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PERLINTERP(1pm)        Perl Programmers Reference Guide        PERLINTERP(1pm)


       perlinterp - An overview of the Perl interpreter


       This document provides an overview of how the Perl interpreter works at
       the level of C code, along with pointers to the relevant C source code


       The work of the interpreter has two main stages: compiling the code
       into the internal representation, or bytecode, and then executing it.
       "Compiled code" in perlguts explains exactly how the compilation stage

       Here is a short breakdown of perl's operation:

       The action begins in perlmain.c. (or miniperlmain.c for miniperl) This
       is very high-level code, enough to fit on a single screen, and it
       resembles the code found in perlembed; most of the real action takes
       place in perl.c

       perlmain.c is generated by "ExtUtils::Miniperl" from miniperlmain.c at
       make time, so you should make perl to follow this along.

       First, perlmain.c allocates some memory and constructs a Perl
       interpreter, along these lines:

           1 PERL_SYS_INIT3(&argc,&argv,&env);
           3 if (!PL_do_undump) {
           4     my_perl = perl_alloc();
           5     if (!my_perl)
           6         exit(1);
           7     perl_construct(my_perl);
           8     PL_perl_destruct_level = 0;
           9 }

       Line 1 is a macro, and its definition is dependent on your operating
       system. Line 3 references "PL_do_undump", a global variable - all
       global variables in Perl start with "PL_". This tells you whether the
       current running program was created with the "-u" flag to perl and then
       undump, which means it's going to be false in any sane context.

       Line 4 calls a function in perl.c to allocate memory for a Perl
       interpreter. It's quite a simple function, and the guts of it looks
       like this:

        my_perl = (PerlInterpreter*)PerlMem_malloc(sizeof(PerlInterpreter));

       Here you see an example of Perl's system abstraction, which we'll see
       later: "PerlMem_malloc" is either your system's "malloc", or Perl's own
       "malloc" as defined in malloc.c if you selected that option at
       configure time.

       Next, in line 7, we construct the interpreter using perl_construct,
       also in perl.c; this sets up all the special variables that Perl needs,
       the stacks, and so on.

       Now we pass Perl the command line options, and tell it to go:

        if (!perl_parse(my_perl, xs_init, argc, argv, (char **)NULL))

        exitstatus = perl_destruct(my_perl);


       "perl_parse" is actually a wrapper around "S_parse_body", as defined in
       perl.c, which processes the command line options, sets up any
       statically linked XS modules, opens the program and calls "yyparse" to
       parse it.

       The aim of this stage is to take the Perl source, and turn it into an
       op tree. We'll see what one of those looks like later. Strictly
       speaking, there's three things going on here.

       "yyparse", the parser, lives in perly.c, although you're better off
       reading the original YACC input in perly.y. (Yes, Virginia, there is a
       YACC grammar for Perl!) The job of the parser is to take your code and
       "understand" it, splitting it into sentences, deciding which operands
       go with which operators and so on.

       The parser is nobly assisted by the lexer, which chunks up your input
       into tokens, and decides what type of thing each token is: a variable
       name, an operator, a bareword, a subroutine, a core function, and so
       on. The main point of entry to the lexer is "yylex", and that and its
       associated routines can be found in toke.c. Perl isn't much like other
       computer languages; it's highly context sensitive at times, it can be
       tricky to work out what sort of token something is, or where a token
       ends. As such, there's a lot of interplay between the tokeniser and the
       parser, which can get pretty frightening if you're not used to it.

       As the parser understands a Perl program, it builds up a tree of
       operations for the interpreter to perform during execution. The
       routines which construct and link together the various operations are
       to be found in op.c, and will be examined later.

