# Binary operations

So far, the programs in our language have only had to deal with one value at a time. That's quite intentional–by restricting our language in this way we've been able to compile everything using only the rax register! Today, that changes. Instead of dealing with one value, we're going to introduce operations that deal with–get this–two values. As it turns out, this is much more challenging!

## Binary operations in the interpreter

…Or at least, it's much more challenging in the compiler. Binary operations in our interpreter really won't be very different from unary operations! First off, here are the operations we will support:

• (+ e1 e2) adds the values of the expressions e1 and e2. e1 and e2 should evaluate to numbers.
• (- e1 e2) subtracts the values of the expressions e1 and e2. e1 and e2 should evaluate to numbers.
• (= e1 e2) evaluates to true if e1 and e2 evaluate to the same value and false otherwise
• (< e1 e2) evaluates to true if e1 evaluates to a smaller number than e2 and false otherwise. e1 and e2 should evaluate to numbers.

Here are the cases we'll need to add to interp_exp:

interp.ml

let interp_exp exp =
match exp with
(* some cases elided... *)
| Lst [Sym "+"; e1; e2] -> (
match (interp_exp e1, interp_exp e2) with
| Number n1, Number n2 ->
Number (n1 + n2)
| _ ->
| Lst [Sym "-"; e1; e2] -> (
match (interp_exp e1, interp_exp e2) with
| Number n1, Number n2 ->
Number (n1 - n2)
| _ ->
| Lst [Sym "="; e1; e2] ->
Boolean (interp_exp e1 = interp_exp e2)
| Lst [Sym "<"; e1; e2] -> (
match (interp_exp e1, interp_exp e2) with
| Number n1, Number n2 ->
Boolean (n1 < n2)
| _ ->


Notice that this code enforces type-correctness: + and < will only work on numbers. Just as we've seen with unary operations and conditionals, the interpreter is just relying on OCaml's implementations of these features.

## Binary operations in the compiler

Here's where it gets tricky.

Let's try to sort of "naively" translate the interpreter version of + (reminder: right now the compiler, unlike the interpreter, does not enforce type-correctness):

compile.ml

let compile_exp exp =
match exp with
(* some cases elided... *)
| Lst [Sym "+"; e1; e2] ->
compile_exp e1 @ compile_exp e2 @ ...


Remember: compile_exp emits instructions to compute the value of exp and to store that value in rax. So by the time we want to add the two values, e2 is going to be in rax and e1 is going to be lost! So, we'll somehow need to "save" the value of e1. Here's an idea: we could save it to a different register! x86-64 has 16 general-purpose registers; let's use r8, written Reg R8 in our OCaml assembly library:

compile.ml

let compile_exp exp =
match exp with
(* some cases elided... *)
| Lst [Sym "+"; e1; e2] ->
compile_exp e1 @ [Mov (Reg R8, Reg Rax)] @ compile_exp e2 @ [Add (Reg Rax, Reg R8)]


Here we're saving compiling e1 into rax, saving rax into r8, compiling e2 into rax, then adding the results of the two expressions together. This seems to work great!

