Module rustc_passes::liveness

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A classic liveness analysis based on dataflow over the AST. Computes, for each local variable in a function, whether that variable is live at a given point. Program execution points are identified by their IDs.

§Basic idea

The basic model is that each local variable is assigned an index. We represent sets of local variables using a vector indexed by this index. The value in the vector is either 0, indicating the variable is dead, or the ID of an expression that uses the variable.

We conceptually walk over the AST in reverse execution order. If we find a use of a variable, we add it to the set of live variables. If we find an assignment to a variable, we remove it from the set of live variables. When we have to merge two flows, we take the union of those two flows – if the variable is live on both paths, we simply pick one ID. In the event of loops, we continue doing this until a fixed point is reached.

§Checking initialization

At the function entry point, all variables must be dead. If this is not the case, we can report an error using the ID found in the set of live variables, which identifies a use of the variable which is not dominated by an assignment.

§Checking moves

After each explicit move, the variable must be dead.

§Computing last uses

Any use of the variable where the variable is dead afterwards is a last use.

§Implementation details

The actual implementation contains two (nested) walks over the AST. The outer walk has the job of building up the ir_maps instance for the enclosing function. On the way down the tree, it identifies those AST nodes and variable IDs that will be needed for the liveness analysis and assigns them contiguous IDs. The liveness ID for an AST node is called a live_node (it’s a newtype’d u32) and the ID for a variable is called a variable (another newtype’d u32).

On the way back up the tree, as we are about to exit from a function declaration we allocate a liveness instance. Now that we know precisely how many nodes and variables we need, we can allocate all the various arrays that we will need to precisely the right size. We then perform the actual propagation on the liveness instance.

This propagation is encoded in the various propagate_through_*() methods. It effectively does a reverse walk of the AST; whenever we reach a loop node, we iterate until a fixed point is reached.

§The RWU struct

At each live node N, we track three pieces of information for each variable V (these are encapsulated in the RWU struct):

  • reader: the LiveNode ID of some node which will read the value that V holds on entry to N. Formally: a node M such that there exists a path P from N to M where P does not write V. If the reader is None, then the current value will never be read (the variable is dead, essentially).

  • writer: the LiveNode ID of some node which will write the variable V and which is reachable from N. Formally: a node M such that there exists a path P from N to M and M writes V. If the writer is None, then there is no writer of V that follows N.

  • used: a boolean value indicating whether V is used. We distinguish a read from a use in that a use is some read that is not just used to generate a new value. For example, x += 1 is a read but not a use. This is used to generate better warnings.

§Special nodes and variables

We generate various special nodes for various, well, special purposes. These are described in the Liveness struct.