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- Subject: Re: Lua's GC in interactive applications (games)... feedback appreciated!
- From: "Jonathan Branam" <sspeare@...>
- Date: Mon, 28 May 2001 23:31:17 -0700
John Belmonte has a page about this, as well as a reference paper.
I've discovered that values on the stack will cause some issues with my
current implementation plans. Most of the time, the stack is popped
simply by changing the pointer to the top. This would have to be changed
for my refcount implementation to work. I believe there will probably
be other places where references to values are removed without
checks, so I'll have to track those down. Also, some C functions may
do this as well.
The reference paper about does a search over memory over time.
This seems good, but has lots of implications. It also seems to require
knowledge of when an object takes a reference to another object, so
that is something that will be needed for my method, and theirs.
The other major problem with a simple refcount system is that
cyclic references are never removed. In my case, this should be
fairly rare. But it brings up a good point. I think if I change anything,
I will attempt to leave the ability to run the current Lua GC as a
debugging aid. This will help to find out if I've missed any data.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Jonathan Branam" <email@example.com>
To: "Multiple recipients of list" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Sunday, May 27, 2001 7:55 PM
Subject: Lua's GC in interactive applications (games)... feedback
> I've been looking at Lua for a while now, and I think it is an excellent
> embedded language. My interest is in using it as a scripting language for
> apps, mainly games. I need something that will work as a configuration or
> data description language, and also something for scripting events and
> Lua is excellent at both of these things. [Any information or tips from
> others on this would be welcome as well!]
> The only real problem that I have had is with Lua's Garbage Collection. It
> seems to cause a pretty large hitch when it runs, and this isn't really
> acceptable. It is also largely unpredictable as to when it will run
> (although I understand that I can control this more).
> I am trying to get some feedback on a number of work-arounds that I am
> 1) I could run the GC manually, and have it take a set amount of time.
> way I could run it every couple seconds or so, but not let it take too
> I can use the built-in feedback to find out if I need to run it more
> 2) Avoid operations which cause orphans. The main problem here is that of
> userdata. I added new types for Vectors, Rotations, Color, and other types
> that are needed. But many operations on them don't alter the existing
> but rather create new data. This is something that may be related to my
> of Lua, so any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. One thought I
> was to create += type functions, this will stop some unneccesary orphans
> (eg: vec = vec + 1 orphans the old value of vec. But vec:add(1) would
> However, this will not fix more complicated expressions: vec = p0 + (t *
> 3) Extend Lua so that my new types are "built-in" such as the Number type.
> As far as I can tell, the Number type never impacts GC. It looks like most
> of my types can fit into the Value union without adding extra space
> overhead. This seems like an attractive option, but I am still not sure
> difficult this change will be. There are only 37 references to
> so it seems not too difficult. TObject is used 82 times. My concern is
> this won't really fix my problems, just make them much more infrequent
> (which is still good).
> 4) Extend Lua's GC to be use more "active" ref counting. I'm not exactly
> sure of the term for this, but basically what I mean is that whenever an
> operation takes a reference to something, it increments the refcount, and
> when it releases a reference, it decrements the refcount. And every time
> refcount is decremented, if it reaches zero, the object (or value) is
> collected immediately. This also does not seem incredibly difficult, but
> sure it would take me a while and that I wouldn't catch all the errors for
> while. This seems like it would be generally useful to others as well, so
> might favor it if others are interested.
> Currently, #4 (active ref counting) seems the most attractive to me, but
> time required to do it is questionable. I have been experimenting with Lua
> for a while, but only recently started looking at the implementation. It
> impressively simple and compact, but I am worried about small changes
> impacting the whole system (due to my inexperience).
> Well, that's enough for now. Thanks for your time. I am very happy to
> provide more information and examples if what I've said isn't clear (or to
> determine if I'm off my rocker).