[Rd] generics for primitive functions
Parlamis Franklin
fparlamis at mac.com
Sat Sep 23 20:44:50 CEST 2006
Yes, I figured I might have entered the forbidden zone (one hint was
that I had to set the group method to achieve my goal -- an attempt
to directly set a method for the 'sqrt' function was frustrated in
the manner you suggest). I have two followup questions and a request:
(i) Should I expect that the fix will be to seal group methods for
groups that contain primitive functions and signatures comprising
only basic data types, or that group methods will remain unsealed
(and thus still work as desired for non-primitive underliers) and
some other block applied?
(ii) In "How Methods Work" (pg. 8), you write: "So long as
computations access the generic function through getGeneric(), most
computations should be unaffected." I took this as a suggestion that
calls like getGeneric("sqrt")(4) were the suggested way to operate
with primitives under S4. What does it really mean?
Now the request (with some explanation). I am not really interested
in redefining primitives for class 'numeric.' What I really want to
do is define working non-primitive variants of primitives for class
'expression'. I have already done this for a class 'Expression'
which contains 'expression' as you suggest, but I have been somewhat
frustrated to go through the formality of dealing with a "custom"
class for this purpose (as it adds unnecessary bulk and coercion to
my code). Since AFAIK none of the primitives in the 'Ops' or 'Math'
groups work for objects of class 'expression' anyway, I don't see
what purity we are retaining by sealing the methods on these
functions for signatures comprising only objects of class 'expression'.
I'd like to request (as a feature change) that these methods be
unsealed for signatures comprising only objects of class
'expression'. More broadly, I think it would be nice to unseal
methods for primitive functions on all signatures for which the
primitive would produce an error. Sealing things that don't work is
slightly cruel. Perhaps a 'sealedPrimitives' option that the
efficiency guys could check and freaks like me (who want to make 2+2
= 3) could uncheck would be the simplest solution. Of course I make
this request humbly -- I have no idea what might be the cost in code
of the discrimination I am requesting.
Franklin
On Sep 23, 2006, at 3:35 AM, John Chambers wrote:
> Probably a bug, but not at all the one you imply. You have found a
> way to subvert a guarantee in R that methods for primitives can
> never be redefined for basic data types.
>
> As you no doubt found, but didn't show us, so long as you say sqrt
> (4) the result is correct. (Your "Works" should really read
> "Gotcha!").
>
> Since a large amount of effort and not a little programming pain
> has been spent retaining the purity of primitive calls to satisfy
> the efficiency lobby, it's not clear what should happen when one
> insists on calling the generic function directly. Either an error
> or just a call to the primitive would be the two likely
> candidates. Not what happens in your first example though.
>
> If you really want a "numeric" class that does something different
> for sqrt(), define an S4 class that contains "numeric"
> > setClass("WeirdNumber", contains="numeric")
> [1] "WeirdNumber"
> > setMethod("Math", "WeirdNumber", function(x) "Weird")
> [1] "Math"
> > xx = new("WeirdNumber", 1:10)
> > sqrt(xx)
> [1] "Weird"
>
>
> Parlamis Franklin wrote:
>> i think these two code snippets exhibit a bug. they are
>> identical but for the inclusion of an initial line in snippet [2]
>>
>> [1]
>> setMethod("Math", signature(x = "numeric"), function(x) "Works")
>> getGeneric("sqrt")(4)
>>
>> [2]
>> getGeneric("sqrt")(4)
>> setMethod("Math", signature(x = "numeric"), function(x) "Works")
>> getGeneric("sqrt")(4)
>>
>> these are my results, when each is run from a fresh R session
>>
>> [1]
>> > setMethod("Math", signature(x = "numeric"), function(x) "Works")
>> [1] "Math"
>> > getGeneric("sqrt")(4)
>> [1] "Works"
>>
>> [2]
>> > getGeneric("sqrt")(4)
>> `__Deferred_Default_Marker__`
>> > setMethod("Math", signature(x = "numeric"), function(x) "Works")
>> [1] "Math"
>> > getGeneric("sqrt")(4)
>> `__Deferred_Default_Marker__`
>>
>> the section in "How Methods Work" that deals with this is
>> unfinished, but i think it suggests that getGeneric("sqrt")(4)
>> should work out of the box.
>>
>> franklin parlamis
>>
>> > version
>> _
>> platform powerpc-apple-darwin8.7.0
>> arch powerpc
>> os darwin8.7.0
>> system powerpc, darwin8.7.0
>> status beta
>> major 2
>> minor 4.0
>> year 2006
>> month 09
>> day 22
>> svn rev 39471
>> language R
>> version.string R version 2.4.0 beta (2006-09-22 r39471)
>>
>> ______________________________________________
>> R-devel at r-project.org mailing list
>> https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-devel
>>
>>
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