[Rd] Internal error in 'ls' for pathological environments (PR#14036)

ggrothendieck at gmail.com ggrothendieck at gmail.com
Sun Nov 1 13:25:09 CET 2009

On Sun, Nov 1, 2009 at 6:02 AM, Peter Dalgaard <p.dalgaard at biostat.ku.dk> w=
> macrakis at alum.mit.edu wrote:
>> nchar(with(list(2),ls())) gives an internal error. This is of course
>> a peculiar call (no names in the list), but the error is not caught
>> cleanly.
>> It is not clear from the documentation whether with(list(2)...) is
>> allowable; if it is not, it should presumably give an error. If it is,
>> then
>> ls
>> shouldn't have problems with the resulting environment.
>>> qq <- with(list(2),ls()) =A0 =A0 =A0 =A0 =A0 =A0 =A0 =A0 =A0 =A0 =A0 =
=A0 # An incorrect call (no
>> names in list)
>>> nchar(qq)
>> Error in nchar(qq) : 'getEncChar' must be called on a CHARSXP =A0# ls
>> returned
>> a bad object
>>> qq
>> [1]Error: 'getEncChar' must be called on a CHARSXP
>>> qq[1]
>> [1]Error: 'getEncChar' must be called on a CHARSXP
>>> qq[2]
>> [1] NA
>> Apparently related:
>>> with(list(a=3D1,2),ls())
>> Error in ls() : 'getEncChar' must be called on a CHARSXP
> Thanks, yes, this looks wrong.
> Also, closer to the root cause:
>> eval(quote(ls()),list(a=3D1,2))
> Error in ls() : 'getEncChar' must be called on a CHARSXP
>> e <- evalq(environment(),list(2))
>> ls(e)
> [1]Error: 'getEncChar' must be called on a CHARSXP
> It is not quite clear that it should be allowed to have unnamed elements =
> lists used by eval (which is what with() uses internally). I suppose it
> should, since the intended semantics are unaffected in most cases. (I.e.,
> there is nothing really wrong with eval(quote(a+b), list(a=3D1,b=3D2,3,4)=
), and
> people may have been using such code unwittingly all over.)
> However, it IS a bug that we are creating ill-formed environments. The
> culprit seems to be that NewEnvironment (memory.c) is getting called in
> violation of its assumption that
> " This definition allows
> =A0the namelist argument to be shorter than the valuelist; in this
> =A0case the remaining values must be named already. =A0(This is useful
> =A0in cases where the entire valuelist is already named--namelist can
> =A0then be R_NilValue.)
> "
> Removing the assumption from NewEnvironment looks like an efficiency sink=
> so I would suggest that we fix do_eval (eval.c) instead, effectively doin=
g l
> <- l[names(l) !=3D ""]. =A0So in
> =A0 =A0case LISTSXP:
> =A0 =A0 =A0 =A0env =3D NewEnvironment(R_NilValue, duplicate(CADR(args)), =
> =A0 =A0 =A0 =A0PROTECT(env);
> =A0 =A0 =A0 =A0break;
> we need to replace the duplicate() call with something that skips the
> unnamed elements.
> The only side effect I can see from such a change is the resulting
> environments get a different length() than before. I'd say that if there =
> coder who actually rely on the length of an invalid environment, then the=
> deserve what they'd get...

Why not go one further -- and have R crash That would really show them.

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