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11.7.4 Overloading and Autoloading

The dispatch function can be used to alias one function name to another. It can be used to alias all calls to a particular function name to another function, or the alias can be limited to only a particular variable type. Consider the example

function y = spsin (x)
  printf ("Calling spsin\n");
  y = spfun ("sin", x);

dispatch ("sin", "spsin", "sparse matrix");
y0 = sin(eye(3));
y1 = sin(speye(3));

which aliases the user-defined function spsin to sin, but only for real sparse matrices. Note that the builtin sin already correctly treats sparse matrices and so this example is only illustrative.

Loadable Function: dispatch (f, r, type)

Replace the function f with a dispatch so that function r is called when f is called with the first argument of the named type. If the type is any then call r if no other type matches. The original function f is accessible using builtin (f, …).

If r is omitted, clear dispatch function associated with type.

If both r and type are omitted, list dispatch functions for f.

See also: builtin.

Loadable Function: […] builtin (f, …)

Call the base function f even if f is overloaded to some other function for the given type signature.

See also: dispatch.

A single dynamically linked file might define several functions. However, as Octave searches for functions based on the functions filename, Octave needs a manner in which to find each of the functions in the dynamically linked file. On operating systems that support symbolic links, it is possible to create a symbolic link to the original file for each of the functions which it contains.

However, there is at least one well known operating system that doesn't support symbolic links. Making copies of the original file for each of the functions is undesirable as it increases the amount of disk space used by Octave. Instead Octave supplies the autoload function, that permits the user to define in which file a certain function will be found.

Built-in Function: autoload (function, file)

Define function to autoload from file.

The second argument, file, should be an absolute file name or a file name in the same directory as the function or script from which the autoload command was run. file should not depend on the Octave load path.

Normally, calls to autoload appear in PKG_ADD script files that are evaluated when a directory is added to the Octave's load path. To avoid having to hardcode directory names in file, if file is in the same directory as the PKG_ADD script then

autoload ("foo", "bar.oct");

will load the function foo from the file bar.oct. The above when bar.oct is not in the same directory or uses like

autoload ("foo", file_in_loadpath ("bar.oct"))

are strongly discouraged, as their behavior might be unpredictable.

With no arguments, return a structure containing the current autoload map.

See also: PKG_ADD.

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