HLL/INT: What is an object, anyway?

'Chris Harris' B. Harris chharris@u.washington.edu
Fri, 9 Jun 1995 14:09:55 -0700 (PDT)

In the past, we've had two very distinct versions of an "object".  First was
Mike's old cells proposal, which provided a pretty solid framework for
low-level objects (or cells, if you prefer), but seemed pretty far from what
we eventually wanted with the HLL, etc..  Not that he meant it to be used in
the HLL, of course.  Just that we never got around to briding the two....

Second is the definition of "object" found in the TUNES glossary: "A unified
concept to manipulate computer abstractions".  In other sections, it goes
into more depth about how unified implies that this concept should be simple,
universal, and how much of TUNES' power will come from this.

Now this second definition is cool; it sounds a lot like what TUNES is
looking for.  But it still doesn't answer my question of what an object is.
As nice as theory is, it remains true that we must eventually come down to
something that can be expressed, through various abstraction levels, into
native machine code (or perhaps C in the case of the OTOP project).  So what
can we can an object?  Seems we can't have much of an "object oriented" OS
without answering this question.

Of particular interest to me at the moment is how "OO" (in the modern
computing world definition) low-level (or high-level -- is there a
difference?) TUNES objects will be.  Having no kernel, it would seem
difficult to support inheritance and other rather complex OO features
without help from the objects themselves.  This is cool, but what if we
wanted to have standard, system-wide inheritance or something?  Is this
something TUNES will be able to do?  Can we design intelligent
UI/database/math/whatever libraries without this, or some other good
organizational scheme?

Any thoughts to share?  I'd like to get with my "job" and start helping with
the UI and/or HLL syntax.  But I'm hard pressed to know where to begin either
of those until the HLL semantics are fleshed out a good deal more....



"Be careful lest in casting out your devil you cast out the best thing 
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Check out my web page: http://weber.u.washington.edu/chharris/