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From: Robert Ramey (ramey_at_[hidden])
Date: 2005-09-13 11:10:54

This is quite interesting to me. Its going to take a little time to
consider with the attention it deserves.

Robert Ramey

> ----- Mensaje original -----
> De: David Abrahams <dave_at_[hidden]>
> Fecha: Lunes, Septiembre 12, 2005 11:06 pm
> Asunto: Re: [boost] [serialization] No Reply?
>> * You should find some way to describe what it means for an input
>> and an output archive to be compatible. Try to do that as
>> formally as possible. You may have to rely on the fuzzy C++
>> notion of "equivalence," but I wouldn't blame you for that.
> IMHO, there's no need to go fuzzy or rely on an undefined
> notion of "equivalence" between a serialized object and
> its restored copy. One can define these concepts with much
> precision in an "operational semantics" way, much as, for
> instance, semantics of logic languages is formally defined:

> * A type T is serializable if the expressions
> oar<<ct;
> iar>>t;
> are valid, where ct is of type const T& and t is of type T&,
> oar is an output archive and iar is an input archive.

The above doesn't seem right to me. I don't see its necessary here an it
makes the concept of serializable and archive circular. I believe that the
inductive definition below - and currently in the document (more or less)
defines the concept of serializable well enough.

> * The storage sequence, or simply storage, of an output
> archive oar is the ordered sequence of *all* calls s(i) of
> the form:
> oar<<out(i);
> where out(i) is of type const T(i)&.
> * Given an output archive oar with storage s(i) such
> that every T(i) is serializable, we say that an
> input archive iar is associated to oar if the sequence
> of expressions
> iar>>in(i);
> where in(i) is of type T(i)&, does not throw.
> We assume the input sequence ranges over the entire
> lifetime of iar.
> * Under the assumptions above, we say that in(i)
> is a restored copy of out(i).
> This defines association between archives in an
> abstract way. We can go concrete on a per archive
> basis, for instance:
> * Given an text output archive oar dumping to a
> file ofl, and an text input archive iar reading from
> a file if, iar is associated to oar if the
> contents of ifl coincide with those of ofl.
> Now that we have defined what it means for
> an input archive to be associated to an output archive,
> we can define the operational semantics of serialization
> from the concept "being a restored copy".
> In what follows we use the previous notation. The idea
> is to begin with primitive types and build on those.
> * If in(i) is of type bool&, in(i)==true if and only
> if out(i)==true.
> * If in(i) is of type char&, the numerical value of
> in(i) is that of out(i).
> * Similarly for other integral types. Different
> word sizes should be taken into account.
> * If in(i) is of type T*&, and T is serializable, *in(i)
> is a restored copy of *out(i).
> We can extend this schema inductively as we
> progress to more complex types. For example:
> * If in(i) is of type std::vector<T>&, and T is
> serializable, then in(i).size()==out(i).size() and
> each in(i)[j] is a restored copy of out(i)[j].
> IMHO, this is sufficiently formal and solves two
> theoretical issues:
> * We have defined association between output and
> input archives without mentioning
> extralinguistical devices (files, network streams,
> and so on.)
> * We have a satisfactory definition of what
> serialization is supposed to do without relying
> on a naive "equivalence" relationship between
> objects and their restored copies: the main
> difficulty of such a naive approach like for instance
> "the restored copy has the same value as
> the original object", is that it does not mean much
> when these objects belong to different programs,
> running on different timeframes and perhaphs
> on different platforms.
> What do you think? Admittedly, what I've written
> still has some edges to rough, but I think it is
> sound enough.
> Joaquín M López Muñoz
> Telefónica, Investigación y Desarrollo
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