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Multi-return function call

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 August 2006

OLIN SHIVERS
Affiliation:
College of Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology, GA, USA (email: shivers@cc.gatech.edu, dfisher@cc.gatech.edu)
DAVID FISHER
Affiliation:
College of Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology, GA, USA (email: shivers@cc.gatech.edu, dfisher@cc.gatech.edu)
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Abstract

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It is possible to extend the basic notion of “function call” to allow functions to have multiple return points. This turns out to be a surprisingly useful mechanism. This article conducts a fairly wide-ranging tour of such a feature: a formal semantics for a minimal $\lambda$-calculus capturing the mechanism; motivating examples; monomorphic and parametrically polymorphic static type systems; useful transformations; implementation concerns and experience with an implementation; and comparison to related mechanisms, such as exceptions, sum-types and explicit continuations. We conclude that multiple-return function call is not only a useful and expressive mechanism, at both the source-code and intermediate-representation levels, but also quite inexpensive to implement.

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2006 Cambridge University Press
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