# Julia ASTs¶

Julia has two AST representations. First there is a surface syntax AST returned
by the parser (e.g. the `parse()`

function), and manipulated by macros.
It is a structured representation of code as it is written,
constructed by `julia-parser.scm`

from a character stream.
Next there is a lowered AST which is used by type inference and code generation.
In the lowered form, there are generally fewer types of nodes, all macros
are expanded, and all control flow is converted to explicit branches and sequences
of statements. The lowered form is constructed by `julia-syntax.scm`

.

First we will focus on the lowered form, since it is more important to the compiler. It is also less obvious to the human, since it results from a significant rearrangement of the input syntax.

## Lowered form¶

The following data types exist in lowered ASTs:

`Expr`

- has a node type indicated by the
`head`

field, and an`args`

field which is a`Vector{Any}`

of subexpressions. `Symbol`

- used to name local variables and static parameters within a function.
`LambdaStaticData`

- wraps the AST of each function, including inner functions.
`LineNumberNode`

- line number metadata
`LabelNode`

- branch target, a consecutively-numbered integer starting at 0
`GotoNode`

- unconditional branch
`QuoteNode`

- wraps an arbitrary value to reference as data. For example, the function
`f()=:a`

contains a`QuoteNode`

whose`value`

field is the symbol`a`

, in order to return the symbol itself instead of evaluating it. `GlobalRef`

- refers to global variable
`name`

in module`mod`

`TopNode`

- forces a name to be resolved as a global in Base. This is now mostly
redundant with
`GlobalRef(Base,:x)`

. `SymbolNode`

- used to annotate a local variable with a type
`GenSym`

- refers to a consecutively-numbered (starting at 0) static single assignment (SSA) variable inserted by the compiler.
`NewvarNode`

- marks a point where a closed variable needs to have a new box allocated.

### Expr types¶

These symbols appear in the `head`

field of `Expr`

s in lowered form.

`call`

- function call.
`args[1]`

is the function to call,`args[2:end]`

are the arguments. `line`

- line number and file name metadata. Unlike a
`LineNumberNode`

, can also contain a file name. `gotoifnot`

- conditional branch. If
`args[1]`

is false, goes to label identified in`args[2]`

. `=`

- assignment
`method`

adds a method to a generic function and assigns the result if necessary.

`args[1]`

- function name (symbol), or a`GlobalRef`

, or an`Expr`

with head`kw`

. In the`(kwf)`

case, the method is actually a keyword argument sorting function for`f`

. It will be stored instead in`generic_function->env->kwsorter`

.If

`method`

has only one argument, it corresponds to the form`functionfooend`

and only creates a function without adding any methods.`args[2]`

- a`SimpleVector`

of argument type data.`args[2][1]`

is a`Tupletype`

of the argument types, and`args[2][2]`

is a`SimpleVector`

of type variables corresponding to the method’s static parameters.`args[3]`

- a`LambdaStaticData`

of the method itself.`args[4]`

-`true`

or`false`

, identifying whether the method is staged (`@generatedfunction`

)`const`

- declares a (global) variable as constant
`null`

- has no arguments; simply yields the value
`nothing`

`static_typeof`

- a horrible misfeature used to determine the result type of array comprehensions. Planned to be removed.
`type_goto`

- a virtual control flow edge used to convey type data to
`static_typeof`

, also to be removed. `new`

- allocates a new struct-like object. First argument is the type. The
`new`

pseudo-function is lowered to this, and the type is always inserted by the compiler. This is very much an internal-only feature, and does no checking. Evaluating arbitrary`new`

expressions can easily segfault. `return`

- returns its argument as the value of the enclosing function.
`the_exception`

- yields the caught exception inside a
`catch`

block. This is the value of the run time system variable`jl_exception_in_transit`

. `enter`

- enters an exception handler (
`setjmp`

).`args[1]`

is the label of the catch block to jump to on error. `leave`

- pop exception handlers.
`args[1]`

is the number of handlers to pop. `boundscheck`

- controls turning bounds checks on or off. A stack is maintained; if the
first argument of this expression is true or false (
`true`

means bounds checks are enabled), it is pushed onto the stack. If the first argument is`:pop`

, the stack is popped. `copyast`

- part of the implementation of quasi-quote. The argument is a surface syntax AST that is simply copied recursively and returned at run time.
`meta`

- metadata. Currently used for inlining hints, represented by the symbols
`:inline`

and`:noinline`

.

### LambdaStaticData¶

Has an `->ast`

field pointing to an `Expr`

with head `lambda`

. This
`Expr`

has the following layout:

`args[1]`

`Vector{Any}`

of argument name symbols. For varargs functions, the last element is actually an`Expr`

with head`...`

. The argument of this`Expr`

is an`Expr`

with head`::`

. The first argument of`::`

is a symbol (the argument name), and the second argument is a type declaration.`args[2]`

A

`Vector{Any}`

with variable information:`args[2][1]`

- An array of 3-element`varinfo`

arrays, one for each argument or local variable. A`varinfo`

array has the form`Any[:name,type,bits]`

. The`bits`

field is an integer describing variable properties as follows: - 1 - captured (closed over) - 2 - assigned (only false if there are*no*assignment statements with this var on the left) - 4 - assigned by an inner function - 8 - const (currently unused for local variables) - 16 - statically assigned once - 32 - might be used before assigned. This flag is only valid after type inference.`args[2][2]`

- An array of`varinfo`

triples for each outer variable this function captures.`args[2][3]`

- The types of variables represented by`GenSym`

objects. Given`GenSym`

`g`

, its type will be at`args[2][3][g.id+1]`

.`args[2][4]`

- The names (symbols) of static parameters.`args[3]`

- an
`Expr`

with head`body`

whose arguments are the statements comprising the function body.

