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An async fn which isn't Send but which should be? #63768

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oconnor663 opened this issue Aug 21, 2019 · 7 comments

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@oconnor663
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commented Aug 21, 2019

Here's an example which I think should compile, but which doesn't (cargo 1.39.0-nightly 3f700ec43 2019-08-19):

#![feature(async_await)]

fn require_send<T: Send>(_: T) {}

struct NonSendStruct { _ptr: *mut () }

async fn my_future() {
    let nonsend = NonSendStruct { _ptr: &mut () };
    async {}.await;
}

fn main() {
    require_send(my_future()); // error: `*mut ()` cannot be sent between threads safely
}

The error is "*mut () cannot be sent between threads safely", which is to say my_future() is !Send. I'm surprised by that, because the nonsend variable is never used after the .await point, and it's not Drop. Some other notes:

  • Adding a drop(nonsend) call after the let nonsend = ... line doesn't help.
  • This does compile if swap the two lines in my_future. That is, if nonsend is created after the .await point, the future is still Send.

Are there any future plans to have the rustc look more closely at which locals do or do not need to be stored across an .await?

@Nemo157

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commented Aug 21, 2019

Even if NonSendStruct doesn't have an explicit implementation of Drop it's still dropped at the end of scope so is alive across the yield point.

Having rustc try and infer shorter scopes to kill variables before yield points sounds like it might lead to surprising situations when you try and use a variable that appears live which will suddenly make your future !Send, or adding a Drop implementation to the variable or any of its fields. It would be good for it to do so as an optimization when it doesn't visibly affect the execution, but it doesn't seem like that should affect the type checking.

See also #57478 about explicitly dropping the variable before the yield point.

@oconnor663

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commented Aug 21, 2019

Thanks for clarifying for me. While I was playing with this I was thinking about the interaction between Drop and non-lexical lifetimes. Like you can have two consecutive uses of a struct that mutably borrow the same variable, so long as the first usage is "dead" before the second starts. But then that code can break if the struct or any of its members gains a Drop implementation in the future, or if you add a new usage of the first instance after the second instance has been constructed.

In my mind, borrow checking and "Send checking" (whatever that's called) could have worked similarly, using the same "liveness" concept. Though I have no idea what's practical in the compiler, and the issue you linked makes it sound like this might be impractical. But so you see what I mean about how it feels like "liveness" could apply to both?

@oconnor663

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commented Aug 21, 2019

In particular, I found it surprising that "use a nested scope" works as a solution. To me, non-lexical lifetimes were sort of about how "we don't need to use nested scopes anymore," and it seems like a shame to regress on that a little.

But then again there are a bunch of complexities around NLL that I can't think of an equivalent for here. Like Vec is marked #[may_dangle] for its contents, such that it doesn't have to "keep them alive" even though it hasn't been destructed yet. I don't know what the equivalent would be for Send-ness. If a Vec<T> is "alive but never used again" across a yield point, and T isn't Send but also doesn't need Drop, do we feel like this future is morally still Send? I think it could be. But I don't know if #[may_dangle] per se can be reused to indicate that, or if the language would need some additional feature to express it.

@KrishnaSannasi

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commented Aug 21, 2019

@oconnor663 NLL has nothing to do with drop order, so it won't help there. NLL only changed lifetime analysis, which will allow strictly more programs, but won't change the behavior of old programs.

@oconnor663

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commented Aug 21, 2019

@KrishnaSannasi for sure, I was only bringing up NLL as a metaphor for what might be possible/desirable to do about the Send/Sync/Drop -iness of async functions. It seems like the reasoning we do today around "Is this borrow alive?" could be very similar to reasoning we might want to do around "Does this object cross an .await boundary and therefore 'infect' the async function?":

  • Types which don't need Drop at all could be considered not to cross .await boundaries after their last mention.
  • Types which need Drop for their fields but don't implement Drop themselves could have .await boundary crossing evaluated independently for each field. (I believe NLL does something similar for lifetimes? If the Drop field is independent of the containing struct's lifetime parameters, those lifetimes are not extended to end of scope.)
  • Container types which implement Drop with #[may_dangle] on their contents could be treated as though the contents did not cross any .await boundaries after the container's last mention, if the contents aren't Drop. (And this could interact with the second case, if only a sub-field of the contents implements Drop.)
@KrishnaSannasi

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commented Aug 21, 2019

Ok, that looks like it could work, altough I'm not sure if this would make undesirable changes to drop order (haven't really thought about drop order too much before, so I don't know much about the details). Someone else can evaulate that.

@oconnor663

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commented Aug 21, 2019

I guess I'd frame it as "looking very closely at the existing drop order and figuring out whether a !Send object (or field) really lives past an await point."

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