Rust-GC note

The gist about design

magic_gc_XXX seems to be global & static.

What's diff between mark, trace and add_root?

add_root: ref-counted, which happens during object acquisition will be dynamically recorded.

mark: only used during GC period?

trace: ... it will be called recursively, it is a trait of obj. so trace is to tract, and mark on the traced stuff? Where is the mark? How the mark is implemented as a ds?

If some T implements Trace, it can be traced? What is the semantics here?

GcBox is the internal ds hold a GCed value. It has the root reqs on it. "how to understand rooting as a req?" Why the _roots is implemented as a Cell.

Cell and RefCell are shareable mutable container. Cell<T> provides get and set methods that change the interior. Cell<T> is only compatible with Copyable value. For other type, RefCell with mutex has to be used.

RefCell's life time is tracked dynamically, in contrast to the static tracking of Rust's native reference types.

What is NonZero? malloc_gc_allocate would return such a wrapped mutable raw pointer to a GcBox type.

Maybe the best way to understand Rust is to draw something

GcBox { roots; value }
          |      | 
          v      \---> T
Heap    Cell

The value of roots is accesses with get and set.

GC is another layer of container. Is is another wrapped by mysterious NonZero but containing a non-mutable raw pointer pointing to a GcBox.

When new, the GcBox will be unrooted first. It is something stored internally. The reference to GcBox can also be exposed to outside world with inner method.

While the interesting thing is to provide the Trace trait to Gc. It is like to say, anything (T) can be traced can be GCed as long as we can trace the Gc<T>. The methods are mostly delegated to the inner GcBox.

We will also implement Clone and Deref to Gc<T>.

Clone trait is for types that cannot be "implicitly copied". When the type is not so simple, and it is allocated and has finalizers (i.e. they do not contain owned boxed or implement Drop), it can't be implicitly copied.

Deref's semantic is to take a value from a pointer-like stuff.

GcCell is mutable. It doesn't use T directly, but wrapped with another layer of RefCell.

borrow lasts until the returned ref Ref exits its scope. borrow_mut is mutable and unique. Ref wraps a borrowed reference to a value in a RefCell box. borrow_state can be used to do a inspection. If it already borrowed mutably, it is already rooted somewhere else so we don't have to trace again. If not, we will trace its internal value.

GcCellRefMut acts as a RAII guard. It provides access to inner value while ensuring that the data isn't collected incorrectly. It has both a ref and a box. So why two sources?

For Deref and DerefMut, the ref one is used.

For Drop, both the box and the ref is unrooted.

A remarkable point is that it is explicitly notated a lifetime 'a why?

RefMut is a wrapper type for a mutably borrowed value from a RefCell<T>

GcCellRefMut { _box; _ref }
                 |    |
             /--/      \---\
            |               |
            v               v
          GcBox           RefMut
            |               |
            v               /
          RefCell          /
            |             /
            v            /
           value <------/

Here is something to clarify: mut, ref, and cell.

For the native mut used by Rust compiler, it is a static checking mark to ensure that the mutability is declared. So it is easier to check other operations involving ownership.

While for ref, it is mostly a library function, providing some more flexible & semantics. It is from core::cell. cell is a data structure. Sharing is implemented by Rc, while mutable sharing is provided by RefCell. I don't know clearly its relationship with the more builtin stuff however.