Feature #17278

Updated by Dan0042 (Daniel DeLorme) over 1 year ago

### Description  

 This proposal aims to reduce (but not eliminate) the need for freezing/sharing boilerplate code needed by ractors. 

 A = [1, [2, [3, 4]]] 
 H = {a: "a"} do 
   p A    #A is not actually modified anywhere, so ok 
 H[:b] = "b"    #H was never touched by ractor, so ok 

 ## Background 

 Ractors require objects to be preemptively deep-frozen in order to be shared between ractors. This has an especially visible and restrictive effect on globals and constants. I tried thinking of a different way, and maybe I found one. So please allow me to humbly present this possibility. 

 ## Proposal 

 A constant would be by default in a "auto-shareable" state (A) which can change atomically to either 
 (B) "non-shareable" if it is modified by the main ractor 
 (C) "shareable" (and frozen) if it is accessed by a non-main ractor 

 In detail: 
 1. When an object is assigned to a constant, it is ~~added added to a list of ractor-reachable objects~~ objects 
 2. ~~When When the first ractor is created, the objects in that list are~~ are recursively marked with FL_AUTOSHARE 
    * ~~after after this point, constant assignments result directly in FL_AUTOSHARE~~ FL_AUTOSHARE 
 3. In the main ractor, a call to `rb_check_frozen` (meaning the object is being modified) will 
    1. if FL_AUTOSHARE is set (state A) **and ractors have been created** 
       * [with ractor lock] 
          * unless object is shareable 
              * unset FL_AUTOSHARE (state B) 
    2. raise error if frozen 
       * ideally with different message if object has FL_SHAREABLE 
 4. When a non-main ractor accesses a non-shareable constant 
    1. if object referenced by constant has FL_AUTOSHARE set (state A) 
       * [with ractor lock] 
          * if all objects recursively are still marked with FL_AUTOSHARE 
              * make_shareable (state C) 
          * else 
              * unset top objects's FL_AUTOSHARE (state B) 
    2. raise error if not shareable  

 ## Result 

 So in the case that these 2 things happen in parallel: 
 1) main ractor modifies content of constant X 
 2) non-main ractor accesses constant X 

 There are 2 possible outcomes: 
 a) main ractor error "can't modify frozen/shared object" 
 b) non-main ractor error "can not access non-shareable objects in constant X" 

 ## Benefits 

 In the normal case where non-frozen constants are left untouched after being assigned, this allows to skip a lot of `.freeze` or `Ractor.make_shareable` or `# shareable_constant_value: true` boilerplate. 

 When you get the error "can not access non-sharable objects in constant X by non-main Ractor", first you have to make that constant X shareable. Then this can trigger a secondary error that X is frozen, that you also have to debug. This way cuts the debugging in half by skipping directly to the FrozenError. 

 ## Downsides 

 When you get the error "can not access non-sharable objects in constant X by non-main Ractor" you may want to solve the issue by e.g. copying the constant X rather than freezing it. This way makes it slightly harder    to find where X is being accessed in the non-main ractor. 

 In the case of conflict, whether the error occurs in the main ractor or the non-main ractor can be non-deterministic. 

 ## Applicability 

 This probably applies as well to global variables, class variables, and class instance variables.