       Now the parsing stage is complete, and the finished tree represents the
       operations that the Perl interpreter needs to perform to execute our
       program. Next, Perl does a dry run over the tree looking for
       optimisations: constant expressions such as "3 + 4" will be computed
       now, and the optimizer will also see if any multiple operations can be
       replaced with a single one. For instance, to fetch the variable $foo,
       instead of grabbing the glob *foo and looking at the scalar component,
       the optimizer fiddles the op tree to use a function which directly
       looks up the scalar in question. The main optimizer is "peep" in op.c,
       and many ops have their own optimizing functions.

       Now we're finally ready to go: we have compiled Perl byte code, and all
       that's left to do is run it. The actual execution is done by the
       "runops_standard" function in run.c; more specifically, it's done by
       these three innocent looking lines:

           while ((PL_op = PL_op->op_ppaddr(aTHX))) {

       You may be more comfortable with the Perl version of that:

           PERL_ASYNC_CHECK() while $Perl::op = &{$Perl::op->{function}};

       Well, maybe not. Anyway, each op contains a function pointer, which
       stipulates the function which will actually carry out the operation.
       This function will return the next op in the sequence - this allows for
       things like "if" which choose the next op dynamically at run time. The
       "PERL_ASYNC_CHECK" makes sure that things like signals interrupt
       execution if required.

       The actual functions called are known as PP code, and they're spread
       between four files: pp_hot.c contains the "hot" code, which is most
       often used and highly optimized, pp_sys.c contains all the system-
       specific functions, pp_ctl.c contains the functions which implement
       control structures ("if", "while" and the like) and pp.c contains
       everything else. These are, if you like, the C code for Perl's built-in
       functions and operators.

       Note that each "pp_" function is expected to return a pointer to the
       next op. Calls to perl subs (and eval blocks) are handled within the
       same runops loop, and do not consume extra space on the C stack. For
       example, "pp_entersub" and "pp_entertry" just push a "CxSUB" or
       "CxEVAL" block struct onto the context stack which contain the address
       of the op following the sub call or eval. They then return the first op
       of that sub or eval block, and so execution continues of that sub or
       block. Later, a "pp_leavesub" or "pp_leavetry" op pops the "CxSUB" or
       "CxEVAL", retrieves the return op from it, and returns it.

   Exception handing
       Perl's exception handing (i.e. "die" etc.) is built on top of the low-
       level "setjmp()"/"longjmp()" C-library functions. These basically
       provide a way to capture the current PC and SP registers and later
       restore them; i.e. a "longjmp()" continues at the point in code where a
       previous "setjmp()" was done, with anything further up on the C stack
       being lost. This is why code should always save values using "SAVE_FOO"
       rather than in auto variables.

       The perl core wraps "setjmp()" etc in the macros "JMPENV_PUSH" and
       "JMPENV_JUMP". The basic rule of perl exceptions is that "exit", and
       "die" (in the absence of "eval") perform a JMPENV_JUMP(2), while "die"
       within "eval" does a JMPENV_JUMP(3).

       At entry points to perl, such as "perl_parse()", "perl_run()" and
       "call_sv(cv, G_EVAL)" each does a "JMPENV_PUSH", then enter a runops
       loop or whatever, and handle possible exception returns. For a 2
       return, final cleanup is performed, such as popping stacks and calling
       "CHECK" or "END" blocks. Amongst other things, this is how scope
       cleanup still occurs during an "exit".

       If a "die" can find a "CxEVAL" block on the context stack, then the
       stack is popped to that level and the return op in that block is
       assigned to "PL_restartop"; then a JMPENV_JUMP(3) is performed.  This
       normally passes control back to the guard. In the case of "perl_run"
       and "call_sv", a non-null "PL_restartop" triggers re-entry to the
       runops loop. The is the normal way that "die" or "croak" is handled
       within an "eval".

