[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ]

2. Primitive Object Types

.setq predicate-chapter chapter-number .setq object-chapter chapter-number

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ]

2.1 "Data Types"

This section enumerates some of the various different primitive types of objects in Zetalisp. The types explained below include symbols, conses, various types of numbers, two kinds of compiled code objects, locatives, arrays, stack groups, and closures. With each is given the associated symbolic name, which is returned by the function data-type ((data-type-fun)).

A symbol (these are sometimes called "atoms" or "atomic symbols" by other texts) has a print name, a binding, a definition, a property list, and a package.

The print name is a string, which may be obtained by the function get-pname ((get-pname-fun)). This string serves as the printed representation (see (printer)) of the symbol. Each symbol has a binding (sometimes also called the "value"), which may be any Lisp object. It is also referred to sometimes as the "contents of the value cell", since internally every symbol has a cell called the value cell which holds the binding. It is accessed by the symeval function ((symeval-fun)), and updated by the set function ((set-fun)). (That is, given a symbol, you use symeval to find out what its binding is, and use set to change its binding.) Each symbol has a definition, which may also be any Lisp object. It is also referred to as the "contents of the function cell", since internally every symbol has a cell called the function cell which holds the definition. The definition can be accessed by the fsymeval function ((fsymeval-fun)), and updated with fset ((fset-fun)), although usually the functions fdefinition and fdefine are employed ((fdefine-fun)). The property list is a list of an even number of elements; it can be accessed directly by plist ((plist-fun)), and updated directly by setplist ((setplist-fun)), although usually the functions get, putprop, and remprop ((get-fun)) are used. The property list is used to associate any number of additional attributes with a symbol--attributes not used frequently enough to deserve their own cells as the value and definition do. Symbols also have a package cell, which indicates which "package" of names the symbol belongs to. This is explained further in the section on packages (chapter (package-chapter)) and can be disregarded by the casual user.

The primitive function for creating symbols is make-symbol ((make-symbol-fun)), although most symbols are created by read, intern, or fasload (which call make-symbol themselves.)

A cons is an object that cares about two other objects, arbitrarily named the car and the cdr. These objects can be accessed with car and cdr ((car-fun)), and updated with rplaca and rplacd ((rplaca-fun)). The primitive function for creating conses is cons ((cons-fun)).

There are several kinds of numbers in Zetalisp. Fixnums represent integers in the range of -2^23 to 2^23-1. Bignums represent integers of arbitrary size, but they are more expensive to use than fixnums because they occupy storage and are slower. The system automatically converts between fixnums and bignums as required. Flonums are floating-point numbers. Small-flonums are another kind of floating-point numbers, with less range and precision, but less computational overhead. Other types of numbers are likely to be added in the future. See (number) for full details of these types and the conversions between them.

The usual form of compiled, executable code is a Lisp object called a "Function Entry Frame" or "FEF". A FEF contains the code for one function. This is analogous to what Maclisp calls a "subr pointer". FEFs are produced by the Lisp Compiler ((compiler)), and are usually found as the definitions of symbols. The printed representation of a FEF includes its name, so that it can be identified. Another Lisp object which represents executable code is a "micro-code entry". These are the microcoded primitive functions of the Lisp system, and user functions compiled into microcode.

About the only useful thing to do with any of these compiled code objects is to apply it to arguments. However, some functions are provided for examining such objects, for user convenience. See arglist ((arglist-fun)), args-info ((args-info-fun)), describe ((describe-fun)), and disassemble ((disassemble-fun)).

A locative (see (locative)) is a kind of a pointer to a single memory cell anywhere in the system. The contents of this cell can be accessed by cdr (see (cdr-fun)) and updated by rplacd (see (rplacd-fun)).

An array (see (array)) is a set of cells indexed by a tuple of integer subscripts. The contents of the cells may be accessed and changed individually. There are several types of arrays. Some have cells which may contain any object, while others (numeric arrays) may only contain small positive numbers. Strings are a type of array; the elements are 8-bit unsigned numbers which encode characters.

A list is not a primitive data type, but rather a data structure made up out of conses and the symbol nil. See (list-and-tree).

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ]

2.2 Predicates

A predicate is a function which tests for some condition involving its arguments and returns the symbol t if the condition is true, or the symbol nil if it is not true. Most of the following predicates are for testing what data type an object has; some other general-purpose predicates are also explained.

By convention, the names of predicates usually end in the letter "p" (which stands for "predicate").

The following predicates are for testing data types. These predicates return t if the argument is of the type indicated by the name of the function, nil if it is of some other type.

Function: symbolp arg
symbolp returns t if its argument is a symbol, otherwise nil.

Function: nsymbolp arg
nsymbolp returns nil if its argument is a symbol, otherwise t.

Function: listp arg
listp returns t if its argument is a cons, otherwise nil. Note that this means (listp nil) is nil even though nil is the empty list. [This may be changed in the future.]

Function: nlistp arg
nlistp returns t if its argument is anything besides a cons, otherwise nil. nlistp is identical to atom, and so (nlistp nil) returns t. [This may be changed in the future, if and when listp is changed.]

Function: atom arg
The predicate atom returns t if its argument is not a cons, otherwise nil.

Function: numberp arg
numberp returns t if its argument is any kind of number, otherwise nil.

Function: fixp arg
fixp returns t if its argument is a fixed-point number, i.e. a fixnum or a bignum, otherwise nil.

Function: floatp arg
floatp returns t if its argument is a floating-point number, i.e. a flonum or a small flonum, otherwise nil.

Function: fixnump arg
fixnump returns t if its argument is a fixnum, otherwise nil.

Function: bigp arg
bigp returns t if arg is a bignum, otherwise nil.

