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Make yield_ and yield_from_ interoperate with native async generators again #16

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@oremanj oremanj commented Apr 5, 2018

Instead of trying to explicitly construct AsyncGenValueWrapper objects, trick the interpreter into doing the wrapping and unwrapping for us. There's still some ctypes hackery involved, but it's much less finicky: just changing the type of an async generator object.

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Instead of trying to explicitly construct AsyncGenValueWrapper objects, trick the interpreter into doing the wrapping and unwrapping for us. There's still some ctypes hackery involved, but it's much less finicky: just changing the type of an async generator object.
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@codecov codecov bot commented Apr 5, 2018

Codecov Report

Merging #16 into master will not change coverage.
The diff coverage is 100%.

Impacted file tree graph

@@          Coverage Diff          @@
##           master    #16   +/-   ##
=====================================
  Coverage     100%   100%           
=====================================
  Files           7      7           
  Lines         972    992   +20     
  Branches       77     79    +2     
=====================================
+ Hits          972    992   +20
Impacted Files Coverage Δ
async_generator/_tests/test_async_generator.py 100% <100%> (ø) ⬆️
async_generator/_impl.py 100% <100%> (ø) ⬆️

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@oremanj oremanj requested a review from njsmith Apr 5, 2018
# In this case, it's OK, because async generator objects are just
# generator objects plus a few extra fields at the end; and these
# fields are two integers and a NULL-until-first-iteration object
# pointer, so they don't hold any resources that need to be cleaned up.

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Why is the NULL-until-first-iteration object pointer safe? I guess it's because we transmute the object before the first iteration, so the pointer remains NULL forever, and thus never needs to be DECREFed? This is probably worth noting explicitly.

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oremanj Apr 6, 2018
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Yep, that's it exactly. I expanded the comment to clarify.

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@oremanj oremanj commented May 2, 2018

@njsmith ping? I'm interested in getting this merged and a new async_generator version released with it and #15 so I can depend on that version in other projects (e.g. make trio do something sane with the GC hooks). I'd be happy to get #17 in too, but that's a larger change and I don't want to tie this one's fate to that one. :-)

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@njsmith njsmith commented Aug 1, 2018

@oremanj Sorry for being so slow to review this! This is going to be kind of a combined review of this (#16) and #17...

So first of all, I want to say again how incredibly impressive this work is on the technical level! I am in awe.

If I understand correctly, the pitch for this PR is "you can use yield_from_ without having to type @async_generator", and the pitch for #17 is "async generators get several times faster and their tracebacks stop being so incredibly terrible".

If I have the right, then I don't this PR is worth it. It's not that hard to write @async_generator, right? And whenever people skip writing it, it makes their code incompatible with PyPy, and also dependent on CPython implementation details in a way that could cause it to break in the future. That seems like a bad trade-off.

OTOH, #17 is somewhat attractive, if we can make it essentially transparent, so people don't write their code any differently but just magically get better runtime behavior. The tracebacks are really bad. I guess I am particularly annoyed at them because of how trio's nursery implementation uses @async_generator + @asynccontextmanager and that makes like, every trio traceback terrible. We shouldn't weight that too highly, since we need to rewrite the nursery to stop using @asynccontextmanager anyway (python-trio/trio#393), but still, the tracebacks are bad.

It's such an intrusive change that it does make me nervous – async_generator gets several thousand downloads a day now – but if it can be done in a seamless kind of way where it "just works" and no-one notices, then that'd be pretty cool actually. As written #17 isn't like that yet, with the deprecations and everything, and I'm not sure whether it's actually possible or not (combining bytecode introspection and rewriting code objects and ctypes leaves a lot of room for things to go subtly wrong!), but if you want to convince me I'm open to being convinced?

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@oremanj oremanj commented Aug 2, 2018

Thanks for the review!

I would say the pitch of #16 is "you can use await yield_from_ in a native async generator with native yield statements", like the async_generator package previously supported on Linux but not Windows. Being able to use await yield_ too is an unintended and mostly-harmless side effect.

(And if you leave off the @async_generator from an async function that uses only await yield_ and/or await yield_from_, and doesn't use any native yield statements, you get not an async generator but a normal async function, that will hopelessly confuse your event loop unless you happen to call it from another async generator -- i.e., you have written something that fits in a similar place as yield_() itself. Everything in this parenthetical is the same with or without #16, since there are no async generators involved.)