       Sometimes ops are executed within an inner runops loop, such as tie,
       sort or overload code. In this case, something like

           sub FETCH { eval { die } }

       would cause a longjmp right back to the guard in "perl_run", popping
       both runops loops, which is clearly incorrect. One way to avoid this is
       for the tie code to do a "JMPENV_PUSH" before executing "FETCH" in the
       inner runops loop, but for efficiency reasons, perl in fact just sets a
       flag, using "CATCH_SET(TRUE)". The "pp_require", "pp_entereval" and
       "pp_entertry" ops check this flag, and if true, they call "docatch",
       which does a "JMPENV_PUSH" and starts a new runops level to execute the
       code, rather than doing it on the current loop.

       As a further optimisation, on exit from the eval block in the "FETCH",
       execution of the code following the block is still carried on in the
       inner loop. When an exception is raised, "docatch" compares the
       "JMPENV" level of the "CxEVAL" with "PL_top_env" and if they differ,
       just re-throws the exception. In this way any inner loops get popped.

       Here's an example.

           1: eval { tie @a, 'A' };
           2: sub A::TIEARRAY {
           3:     eval { die };
           4:     die;
           5: }

       To run this code, "perl_run" is called, which does a "JMPENV_PUSH" then
       enters a runops loop. This loop executes the eval and tie ops on line
       1, with the eval pushing a "CxEVAL" onto the context stack.

       The "pp_tie" does a "CATCH_SET(TRUE)", then starts a second runops loop
       to execute the body of "TIEARRAY". When it executes the entertry op on
       line 3, "CATCH_GET" is true, so "pp_entertry" calls "docatch" which
       does a "JMPENV_PUSH" and starts a third runops loop, which then
       executes the die op. At this point the C call stack looks like this:

           Perl_runops      # third loop
           Perl_runops      # second loop
           Perl_runops      # first loop

       and the context and data stacks, as shown by "-Dstv", look like:

           STACK 0: MAIN
             CX 0: BLOCK  =>
             CX 1: EVAL   => AV()  PV("A"\0)
           STACK 1: MAGIC
             CX 0: SUB    =>
             CX 1: EVAL   => *

       The die pops the first "CxEVAL" off the context stack, sets
       "PL_restartop" from it, does a JMPENV_JUMP(3), and control returns to
       the top "docatch". This then starts another third-level runops level,
       which executes the nextstate, pushmark and die ops on line 4. At the
       point that the second "pp_die" is called, the C call stack looks
       exactly like that above, even though we are no longer within an inner
       eval; this is because of the optimization mentioned earlier. However,
       the context stack now looks like this, ie with the top CxEVAL popped:

           STACK 0: MAIN
             CX 0: BLOCK  =>
             CX 1: EVAL   => AV()  PV("A"\0)
           STACK 1: MAGIC
             CX 0: SUB    =>

       The die on line 4 pops the context stack back down to the CxEVAL,
       leaving it as:

           STACK 0: MAIN
             CX 0: BLOCK  =>

       As usual, "PL_restartop" is extracted from the "CxEVAL", and a
       JMPENV_JUMP(3) done, which pops the C stack back to the docatch:

           Perl_runops      # second loop
           Perl_runops      # first loop

       In  this case, because the "JMPENV" level recorded in the "CxEVAL"
       differs from the current one, "docatch" just does a JMPENV_JUMP(3) and
       the C stack unwinds to:


       Because "PL_restartop" is non-null, "run_body" starts a new runops loop
       and execution continues.

       You should by now have had a look at perlguts, which tells you about
       Perl's internal variable types: SVs, HVs, AVs and the rest. If not, do
       that now.

       These variables are used not only to represent Perl-space variables,
       but also any constants in the code, as well as some structures
       completely internal to Perl. The symbol table, for instance, is an
       ordinary Perl hash. Your code is represented by an SV as it's read into
       the parser; any program files you call are opened via ordinary Perl
       filehandles, and so on.

       The core Devel::Peek module lets us examine SVs from a Perl program.
       Let's see, for instance, how Perl treats the constant "hello".

