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An assignment sets a field to the result of an expression.

Initial Values

In Fuzion, static code analysis ensures that no field is called before an initial value has been assigned to the field.

A program that may access uninitialized fields does not compile:

Immutable fields

By default fields are immutable. This means no value may be assigned to a field except for the assignment of the initial value. In most situations, it is fully sufficient to work with immutable fields.

Imagine you want to write a loop that calculates the sum of all the elements in an array by iterating over the array and adding up the values of all elements in a variable s. The following code does this using an immutable loop index variable:

This code, in effect, creates a new instance of s for each loop iteration. Each of these instances is immutable.

Mutability using mutate Effect

CAVEAT: Using mutable fields has a number of disadvantages, in particular, the field may no longer be used by multiple threads and functions accessing that field become impure, i.e., their result depends not only on the input parameters but also on the current value of the mutable field. This makes analysis of the code hard and prohibits optimizations that would be possible otherwise.

Mutable fields can be realized in Fuzion using effects, in particular the mutate effect permits repeated modification of a value. A field x that may be mutated using this effect can be created via a call to mut giving the initial value a of the field:

If you analyze this code using the button Effects!, you will see that this code uses the mutate effect.

Once created, the field may be updated to a value b using:

x <- b

To read the field, x.get is currently required (it is planned to add syntax sugar to avoid the need to call .get explicitly). This small code-snippet illustrates this:

A more useful example using a mutable field cn to cache the result of a function call is given here:

The following sections of this tutorial will present techniques to avoid field updates. Using these techniques will enable compiler optimizations that are not possible with mutable fields. Immutable fields will also be a basic prerequisite for Fuzion's safe concurrency model.