Function: flonump arg
flonump returns t if arg is a (large) flonum, otherwise nil.

Function: small-floatp arg
small-floatp returns t if arg is a small flonum, otherwise nil.

Function: stringp arg
stringp returns t if its argument is a string, otherwise nil.

Function: arrayp arg
arrayp returns t if its argument is an array, otherwise nil. Note that strings are arrays.

Function: functionp arg &optional allow-special-forms
functionp returns t if its argument is a function (essentially, something that is acceptable as the first argument to apply), otherwise it returns nil. In addition to interpreted, compiled, and microcoded functions, functionp is true of closures, select-methods (see (select-method)), and symbols whose function definition is functionp. functionp is not true of objects which can be called as functions but are not normally thought of as functions: arrays, stack groups, entities, and instances. If allow-special-forms is specified and non-nil, then functionp will be true of macros and special-form functions (those with quoted arguments). Normally functionp returns nil for these since they do not behave like functions. As a special case, functionp of a symbol whose function definition is an array returns t, because in this case the array is being used as a function rather than as an object.

Function: subrp arg
subrp returns t if its argument is any compiled code object, otherwise nil. The Lisp Machine system doesn't use the term "subr", but the name of this function comes from Maclisp.

Function: closurep arg
closurep returns t if its argument is a closure, otherwise nil.

Function: entityp arg
entityp returns t if its argument is an entity, otherwise nil. See (entity) for information about "entities".

Function: locativep arg
locativep returns t if its argument is a locative, otherwise nil.

Function: typep arg &optional type
typep is really two different functions. With one argument, typep is not really a predicate; it returns a symbol describing the type of its argument. With two arguments, typep is a predicate which returns t if arg is of type type, and nil otherwise. Note that an object can be "of" more than one type, since one type can be a subset of another.

The symbols that can be returned by typep of one argument are:

arg is a symbol.
arg is a fixnum (not a bignum).
arg is a bignum.
arg is a flonum (not a small-flonum).
arg is a small flonum.
arg is a cons.
arg is a locative pointer (see (locative)).
arg is the machine code for a compiled function (sometimes called a FEF).
arg is a function written in microcode.
arg is a closure (see (closure)).
arg is a select-method table (see (select-method)).
arg is a stack-group (see (stack-group)).
arg is a string.
arg is an array that is not a string.
Returned for any built-in data type that does not fit into one of the above categories.
An object of user-defined data type foo (any symbol). The primitive type of the object could be array, instance, or entity. See Named Structures, (named-structure), and Flavors, (flavor).

The type argument to typep of two arguments can be any of the above keyword symbols (except for :random), the name of a user-defined data type (either a named structure or a flavor), or one of the following additional symbols:

Any atom (as determined by the atom predicate).
Any kind of fixed-point number (fixnum or bignum).
Any kind of floating-point number (flonum or small-flonum).
Any kind of number.
An instance of any flavor. See (flavor).
An entity. typep of one argument returns the name of the particular user-defined type of the entity, rather than :entity.

See also data-type, (data-type-fun).

Note that (typep nil) => :symbol, and (typep nil ':list) => nil; the latter may be changed.

The following functions are some other general purpose predicates.

Function: eq x y
(eq x y) => t if and only if x and y are the same object. It should be noted that things that print the same are not necessarily eq to each other. In particular, numbers with the same value need not be eq, and two similar lists are usually not eq.
(eq 'a 'b) => nil
(eq 'a 'a) => t
(eq (cons 'a 'b) (cons 'a 'b)) => nil
(setq x (cons 'a 'b)) (eq x x) => t
Note that in Zetalisp equal fixnums are eq; this is not true in Maclisp. Equality does not imply eq-ness for other types of numbers. To compare numbers, use =; see (=-fun).

Function: neq x y
(neq x y) = (not (eq x y)). This is provided simply as an abbreviation for typing convenience.

Function: equal x y
The equal predicate returns t if its arguments are similar (isomorphic) objects. (cf. eq) Two numbers are equal if they have the same value and type (for example, a flonum is never equal to a fixnum, even if = is true of them). For conses, equal is defined recursively as the two car's being equal and the two cdr's being equal. Two strings are equal if they have the same length, and the characters composing them are the same; see string-equal, (string-equal-fun). Alphabetic case is ignored (but see alphabetic-case-affects-string-comparison, (alphabetic-case-affects-string-comparison-var)). All other objects are equal if and only if they are eq. Thus equal could have been defined by:
(defun equal (x y)
  (cond ((eq x y) t)
	((neq (typep x) (typep y)) nil)
	((numberp x) (= x y))
	((stringp x) (string-equal x y))
	((listp x) (and (equal (car x) (car y))
			(equal (cdr x) (cdr y))))))

As a consequence of the above definition, it can be seen that equal may compute forever when applied to looped list structure. In addition, eq always implies equal; that is, if (eq a b) then (equal a b). An intuitive definition of equal (which is not quite correct) is that two objects are equal if they look the same when printed out. For example:
(setq a '(1 2 3))
(setq b '(1 2 3))
(eq a b) => nil
(equal a b) => t
(equal "Foo" "foo") => t

Function: not x
Function: null x
not returns t if x is nil, else nil. null is the same as not; both functions are included for the sake of clarity. Use null to check whether something is nil; use not to invert the sense of a logical value. Even though Lisp uses the symbol nil to represent falseness, you shouldn't make understanding of your program depend on this fortuitously. For example, one often writes:
(cond ((not (null lst)) ... )
      ( ... ))
rather than
(cond (lst ... )
      ( ... ))
There is no loss of efficiency, since these will compile into exactly the same instructions.

[ << ] [ >> ]           [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ]

This document was generated by Brad Parker on June, 13 2006 using texi2html