             % perl -MDevel::Peek -e 'Dump("hello")'
           1 SV = PV(0xa041450) at 0xa04ecbc
           2   REFCNT = 1
           3   FLAGS = (POK,READONLY,pPOK)
           4   PV = 0xa0484e0 "hello"\0
           5   CUR = 5
           6   LEN = 6

       Reading "Devel::Peek" output takes a bit of practise, so let's go
       through it line by line.

       Line 1 tells us we're looking at an SV which lives at 0xa04ecbc in
       memory. SVs themselves are very simple structures, but they contain a
       pointer to a more complex structure. In this case, it's a PV, a
       structure which holds a string value, at location 0xa041450. Line 2 is
       the reference count; there are no other references to this data, so
       it's 1.

       Line 3 are the flags for this SV - it's OK to use it as a PV, it's a
       read-only SV (because it's a constant) and the data is a PV internally.
       Next we've got the contents of the string, starting at location

       Line 5 gives us the current length of the string - note that this does
       not include the null terminator. Line 6 is not the length of the
       string, but the length of the currently allocated buffer; as the string
       grows, Perl automatically extends the available storage via a routine
       called "SvGROW".

       You can get at any of these quantities from C very easily; just add
       "Sv" to the name of the field shown in the snippet, and you've got a
       macro which will return the value: "SvCUR(sv)" returns the current
       length of the string, "SvREFCOUNT(sv)" returns the reference count,
       "SvPV(sv, len)" returns the string itself with its length, and so on.
       More macros to manipulate these properties can be found in perlguts.

       Let's take an example of manipulating a PV, from "sv_catpvn", in sv.c

            1  void
            2  Perl_sv_catpvn(pTHX_ SV *sv, const char *ptr, STRLEN len)
            3  {
            4      STRLEN tlen;
            5      char *junk;

            6      junk = SvPV_force(sv, tlen);
            7      SvGROW(sv, tlen + len + 1);
            8      if (ptr == junk)
            9          ptr = SvPVX(sv);
           10      Move(ptr,SvPVX(sv)+tlen,len,char);
           11      SvCUR(sv) += len;
           12      *SvEND(sv) = '\0';
           13      (void)SvPOK_only_UTF8(sv);          /* validate pointer */
           14      SvTAINT(sv);
           15  }

       This is a function which adds a string, "ptr", of length "len" onto the
       end of the PV stored in "sv". The first thing we do in line 6 is make
       sure that the SV has a valid PV, by calling the "SvPV_force" macro to
       force a PV. As a side effect, "tlen" gets set to the current value of
       the PV, and the PV itself is returned to "junk".

       In line 7, we make sure that the SV will have enough room to
       accommodate the old string, the new string and the null terminator. If
       "LEN" isn't big enough, "SvGROW" will reallocate space for us.

       Now, if "junk" is the same as the string we're trying to add, we can
       grab the string directly from the SV; "SvPVX" is the address of the PV
       in the SV.

       Line 10 does the actual catenation: the "Move" macro moves a chunk of
       memory around: we move the string "ptr" to the end of the PV - that's
       the start of the PV plus its current length. We're moving "len" bytes
       of type "char". After doing so, we need to tell Perl we've extended the
       string, by altering "CUR" to reflect the new length. "SvEND" is a macro
       which gives us the end of the string, so that needs to be a "\0".

       Line 13 manipulates the flags; since we've changed the PV, any IV or NV
       values will no longer be valid: if we have "$a=10; $a.="6";" we don't
       want to use the old IV of 10. "SvPOK_only_utf8" is a special
       UTF-8-aware version of "SvPOK_only", a macro which turns off the IOK
       and NOK flags and turns on POK. The final "SvTAINT" is a macro which
       launders tainted data if taint mode is turned on.

       AVs and HVs are more complicated, but SVs are by far the most common
       variable type being thrown around. Having seen something of how we
       manipulate these, let's go on and look at how the op tree is


       First, what is the op tree, anyway? The op tree is the parsed
       representation of your program, as we saw in our section on parsing,
       and it's the sequence of operations that Perl goes through to execute
       your program, as we saw in "Running".