$compile_and_run "(+ 1 2)";; 3$ compile_and_run "(+ (+ 1 2) 3)";;
6
$compile_and_run "(+ 1 (+ 2 3))";; 7  Wait, what was that last result? Something's not right here. Let's look at the assembly we're producing: entry: mov rax, 4 mov r8, rax mov rax, 8 mov r8, rax mov rax, 12 add rax, r8 add rax, r8 ret  We're compiling (+ 1 (+ 2 3)) by first storing the runtime representation of 1 in r8, then compiling the second argument to +. But since the second argument is also a call to +, the first thing it's going to do is do overwrite the value in r8 (in this case, with the runtime representation of 2). We could try to get around this by using more registers. We could imagine having our compiler take a list of registers it's not allowed to use when compiling an expression–here, since r8 is being used to store 1, we couldn't use r8 when compiling (+ 2 3). If we had an infinite number of registers, a scheme like this could work. But since we only have 16, there are going to be expressions that we won't be able to compile with that kind of scheme. So we need someplace to store intermediate values during computation, where we won't run out of room. How about memory? ### The stack The region of memory that our program has available for temporary use during computations is called the stack. (Longer-lived values live in the heap, which we'll talk about in a few lectures.) We'll start with a simple model of this region of memory; we'll make this model more complex, and somewhat more accurate, when we talk about functions. Imagine the stack as an array of cells, each of which has an address. The bottom of our stack is at the highest address. When our program starts executing, the register rsp contains this address. The memory cell at this address contains the function's return address. We'll learn more about what that means later; for now, just know that we shouldn't overwrite the data at that address. The "next" memory cell in the stack–that is, the first cell that we can write data into–is at (rsp - 8). Why -? Because the stack grows "up", from higher addresses to lower addresses. rsp + 8 probably contains data used by the calling function. Why 8? Because the word size on x86-64 is 8 bytes (64 bits). x86-64 memory addresses are 8 bytes; x86-64 registers are 8 bytes; all of our program values are 8 bytes. So the stack looks like this: address data rsp - 16 unused rsp - 8 unused rsp address of caller stack frame ### Accessing the stack from assembly We've seen the mov instruction before–it lets us move immediate data into registers, or move data between registers. It also lets us move data between registers and memory. So, let's modify our compiler to save the value of the first argument to + to memory instead of r8. compile.ml let compile_exp exp = match exp with (* some cases elided... *) | Lst [Sym "+"; e1; e2] -> compile_exp e1 @ [Mov (MemOffset (Reg Rsp, Imm (-8)), Reg Rax)] @ compile_exp e2 @ [Mov (Reg R8, MemOffset (Reg Rsp, Imm (-8)))] @ [Add (Reg Rax, Reg R8)]  If we compile (+ 1 2) now, we get this: entry: mov rax, 4 mov [rsp + -8], rax mov rax, 8 mov r8, [rsp + -8] add rax, r8 ret  Those square-bracketed expressions are how our assembly language represents memory accesses. As we see, offsets into memory (of the form <operand> + <operand>) can be used as operands to instructions like mov and add. What happens if we compile (+ 1 (+ 2 3)) now? We still have the same problem we did before–2 is overwriting 1, this time at [rsp - 8] instead of in r8: entry: mov rax, 4 mov [rsp + -8], rax mov rax, 8 mov [rsp + -8], rax mov rax, 12 mov r8, [rsp + -8] add rax, r8 mov r8, [rsp + -8] add rax, r8 ret  Now, though, we'll be able to fix this issue. ### Tracking the stack index Instead of storing the intermediate value 2 at [rsp - 8], the compiler should store it at the next available stack address: [rsp - 16]. So when we call compile_exp e2, we will need to let it know that [rsp - 16] is the new first stack address. We can implement this by adding an argument to compile_exp representing the next available stack index: compile.ml let compile_exp (stack_index : int) exp = ...  Most of the time, this stack_index argument will remain unchanged through recursive calls. But if we store something on the stack, we'll need to update it. Right now, we need to do that in exactly one place: that compile_exp e2 call. We'll modify our code to store the intermediate value at [rsp + stack_index], and to subtract 8 from the stack index for that recursive call: compile.ml let compile_exp exp = match exp with (* some cases elided... *) | Lst [Sym "+"; e1; e2] -> compile_exp stack_index e1 @ [Mov (MemOffset (Reg Rsp, Imm stack_index), Reg Rax)] @ compile_exp (stack_index - 8) e2 @ [Mov (Reg R8, MemOffset (Reg Rsp, Imm stack_index))] @ [Add (Reg Rax, Reg R8)]  We now get the following code for (+ 1 (+ 2 3)): entry: mov rax, 4 mov [rsp + -8], rax mov rax, 8 mov [rsp + -16], rax mov rax, 12 mov r8, [rsp + -16] add rax, r8 mov r8, [rsp + -8] add rax, r8 ret  This now works great! We've successfully implemented addition. ## Other binary operations Our code for the other binary operations we support looks similar. Note that since - isn't commutative, we need to be careful about the order of the first and second arguments! compile.ml let compile_exp exp = match exp with (* some cases elided... *) | Lst [Sym "-"; e1; e2] -> compile_exp stack_index e1 @ [Mov (MemOffset (Reg Rsp, Imm stack_index), Reg Rax)] @ compile_exp (stack_index - 8) e2 @ [Mov (Reg R8, Reg Rax)] @ [Mov (Reg Rax, MemOffset (Reg Rsp, Imm stack_index))] @ [Sub (Reg Rax, Reg R8)] | Lst [Sym "="; e1; e2] -> compile_exp stack_index e1 @ [Mov (MemOffset (Reg Rsp, Imm stack_index), Reg Rax)] @ compile_exp (stack_index - 8) e2 @ [Mov (Reg R8, MemOffset (Reg Rsp, Imm stack_index))] @ [Cmp (Reg Rax, Reg R8)] @ zf_to_bool | Lst [Sym "<"; e1; e2] -> compile_exp stack_index e1 @ [Mov (MemOffset (Reg Rsp, Imm stack_index), Reg Rax)] @ compile_exp (stack_index - 8) e2 @ [Mov (Reg R8, MemOffset (Reg Rsp, Imm stack_index))] @ [Cmp (Reg R8, Reg Rax)] @ lf_to_bool  < uses lf_to_bool, which calls setl instead of setz. setl reads the SF and OF flags; after a comparison operation, it will set its operand to 1 if the first comparison argument was strictly less than the second. let lf_to_bool : directive list = [ Mov (Reg Rax, Imm 0); Setl (Reg Rax); Shl (Reg Rax, Imm bool_shift); Or (Reg Rax, Imm bool_tag); ]  ## A note about undefined behavior What should this expression evaluate to? (+ 1 false)  Our interpreter gives us the answer: just like a nonsense expression like (hello csci1260), (+ 1 false) isn't part of our language, so the interpreter raises an exception. What will our compiler do on this program? $ compile_and_run "(+ 1 false)";;


Our runtime indicates that we've produced a bad value (specifically, 35)–it doesn't correspond to anything in our tagging scheme. So, OK–the compiler and the interpreter both end up producing errors on this program.

(+ 32 false)


Our interpreter, of course, still throws an exception. But our compiler does something pretty weird:

\$ compile_and_run "(+ 32 false)";;
"true"


Weird, right? It makes sense, though: since false is represented as 0b00011111 and 32 is represented as 0b10000000, false + 32 is 0b10011111, the runtime representation of true.

So: is this a bug in our compiler? Maybe not! (+ 32 false) isn't a valid program in the language supported by our compiler. There are lots of these invalid programs! Different ones result in different things:

• Programs like (hello csci1260) result in an exception at compile time
• Programs like (+ 1 false) result in a runtime error
• Programs like (+ 32 false) result in a strange value

The behavior of our compiler on these programs is undefined. We can error our at compile-time, error out at runtime, produce a reasonable-looking value, or anything else. Some real-world programming languages include undefined behavior as part of the language standard; for instance, dereferencing a null pointer in C is undefined.

Many modern languages, however, eschew undefined behavior–as we have just seen, it's quite confusing for programmers! A reasonable specification for programs like (+ 1 true) is that they should result in errors. In a couple of weeks, we will see how to add error-handling to our compiler and get rid of this strange behavior. For now, we'll leave our compiler's behavior specified only on valid expressions.