On the immiscibility of higher order functions and unboxed invocation in Clojure

February 17th, 2012

Recently, Tim McIver and I set out to bring clojure.contrib.import-static into the modern world. This is lib that looks on the surface to be quite handy: (import-static java.lang.Math sqrt PI) allows you to write (sqrt PI) instead of (Math/sqrt Math/PI). The huge downside is that sqrt is a macro, so it can't be passed around as in (map sqrt (range 10)). (This does allow (with appropriate hinting) primitive invocation (non-boxed passing of primitive JVM types such as long and double) and reflection at compile-time instead of runtime.) Our idea was to replace import-static with def-statics, a macro that could produce prim-invocable functions instead of macros.

Summary: You can't actually do that. HOFs in a dynamically-typed language are not compatible with unboxed primitive invocation.

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LoadForCompile: Help for in-browser compilers

August 13th, 2009

As javascript engines increase in speed and efficiency, it is becoming feasible to write compilers and interpreters in javascript to allow webpages to run alternative programming languages not normally supported by browsers. See processing.js, for instance: A graphics library that runs a Java-like language in the browser.

An initial hurdle facing developers of these toolkits is the problem of loading source code. Javascript is loaded and executed natively in the browser environment, and it would be nice to load alternative language sources in a similar manner. So, today I wrote a library to do that.

The library, called LoadForCompile, is invoked with a MIME type and a callback. It searches the DOM for script elements with the given MIME type, loads their sources, and passes them to the callback. There is a very simple demo page with a "compiler" that displays whatever source code it is provided. Following is the documentation for the library.


LoadForCompile will retrieve alternate-language source code and pass it (in order) to onLoad. Any sources that cannot be retrieved will be ignored by default.

If the onFinish argument is provided, it will be called when all sources have been loaded and passed.

If the onError argument is provided, it will be called with (src, k), where src is the offending URL and k is a continuation of the loading process, so the relying client may continue or entirely halt the loading process by calling k or not calling it, respectively.


  1. Place script elements in your HTML document with desired MIME type.
  2. Each script element may have a src attribute, an inline body between the opening and closing tags, or both. The body is guaranteed to be called immediately after the associated remote source, or not at all.
  3. Finally, call LoadForCompile with the MIME type and callbacks.


LoadForCompile searches the DOM for any script nodes bearing the target MIME type. For each one, it records the src attribute and the contents of the text node, if any. It is an error to have non-text elements as children of the script node, and in such a situation the behavior of this library is unspecified.

The library uses asynchronous requests to load any remote resources specified by src attributes. This loading occurs in an unspecified order. If any remote source fails to load, the library will mark that source (and any associated inline body) as invalid. If onError is provided, it will be called with a continuation function that will resume progress. (If the continuation is not called, no additional callbacks will be made.)

Note that if onError is provided and does not call the continuation, onFinish will not be called.


The library is in version 0.2 and is licensed under the LGPL.