       An op is a fundamental operation that Perl can perform: all the built-
       in functions and operators are ops, and there are a series of ops which
       deal with concepts the interpreter needs internally - entering and
       leaving a block, ending a statement, fetching a variable, and so on.

       The op tree is connected in two ways: you can imagine that there are
       two "routes" through it, two orders in which you can traverse the tree.
       First, parse order reflects how the parser understood the code, and
       secondly, execution order tells perl what order to perform the
       operations in.

       The easiest way to examine the op tree is to stop Perl after it has
       finished parsing, and get it to dump out the tree. This is exactly what
       the compiler backends B::Terse, B::Concise and CPAN module <B::Debug

       Let's have a look at how Perl sees "$a = $b + $c":

            % perl -MO=Terse -e '$a=$b+$c'
            1  LISTOP (0x8179888) leave
            2      OP (0x81798b0) enter
            3      COP (0x8179850) nextstate
            4      BINOP (0x8179828) sassign
            5          BINOP (0x8179800) add [1]
            6              UNOP (0x81796e0) null [15]
            7                  SVOP (0x80fafe0) gvsv  GV (0x80fa4cc) *b
            8              UNOP (0x81797e0) null [15]
            9                  SVOP (0x8179700) gvsv  GV (0x80efeb0) *c
           10          UNOP (0x816b4f0) null [15]
           11              SVOP (0x816dcf0) gvsv  GV (0x80fa460) *a

       Let's start in the middle, at line 4. This is a BINOP, a binary
       operator, which is at location 0x8179828. The specific operator in
       question is "sassign" - scalar assignment - and you can find the code
       which implements it in the function "pp_sassign" in pp_hot.c. As a
       binary operator, it has two children: the add operator, providing the
       result of "$b+$c", is uppermost on line 5, and the left hand side is on
       line 10.

       Line 10 is the null op: this does exactly nothing. What is that doing
       there? If you see the null op, it's a sign that something has been
       optimized away after parsing. As we mentioned in "Optimization", the
       optimization stage sometimes converts two operations into one, for
       example when fetching a scalar variable. When this happens, instead of
       rewriting the op tree and cleaning up the dangling pointers, it's
       easier just to replace the redundant operation with the null op.
       Originally, the tree would have looked like this:

           10          SVOP (0x816b4f0) rv2sv [15]
           11              SVOP (0x816dcf0) gv  GV (0x80fa460) *a

       That is, fetch the "a" entry from the main symbol table, and then look
       at the scalar component of it: "gvsv" ("pp_gvsv" in pp_hot.c) happens
       to do both these things.

       The right hand side, starting at line 5 is similar to what we've just
       seen: we have the "add" op ("pp_add", also in pp_hot.c) add together
       two "gvsv"s.

       Now, what's this about?

            1  LISTOP (0x8179888) leave
            2      OP (0x81798b0) enter
            3      COP (0x8179850) nextstate

       "enter" and "leave" are scoping ops, and their job is to perform any
       housekeeping every time you enter and leave a block: lexical variables
       are tidied up, unreferenced variables are destroyed, and so on. Every
       program will have those first three lines: "leave" is a list, and its
       children are all the statements in the block. Statements are delimited
       by "nextstate", so a block is a collection of "nextstate" ops, with the
       ops to be performed for each statement being the children of
       "nextstate". "enter" is a single op which functions as a marker.

