this solution comes at a performance cost and that's what 
> we want to avoid.

It does seem like there is some misunderstanding.

PEP 580 defines a CCall structure, which includes the function pointer, 
flags, "self" and "parent". Like the current implementation, it has 
various METH_ flags for various C signatures. When called, the info from 
CCall is matched up (in relatively complex ways) to what the C function 
expects.

PEP 590 only adds the "vectorcall". It does away with flags and only has 
one C signatures, which is designed to fit all the existing ones, and is 
well optimized. Storing the "self"/"parent", and making sure they're 
passed to the C function is the responsibility of the callable object.
There's an optimization for "self" (offsetting using 
PY_VECTORCALL_ARGUMENTS_OFFSET), and any supporting info can be provided 
as part of "self".

>> I'll reiterate that PEP 590 is more general than PEP 580 and that once
>> the callable's code has access to the callable object (as both PEPs
>> allow) then anything is possible. You can't can get more extensible than
>> that.

Anything is possible, but if one of the possibilities becomes common and 
useful, PEP 590 would make it hard to optimize for it.
Python has grown many "METH_*" signatures over the years as we found 
more things that need to be passed to callables. Why would 
"METH_VECTORCALL" be the last? If it won't (if you think about it as one 
more way to call functions), then dedicating a tp_* slot to it sounds 
quite expensive.


In one of the ways to call C functions in PEP 580, the function gets 
access to:
- the arguments,
- "self", the object
- the class that the method was found in (which is not necessarily 
type(self))
I still have to read the details, but when combined with 
LOAD_METHOD/CALL_METHOD optimization (avoiding creation of a "bound 
method" object), it seems impossible to do this efficiently with just 
the callable's code and callable's object.


> I would argue the opposite: PEP 590 defines a fixed protocol that is not 
> easy to extend. PEP 580 on the other hand uses a new data structure 
> PyCCallDef which could easily be extended in the future (this will 
> intentionally never be part of the stable ABI, so we can do that).
> 
> I have also argued before that the generality of PEP 590 is a bad thing 
> rather than a good thing: by defining a more rigid protocol as in PEP 
> 580, more optimizations are possible.
>
>> PEP 580 has the same limitation for the same reasons. The limitation is
>> necessary for correctness if an object supports calls via `__call__` and
>> through another calling convention.
> 
> I don't think that this limitation is needed in either PEP. As I 
> explained at the top of this email, it can easily be solved by not using 
> the protocol for Python classes. What is wrong with my proposal in PEP 
> 580: https://www.python.org/dev/peps/pep-0580/#inheritance


I'll add Jeroen's notes from the review of the proposed PEP 590
(https://github.com/python/peps/pull/960):

The statement "PEP 580 is specifically targetted at function-like 
objects, and doesn't support other callables like classes, partial 
functions, or proxies" is factually false. The motivation for PEP 580 is 
certainly function/method-like objects but it's a general protocol that 
every class can implement. For certain classes, it may not be easy or 
desirable to do that but it's always possible.

Given that `PY_METHOD_DESCRIPTOR` is a flag for tp_flags, shouldn't it 
be called `Py_TPFLAGS_METHOD_DESCRIPTOR` or something?

Py_TPFLAGS_HAVE_VECTOR_CALL should be Py_TPFLAGS_HAVE_VECTORCALL, to be 
consistent with tp_vectorcall_offset and other uses of "vectorcall" (not 
"vector call")


And mine, so far:

I'm not clear on the constness of the "args" array.
If it is mutable (PyObject **), you can't, for example, directly pass a 
tuple's storage (or any other array that could be used in the call).
If it is not (PyObject * const *), you can't insert the "self" argument in.
The reference implementations seems to be inconsistent here. What's the 
intention?