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From: Andy Little (andy_at_[hidden])
Date: 2006-07-26 10:16:13

"Aleksey Gurtovoy" <agurtovoy_at_[hidden]> wrote in message
> Andy Little writes:
>> IMO the Integral Constant Concept is over specified in the mpl
>> docs. What is the rationale behind the next<..> and prior <..>
>> requirements?
> The corresponding operations are handy and available for every
> integral type?

I am sure no expert on Concepts, but my understanding is that a Concept should
specify the minimum requirements, not the maximum or try to include anything
that *might* come in handy, which would anyway be impossible.

next and prior can be trivially specified in terms of the math operations of
addition and subtraction. IOW if a type t is an Integral Constant and is Addable
then next<t>::type can be generated automatically, but the basic math,
comparison and logical operations, arent in the Integral Constant requirements,
at least in boost-1.33.1.

A bool_ is stated to be a model of Integral Constant, but it patently doesnt and
can never meet the next / prior requirements. It is arguable whether a bool
should be a model of Integral Constant anyway ( in fact I believe that there
should be a separate Boolean Constant and the Boost type traits functions should
use a model of that where appropriate rather than integral_constant), but that
depends on how the Concept is specified. If Addition is specified for example,
then the semantics are different for boolean types ( and for a bool_ next and
prior is ambiguous then), a good argument for not making bool_ a model of
integral constant in that case. If a bool_ is a model of Integral Constant then
Addition should not be specified for Integral Constant and by implication next/
prior should not be specified either as they are just special cases of the more
general Concepts.

In my use of integral constants, comparison for equality is the most used
operation, followed by arithmetic. I have never used the next ,prior functions.
To me math ,comparison and logic operations are more likely candidates for
Integral Constant Requirements. Some of these are required by both bools and
integers and some not. The point where the requirements or semantic differ is
probably the level of detail that the Concepts should be specified at.

>> These seem to have little to do with an Integral Constant.
> IMO that's equivalent to saying that operations of increment and
> decrement have little to do with a concept of an integer number.

increment and decrement are more precise terms than next and prior but they can
be trivially specified in terms of the usual math operations, addition and
subtraction. That is given a number is Addable and Subtractible, it is
automatically Incrementable and Decrementable.

It should also be stated that these constants arent perfect models of integers,
what happens in the case of math on constants of different value_types , whether
a given math operation is possible ( without overflow) and so on.

>> Maybe they should rather be another Concept , such as Iterable?
> They _could be_ factored out in a separate concept, but that doesn't
> automatically means denying users the guarantee of having convenient
> access to the basic operations like increment/decrement.

They arent denied anything, if, in places where such functionality is required,
that it is stated that X is required to be a model of Iterable. FWIW my use has
never needed such a requirement. I do however usually need comparisons and math,
but again not math in the case of boolean constants.

>> Where N is a model of Iterable:
>> next<N>::type
>> prior<N>::type
>> Currently for example, mpl::bool_ is stated to be a model of
>> Integral Constant, but it fails to meet the curently stated
>> requirments, nor can it ever AFAICS.
> Surely this could work and would make sense, no?
> BOOST_MPL_ASSERT(( is_same< next<false_>::type, true_ > ));
> BOOST_MPL_ASSERT(( is_same< prior<true_>::type, false_ > ));

How often do you need to do this ? and what does next<true_>::type mean?
true and false arent numbers. false is not less than true. (boolean != binary
before anyone makes the link)

>> Further the requirements currently include a member ::value_type.
>> According to the TMP book, this is a classic example of a traits
>> blob. (section 2.2).
> In a way.

OK. The book goes on to say, "we will avoid this idiom at all costs, since it
creates major problems."

>> Surely access should be specified using value_type<C>::type?
> It could be (ignoring for the moment the fact that the 'value_type'
> name is already taken),
> but it has nothing to do with the
> presence of the requirement, in whatever form, in the concept.

It was suggested to me that I use the mpl Integral Constant Concept in my own
work. I am also attempting to use the mpl Concepts as a guide to good style. I
am examining Integral Constant from this viewpoint.
I am currently trying to write Concepts for my own types parameters.. Bearing
in mind that the inadequate Concept documentation was one of the main reasons
that PQS was rejected., so now I am trying to get it right. One concept in the
quan library is currently called StaticAbstractQuantity:

One goal of this Concept is that it should be possible to make a raw mpl::vector
a model of StaticAbstractQuantity. In order to do this I have opted to use
'free' metafunctions for the associated types. For other developers working on
the project I need to explain why this is a good idea.
Of course developers can point to examples like this and say, mpl doesnt do
that. Why should we?

> Theoretically, we could factor out every single requirement in its own
> concept, but that doesn't necessarily going to improve the quality of
> the resulting concept language.

Mixing orthogonal Concepts has resulted in the problems with bool_. By factoring
out the separate Concepts it is possible to see which apply to bool_ and which

>> Finally the runtime evaluation requirement could be removed and a
>> refinement of ValueType such as RunTime Evaluable be stated in terms
>> such as:
>> Where T is a type modelling Runtime Evaluable
>> value_type<T>::type = t();
> Again, I don't see any value in denying users of the concept access to
> the functionality that is by definition available for every possible
> model of the concept.

By making this a separate Concept, I could write algorithms which only have the
Runtime Evaluable requirement. They dont need to be members of Integral
Constant. A compile time rational could be evaluated at runtime for example, but
it is not a model of Integral Constant.

If the only requirement is Runtime Evaluable, both rational and int_ are models.

>> For a type N The current Integral Constant spec would then, in those
>> places where these requirements are required:
>> N is a model of Iterable, Integral Constant and Runtime Evaluable.
> I don't see how this is an improvement, given that IMO every integral
> constant is by definition Iterable and Runtime Evaluable.

Sure and there is a lot to be gained by identifying these as separate Concepts.
And what we have in mpl Integral Constant is a bag of loosely related Concepts.

>> This would allow me to meet the new Integral Constant requirements
>> without unneccesary baggage.
> May be if you start with describing what you are trying to achieve and
> how the Integral Constant's requirements stand in your way, we'd have
> better chances of figuring out the best way to resolve these issues.

I hope I have explained some of the problems I have with it.

Another problem is that there are in fact hidden requirements, not mentioned in
the Documentation, as I tried to demonstrate in the example code in the other
message in this thread.

Andy Little

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