       That's how Perl parsed the program, from top to bottom:

                                 / \
                                /   \
                               $a   +
                                   / \
                                 $b   $c

       However, it's impossible to perform the operations in this order: you
       have to find the values of $b and $c before you add them together, for
       instance. So, the other thread that runs through the op tree is the
       execution order: each op has a field "op_next" which points to the next
       op to be run, so following these pointers tells us how perl executes
       the code. We can traverse the tree in this order using the "exec"
       option to "B::Terse":

            % perl -MO=Terse,exec -e '$a=$b+$c'
            1  OP (0x8179928) enter
            2  COP (0x81798c8) nextstate
            3  SVOP (0x81796c8) gvsv  GV (0x80fa4d4) *b
            4  SVOP (0x8179798) gvsv  GV (0x80efeb0) *c
            5  BINOP (0x8179878) add [1]
            6  SVOP (0x816dd38) gvsv  GV (0x80fa468) *a
            7  BINOP (0x81798a0) sassign
            8  LISTOP (0x8179900) leave

       This probably makes more sense for a human: enter a block, start a
       statement. Get the values of $b and $c, and add them together.  Find
       $a, and assign one to the other. Then leave.

       The way Perl builds up these op trees in the parsing process can be
       unravelled by examining toke.c, the lexer, and perly.y, the YACC
       grammar. Let's look at the code that constructs the tree for "$a = $b +

       First, we'll look at the "Perl_yylex" function in the lexer. We want to
       look for "case 'x'", where x is the first character of the operator.
       (Incidentally, when looking for the code that handles a keyword, you'll
       want to search for "KEY_foo" where "foo" is the keyword.) Here is the
       code that handles assignment (there are quite a few operators beginning
       with "=", so most of it is omitted for brevity):

            1    case '=':
            2        s++;
                     ... code that handles == => etc. and pod ...
            3        pl_yylval.ival = 0;
            4        OPERATOR(ASSIGNOP);

       We can see on line 4 that our token type is "ASSIGNOP" ("OPERATOR" is a
       macro, defined in toke.c, that returns the token type, among other
       things). And "+":

            1     case '+':
            2         {
            3             const char tmp = *s++;
                          ... code for ++ ...
            4             if (PL_expect == XOPERATOR) {
            5                 Aop(OP_ADD);
            6             }
            7         }

       Line 4 checks what type of token we are expecting. "Aop" returns a
       token.  If you search for "Aop" elsewhere in toke.c, you will see that
       it returns an "ADDOP" token.

       Now that we know the two token types we want to look for in the parser,
       let's take the piece of perly.y we need to construct the tree for "$a =
       $b + $c"

           1 term    :   term ASSIGNOP term
           2                { $$ = newASSIGNOP(OPf_STACKED, $1, $2, $3); }
           3         |   term ADDOP term
           4                { $$ = newBINOP($2, 0, scalar($1), scalar($3)); }

       If you're not used to reading BNF grammars, this is how it works:
       You're fed certain things by the tokeniser, which generally end up in
       upper case. "ADDOP" and "ASSIGNOP" are examples of "terminal symbols",
       because you can't get any simpler than them.

       The grammar, lines one and three of the snippet above, tells you how to
       build up more complex forms. These complex forms, "non-terminal
       symbols" are generally placed in lower case. "term" here is a non-
       terminal symbol, representing a single expression.

       The grammar gives you the following rule: you can make the thing on the
       left of the colon if you see all the things on the right in sequence.
       This is called a "reduction", and the aim of parsing is to completely
       reduce the input. There are several different ways you can perform a
       reduction, separated by vertical bars: so, "term" followed by "="
       followed by "term" makes a "term", and "term" followed by "+" followed
       by "term" can also make a "term".

       So, if you see two terms with an "=" or "+", between them, you can turn
       them into a single expression. When you do this, you execute the code
       in the block on the next line: if you see "=", you'll do the code in
       line 2. If you see "+", you'll do the code in line 4. It's this code
       which contributes to the op tree.

                   |   term ADDOP term
                   { $$ = newBINOP($2, 0, scalar($1), scalar($3)); }

       What this does is creates a new binary op, and feeds it a number of
       variables. The variables refer to the tokens: $1 is the first token in
       the input, $2 the second, and so on - think regular expression
       backreferences. $$ is the op returned from this reduction. So, we call
       "newBINOP" to create a new binary operator. The first parameter to
       "newBINOP", a function in op.c, is the op type. It's an addition
       operator, so we want the type to be "ADDOP". We could specify this
       directly, but it's right there as the second token in the input, so we
       use $2. The second parameter is the op's flags: 0 means "nothing
       special". Then the things to add: the left and right hand side of our
       expression, in scalar context.

