3.9.2 Dispatching Operations of Tagged Types
The primitive subprograms of a tagged type are called dispatching operations. A dispatching operation can be called using a statically determined controlling tag, in which case the body to be executed is determined at compile time. Alternatively, the controlling tag can be dynamically determined, in which case the call dispatches to a body that is determined at run time; such a call is termed a dispatching call. As explained below, the properties of the operands and the context of a particular call on a dispatching operation determine how the controlling tag is determined, and hence whether or not the call is a dispatching call. Run-time polymorphism is achieved when a dispatching operation is called by a dispatching call.
A call on a dispatching operation is a call whose name or prefix denotes the declaration of a primitive subprogram of a tagged type, that is, a dispatching operation. A controlling operand in a call on a dispatching operation of a tagged type T is one whose corresponding formal parameter is of type T or is of an anonymous access type with designated type T; the corresponding formal parameter is called a controlling formal parameter. If the controlling formal parameter is an access parameter, the controlling operand is the object designated by the actual parameter, rather than the actual parameter itself. If the call is to a (primitive) function with result type T, then the call has a controlling result -- the context of the call can control the dispatching.
A name or expression of a tagged type is either statically tagged, dynamically tagged, or tag indeterminate, according to whether, when used as a controlling operand, the tag that controls dispatching is determined statically by the operand's (specific) type, dynamically by its tag at run time, or from context. A qualified_expression or parenthesized expression is statically, dynamically, or indeterminately tagged according to its operand. For other kinds of names and expressions, this is determined as follows:
- The name or expression is statically tagged if it is of a specific tagged type and, if it is a call with a controlling result, it has at least one statically tagged controlling operand;
- The name or expression is dynamically tagged if it is of a class-wide type, or it is a call with a controlling result and at least one dynamically tagged controlling operand;
- The name or expression is tag indeterminate if it is a call with a controlling result, all of whose controlling operands (if any) are tag indeterminate.
A type_conversion is statically or dynamically tagged according to whether the type determined by the subtype_mark is specific or class-wide, respectively. For an object that is designated by an expression whose expected type is an anonymous access-to-specific tagged type, the object is dynamically tagged if the expression, ignoring enclosing parentheses, is of the form X'Access, where X is of a class-wide type, or is of the form new T'(...), where T denotes a class-wide subtype. Otherwise, the object is statically or dynamically tagged according to whether the designated type of the type of the expression is specific or class-wide, respectively.
A call on a dispatching operation shall not have both dynamically tagged and statically tagged controlling operands.
If the expected type for an expression or name is some specific tagged type, then the expression or name shall not be dynamically tagged unless it is a controlling operand in a call on a dispatching operation. Similarly, if the expected type for an expression is an anonymous access-to-specific tagged type, then the object designated by the expression shall not be dynamically tagged unless it is a controlling operand in a call on a dispatching operation.
In the declaration of a dispatching operation of a tagged type, everywhere a subtype of the tagged type appears as a subtype of the profile (see 6.1), it shall statically match the first subtype of the tagged type. If the dispatching operation overrides an inherited subprogram, it shall be subtype conformant with the inherited subprogram. The convention of an inherited or overriding dispatching operation is the convention of the corresponding primitive operation of the parent type. An explicitly declared dispatching operation shall not be of convention Intrinsic.
The default_expression for a controlling formal parameter of a dispatching operation shall be tag indeterminate. A controlling formal parameter that is an access parameter shall not have a default_expression.
A given subprogram shall not be a dispatching operation of two or more distinct tagged types.
The explicit declaration of a primitive subprogram of a tagged type shall occur before the type is frozen (see 13.14). For example, new dispatching operations cannot be added after objects or values of the type exist, nor after deriving a record extension from it, nor after a body.
For the execution of a call on a dispatching operation of a type T, the controlling tag value determines which subprogram body is executed. The controlling tag value is defined as follows:
- If one or more controlling operands are statically tagged, then the controlling tag value is statically determined to be the tag of T.
- If one or more controlling operands are dynamically tagged, then the controlling tag value is not statically determined, but is rather determined by the tags of the controlling operands. If there is more than one dynamically tagged controlling operand, a check is made that they all have the same tag. If this check fails, Constraint_Error is raised unless the call is a function_call whose name denotes the declaration of an equality operator (predefined or user defined) that returns Boolean, in which case the result of the call is defined to indicate inequality, and no subprogram_body is executed. This check is performed prior to evaluating any tag-indeterminate controlling operands.
- If all of the controlling operands are tag-indeterminate, then:
- If the call has a controlling result and is itself a (possibly parenthesized or qualified) controlling operand of an enclosing call on a dispatching operation of type T, then its controlling tag value is determined by the controlling tag value of this enclosing call;
- Otherwise, the controlling tag value is statically determined to be the tag of type T.
For the execution of a call on a dispatching operation, the body executed is the one for the corresponding primitive subprogram of the specific type identified by the controlling tag value. The body for an explicitly declared dispatching operation is the corresponding explicit body for the subprogram. The body for an implicitly declared dispatching operation that is overridden is the body for the overriding subprogram, even if the overriding occurs in a private part. The body for an inherited dispatching operation that is not overridden is the body of the corresponding subprogram of the parent or ancestor type.
70 The body to be executed for a call on a dispatching operation is determined by the tag; it does not matter whether that tag is determined statically or dynamically, and it does not matter whether the subprogram's declaration is visible at the place of the call.
71 This subclause covers calls on primitive subprograms of a tagged type. Rules for tagged type membership tests are described in 4.5.2. Controlling tag determination for an assignment_statement is described in 5.2.
72 A dispatching call can dispatch to a body whose declaration is not visible at the place of the call.
73 A call through an access-to-subprogram value is never a dispatching call, even if the access value designates a dispatching operation. Similarly a call whose prefix denotes a subprogram_renaming_declaration cannot be a dispatching call unless the renaming itself is the declaration of a primitive subprogram.
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Copyright © 2000 The MITRE Corporation, Inc. Ada Reference Manual