## Surface syntax AST¶

Front end ASTs consist entirely of `Expr`

s and atoms (e.g. symbols, numbers).
There is generally a different expression head for each visually distinct
syntactic form.
Examples will be given in s-expression syntax. Each parenthesized list corresponds
to an Expr, where the first element is the head.
For example `(callfx)`

corresponds to `Expr(:call,:f,:x)`

in Julia.

### Calls¶

Input | AST |
---|---|

f(x) | (call f x) |

f(x, y=1, z=2) | (call f x (kw y 1) (kw z 2)) |

f(x; y=1) | (call f (parameters (kw y 1)) x) |

f(x...) | (call f (... x)) |

`Do`

syntax:

`f(x)doa,bbodyend`

parses as `(callf(->(tupleab)(blockbody))x)`

.

### Operators¶

Most uses of operators are just function calls, so they are parsed with the
head `call`

.
However some operators are special forms (not necessarily function calls),
and in those cases the operator itself is the expression head.
In julia-parser.scm these are referred to as “syntactic operators”.
Some operators (`+`

and `*`

) use N-ary parsing; chained calls are parsed as
a single N-argument call.
Finally, chains of comparisons have their own special expression structure.

Input | AST |
---|---|

x+y | (call + x y) |

a+b+c+d | (call + a b c d) |

2x | (call * 2 x) |

a&&b | (&& a b) |

x += 1 | (+= x 1) |

a ? 1 : 2 | (if a 1 2) |

a:b | (: a b) |

a:b:c | (: a b c) |

a,b | (tuple a b) |

a==b | (comparison a == b) |

1<i<=n | (comparison 1 < i <= n) |

a.b | (. a (quote b)) |

a.(b) | (. a b) |

### Bracketed forms¶

Input | AST |
---|---|

a[i] | (ref a i) |

t[i;j] | (typed_vcat t i j) |

t[i j] | (typed_hcat t i j) |

t[a b; c d] | (typed_vcat t (row a b) (row c d)) |

a{b} | (curly a b) |

a{b;c} | (curly a (parameters c) b) |

[x] | (vect x) |

[x,y] | (vect x y) |

[x;y] | (vcat x y) |

[x y] | (hcat x y) |

[x y; z t] | (vcat (row x y) (row z t)) |

[x for y in z, a in b] | (comprehension x (= y z) (= a b)) |

T[x for y in z] | (typed_comprehension T x (= y z)) |

[a=>b for x in y] | (dict_comprehension (=> a b) (= x y)) |

(k=>v)[a=>b for x in y] | (typed_dict_comprehension (=> k v) (=> a b) (= x y)) |

(a, b, c) | (tuple a b c) |

(a; b; c) | (block a (block b c)) |

### Macros¶

Input | AST |
---|---|

@m x y | (macrocall @m x y) |

Base.@m x y | (macrocall (. Base (quote @m)) x y) |

@Base.m x y | (macrocall (. Base (quote @m)) x y) |

### Strings¶

Input | AST |
---|---|

“a” | “a” |

x”y” | (macrocall @x_str “y”) |

x”y”z | (macrocall @x_str “y” “z”) |

“x = $x” | (string “x = ” x) |

`a b c` | (macrocall @cmd “a b c”) |

x ~ distr | (macrocall @~ x distr) |

Doc string syntax:

`"some docs"f(x)=x`

parses as `(macrocall(|.|Base'@doc)"somedocs"(=(callfx)(blockx)))`

### Imports and such¶

Input | AST |
---|---|

import a | (import a) |

import a.b.c | (import a b c) |

import ...a | (import . . . a) |

import a.b, c.d | (toplevel (import a b) (import c d)) |

import Base: x | (import Base x) |

import Base: x, y | (toplevel (import Base x) (import Base y)) |

export a, b | (export a b) |

### Numbers¶

Julia supports more number types than many scheme implementations, so not all numbers are represented directly as scheme numbers in the AST.

Input | AST |
---|---|

11111111111111111111 | (macrocall @int128_str “11111111111111111111”) |

0xfffffffffffffffff | (macrocall @uint128_str “0xfffffffffffffffff”) |

1111...many digits... | (macrocall @big_str “1111....”) |

### Block forms¶

A block of statements is parsed as `(blockstmt1stmt2...)`

.

If statement:

`ifabelseifcdelseefend`

parses as:

`(ifa(block(line2)b)(block(line3)(ifc(block(line4)d)(block(line5)e(line6)f))))`

A `while`

loop parses as `(whileconditionbody)`

.

A `for`

loop parses as `(for(=variter)body)`

.
If there is more than one iteration specification, they are parsed as a block:
`(for(block(=v1iter1)(=v2iter2))body)`

.

`break`

and `continue`

are parsed as 0-argument expressions
`(break)`

and `(continue)`

.

`let`

is parsed as `(letbody(=var1val1)(=var2val2)...)`

.

A basic function definition is parsed as `(function(callfx)body)`

.
A more complex example:

`function f{T}(x::T;k=1)returnx+1end`

parses as:

`(function(call(curlyfT)(parameters(kwk1))(::xT))(block(line2file.jl)(return(call+x1))))`

Type definition:

`type Foo{T<:S}x::Tend`

parses as:

```
(type #t (curly Foo (<: T S))
(block (line 2 none) (:: x T)))
```

The first argument is a boolean telling whether the type is mutable.

`try`

blocks parse as `(trytry_blockvarcatch_blockfinally_block)`

.
If no variable is present after `catch`

, `var`

is `#f`

.
If there is no `finally`

clause, then the last argument is not present.