       The functions that create ops, which have names like "newUNOP" and
       "newBINOP", call a "check" function associated with each op type,
       before returning the op. The check functions can mangle the op as they
       see fit, and even replace it with an entirely new one. These functions
       are defined in op.c, and have a "Perl_ck_" prefix. You can find out
       which check function is used for a particular op type by looking in
       regen/opcodes.  Take "OP_ADD", for example. ("OP_ADD" is the token
       value from the "Aop(OP_ADD)" in toke.c which the parser passes to
       "newBINOP" as its first argument.) Here is the relevant line:

           add             addition (+)            ck_null         IfsT2   S S

       The check function in this case is "Perl_ck_null", which does nothing.
       Let's look at a more interesting case:

           readline        <HANDLE>                ck_readline     t%      F?

       And here is the function from op.c:

            1 OP *
            2 Perl_ck_readline(pTHX_ OP *o)
            3 {
            6     if (o->op_flags & OPf_KIDS) {
            7          OP *kid = cLISTOPo->op_first;
            8          if (kid->op_type == OP_RV2GV)
            9              kid->op_private |= OPpALLOW_FAKE;
           10     }
           11     else {
           12         OP * const newop
           13             = newUNOP(OP_READLINE, 0, newGVOP(OP_GV, 0,
           14                                               PL_argvgv));
           15         op_free(o);
           16         return newop;
           17     }
           18     return o;
           19 }

       One particularly interesting aspect is that if the op has no kids
       (i.e., "readline()" or "<>") the op is freed and replaced with an
       entirely new one that references *ARGV (lines 12-16).


       When perl executes something like "addop", how does it pass on its
       results to the next op? The answer is, through the use of stacks. Perl
       has a number of stacks to store things it's currently working on, and
       we'll look at the three most important ones here.

   Argument stack
       Arguments are passed to PP code and returned from PP code using the
       argument stack, "ST". The typical way to handle arguments is to pop
       them off the stack, deal with them how you wish, and then push the
       result back onto the stack. This is how, for instance, the cosine
       operator works:

             NV value;
             value = POPn;
             value = Perl_cos(value);

       We'll see a more tricky example of this when we consider Perl's macros
       below. "POPn" gives you the NV (floating point value) of the top SV on
       the stack: the $x in "cos($x)". Then we compute the cosine, and push
       the result back as an NV. The "X" in "XPUSHn" means that the stack
       should be extended if necessary - it can't be necessary here, because
       we know there's room for one more item on the stack, since we've just
       removed one! The "XPUSH*" macros at least guarantee safety.

       Alternatively, you can fiddle with the stack directly: "SP" gives you
       the first element in your portion of the stack, and "TOP*" gives you
       the top SV/IV/NV/etc. on the stack. So, for instance, to do unary
       negation of an integer:


       Just set the integer value of the top stack entry to its negation.

       Argument stack manipulation in the core is exactly the same as it is in
       XSUBs - see perlxstut, perlxs and perlguts for a longer description of
       the macros used in stack manipulation.

