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7.5 tsort: Topological sort

tsort performs a topological sort on the given file, or standard input if no input file is given or for a file of ‘-’. For more details and some history, see tsort: Background. Synopsis:

 
tsort [option] [file]

tsort reads its input as pairs of strings, separated by blanks, indicating a partial ordering. The output is a total ordering that corresponds to the given partial ordering.

For example

 
tsort <<EOF
a b c
d
e f
b c d e
EOF

will produce the output

 
a
b
c
d
e
f

Consider a more realistic example. You have a large set of functions all in one file, and they may all be declared static except one. Currently that one (say main) is the first function defined in the file, and the ones it calls directly follow it, followed by those they call, etc. Let's say that you are determined to take advantage of prototypes, so you have to choose between declaring all of those functions (which means duplicating a lot of information from the definitions) and rearranging the functions so that as many as possible are defined before they are used. One way to automate the latter process is to get a list for each function of the functions it calls directly. Many programs can generate such lists. They describe a call graph. Consider the following list, in which a given line indicates that the function on the left calls the one on the right directly.

 
main parse_options
main tail_file
main tail_forever
tail_file pretty_name
tail_file write_header
tail_file tail
tail_forever recheck
tail_forever pretty_name
tail_forever write_header
tail_forever dump_remainder
tail tail_lines
tail tail_bytes
tail_lines start_lines
tail_lines dump_remainder
tail_lines file_lines
tail_lines pipe_lines
tail_bytes xlseek
tail_bytes start_bytes
tail_bytes dump_remainder
tail_bytes pipe_bytes
file_lines dump_remainder
recheck pretty_name

then you can use tsort to produce an ordering of those functions that satisfies your requirement.

 
example$ tsort call-graph | tac
dump_remainder
start_lines
file_lines
pipe_lines
xlseek
start_bytes
pipe_bytes
tail_lines
tail_bytes
pretty_name
write_header
tail
recheck
parse_options
tail_file
tail_forever
main

tsort detects any cycles in the input and writes the first cycle encountered to standard error.

Note that for a given partial ordering, generally there is no unique total ordering. In the context of the call graph above, the function parse_options may be placed anywhere in the list as long as it precedes main.

The only options are ‘--help’ and ‘--version’. See section Common options.


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