And, of course, the other half of the pitch for #16 is that it's required in order for #17 to work. I think I agree with you that we shouldn't commit #16 if we don't intend to commit some form of #17. I think that to the extent there's a case to be made for committing both of them, it goes like so:

If you're writing an async application that targets Python 3.6+ only, you're probably going to use native async generators, because they take less typing to write / are faster to execute / don't add lots of traceback frames / are arguably syntactically clearer. If your application uses an async library that wants to support 3.5, that library is probably going to use @async_generator functions, because it kinda has to. Now within your Python interpreter are two different beasts called "async generator", which behave in mostly but not entirely identical ways. That seems to me to be a recipe for confusion. My overall goal with this set of PRs (#15, #16, #17) has been to reduce the confusion by making @async_generator functions behave as much like native async generators as the constraints of the underlying implementation will permit. Making them identical under the hood seems to be about as much alike as we could possibly achieve. I think this is a good idea, though obviously it's allowed to compete with other good ideas like "don't depend on internal implementation details".


Regarding PyPy support: Apparently PyPy has reasonably solid 3.6 support on nightly these days, including async generators. I played around with its async generators and, via a similar type-punning scheme to the one used in this PR for CPython, got my hands on something that appears to be an AsyncGenValueWrapper object. Unfortunately, any attempt to use it beyond id() segfaults. My understanding of the PyPy object memory layout is based on a blog post from 2009, so it's not unreasonable that these difficulties might be resolved with a less cursory effort. (Very much not guaranteed to work out, though.)

I think #17 can be modified to make it transparent without much trouble. Currently it is very loud and conservative about the one tiny difference it's aware of (the ag_running thing), but I think it would be reasonable for us to just declare that if "ag_running is False while an asend is active but suspended" is good enough for CPython, it's good enough for us. As dicey as bytecode introspection can be in the general case, this one is looking for an extremely simple pattern with no potential for false positives -- maybe some wacky stack management could make us fail to detect an asyncgen that is truly safe, but we'll never think something is safe (returns only None) when it has non-None return paths. And the mechanics of the code object reconstruction is exactly the same thing that the stdlib types module does to set CO_ITERABLE_COROUTINE. Not that that inspires complete confidence, but at least it's not nothing. :-)

Any thoughts? I'm inclined to push a little more on seeing whether I can make this native integration strategy work with PyPy, and will feel less bullish about these diffs if I can't.

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@oremanj oremanj commented Feb 22, 2019

PyPy's inclusion of alpha support for 3.6 in their 7.0.0 release made me revisit this. I found a way to create native wrapped values with no memory hackery at all:

>>>> import types, inspect
>>>> async def wrapper():
....   holder = [None]
....   while True:
....     holder.append((yield holder.pop()))
....     
>>>> co = wrapper.__code__
>>>> co2 = types.CodeType(co.co_argcount, co.co_kwonlyargcount, co.co_nlocals, co.co_stacksize, co.co_flags | inspect.CO_COROUTINE, co.co_code, co.co_consts,
.... co.co_names, co.co_varnames, co.co_filename, co.co_name, co.co_firstlineno, co.co_lnotab, co.co_freevars, co.co_cellvars)
>>>> wrapper.__code__ = co2
>>>> wrapper = wrapper()
>>>> @types.coroutine
.... def _yield_(value):
....   yield value
....   
>>>> async def yield_(value):
....   await _yield_(wrapper.send(value))
....   
>>>> async def agen():
....   yield 1
....   await yield_(2)
....   yield 3
....   
>>>> ag = agen()
>>>> ag.asend(None).send(None)
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
StopIteration: 1
>>>> ag.asend(None).send(None)
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
StopIteration: 2
>>>> ag.asend(None).send(None)
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
StopIteration: 3
>>>> 

This works because if you create a function whose code object has both CO_COROUTINE and CO_ASYNC_GENERATOR set, it happens to get wrapped in a coroutine object, but still gets the async generator behavior when a yield occurs.

(And this works on CPython too!)

The nontrivial downside: the PyPy version of AsyncGenValueWrapper has no application-level type. If you try to perform any operation on it directly, like printing it or getting its type(), you get a segfault. I can't think of any way that someone could do that without trying really hard, but it's definitely spiky.

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@oremanj oremanj commented Feb 23, 2019

I can't think of any way that someone could do that without trying really hard, but it's definitely spiky.

I guess I was being extremely unimaginative: if someone calls await yield_() from outside an @async_generator function, they'll yield a value wrapper object to the event loop, which will almost certainly poke it in some fashion and blow up. So this is probably a non-starter.

We could try to convince the PyPy folks to make AsyncGenValueWrapper into a real type, like it is in CPython, but I think it might be more likely that they'd decide the mechanism I was using to get them is a bug, and close that "hole" instead.

Ah well. A fun experiment at any rate.

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