   Mark stack
       I say "your portion of the stack" above because PP code doesn't
       necessarily get the whole stack to itself: if your function calls
       another function, you'll only want to expose the arguments aimed for
       the called function, and not (necessarily) let it get at your own data.
       The way we do this is to have a "virtual" bottom-of-stack, exposed to
       each function. The mark stack keeps bookmarks to locations in the
       argument stack usable by each function. For instance, when dealing with
       a tied variable, (internally, something with "P" magic) Perl has to
       call methods for accesses to the tied variables. However, we need to
       separate the arguments exposed to the method to the argument exposed to
       the original function - the store or fetch or whatever it may be.
       Here's roughly how the tied "push" is implemented; see "av_push" in

            1  PUSHMARK(SP);
            2  EXTEND(SP,2);
            3  PUSHs(SvTIED_obj((SV*)av, mg));
            4  PUSHs(val);
            5  PUTBACK;
            6  ENTER;
            7  call_method("PUSH", G_SCALAR|G_DISCARD);
            8  LEAVE;

       Let's examine the whole implementation, for practice:

            1  PUSHMARK(SP);

       Push the current state of the stack pointer onto the mark stack. This
       is so that when we've finished adding items to the argument stack, Perl
       knows how many things we've added recently.

            2  EXTEND(SP,2);
            3  PUSHs(SvTIED_obj((SV*)av, mg));
            4  PUSHs(val);

       We're going to add two more items onto the argument stack: when you
       have a tied array, the "PUSH" subroutine receives the object and the
       value to be pushed, and that's exactly what we have here - the tied
       object, retrieved with "SvTIED_obj", and the value, the SV "val".

            5  PUTBACK;

       Next we tell Perl to update the global stack pointer from our internal
       variable: "dSP" only gave us a local copy, not a reference to the

            6  ENTER;
            7  call_method("PUSH", G_SCALAR|G_DISCARD);
            8  LEAVE;

       "ENTER" and "LEAVE" localise a block of code - they make sure that all
       variables are tidied up, everything that has been localised gets its
       previous value returned, and so on. Think of them as the "{" and "}" of
       a Perl block.

       To actually do the magic method call, we have to call a subroutine in
       Perl space: "call_method" takes care of that, and it's described in
       perlcall. We call the "PUSH" method in scalar context, and we're going
       to discard its return value. The call_method() function removes the top
       element of the mark stack, so there is nothing for the caller to clean

   Save stack
       C doesn't have a concept of local scope, so perl provides one. We've
       seen that "ENTER" and "LEAVE" are used as scoping braces; the save
       stack implements the C equivalent of, for example:

               local $foo = 42;

       See "Localizing changes" in perlguts for how to use the save stack.


       One thing you'll notice about the Perl source is that it's full of
       macros. Some have called the pervasive use of macros the hardest thing
       to understand, others find it adds to clarity. Let's take an example, a
       stripped-down version the code which implements the addition operator:

          1  PP(pp_add)
          2  {
          3      dSP; dATARGET;
          4      tryAMAGICbin_MG(add_amg, AMGf_assign|AMGf_numeric);
          5      {
          6        dPOPTOPnnrl_ul;
          7        SETn( left + right );
          8        RETURN;
          9      }
         10  }

       Every line here (apart from the braces, of course) contains a macro.
       The first line sets up the function declaration as Perl expects for PP
       code; line 3 sets up variable declarations for the argument stack and
       the target, the return value of the operation. Line 4 tries to see if
       the addition operation is overloaded; if so, the appropriate subroutine
       is called.

       Line 6 is another variable declaration - all variable declarations
       start with "d" - which pops from the top of the argument stack two NVs
       (hence "nn") and puts them into the variables "right" and "left", hence
       the "rl". These are the two operands to the addition operator.  Next,
       we call "SETn" to set the NV of the return value to the result of
       adding the two values. This done, we return - the "RETURN" macro makes
       sure that our return value is properly handled, and we pass the next
       operator to run back to the main run loop.

       Most of these macros are explained in perlapi, and some of the more
       important ones are explained in perlxs as well. Pay special attention
       to "Background and PERL_IMPLICIT_CONTEXT" in perlguts for information
       on the "[pad]THX_?" macros.


       For more information on the Perl internals, please see the documents
       listed at "Internals and C Language Interface" in perl.

perl v5.34.0                      2020-11-18                   PERLINTERP(1pm)

perl 5.34.0 - Generated Sat Feb 26 06:03:31 CST 2022
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