Chapter 16. Compatibility Features

This chapter describes several items that are included with current versions of Chez Scheme primarily for compatibility with older versions of the system.

Section 16.1 describes a hash-table interface that has since been replaced by the R6RS hashtable interface. Section 16.2 describes extend-syntax macros. These features are supported directly by current versions of Chez Scheme, but support may be dropped in future versions. New programs should use the standard mechanisms described in in The Scheme Programming Language, 4th Edition [11] instead.

Section 16.3 describes a mechanism for defining record-like structures as vectors instead of new unique types. New programs should use define-record, which is described in Section 7.13, instead.

Section 16.4 describes a compatibility file distributed with Chez Scheme that contains definitions for forms and procedures no longer supported directly by Chez Scheme.

Section 16.1. Hash Tables

The hash table procedures here are obviated by the new hash table procedures listed in Section 7.12.

procedure: (make-hash-table)
procedure: (make-hash-table weak?)
returns: a new hash table
libraries: (chezscheme)

If weak? is provided and is non-false, the hash table is a weak hash table, which means that it does not protect keys from the garbage collector. Keys reclaimed by the garbage collector are removed from the table, and their associated values are dropped the next time the table is modified, if not sooner.

procedure: (hash-table? obj)
returns: #t if obj is a hash table, otherwise #f
libraries: (chezscheme)

procedure: (put-hash-table! ht k v)
returns: unspecified
libraries: (chezscheme)

ht must be a hash table. k and v may be any Scheme values.

put-hash-table! associates the value v with the key k in ht.

procedure: (get-hash-table ht k d)
returns: see below
libraries: (chezscheme)

get-hash-table returns the value associated with k in ht. If no value is associated with k in ht, get-hash-table returns d.

Key comparisons are performed with eq?.

Because objects may be moved by the garbage collector, get-hash-table may need to rehash some objects and therefore cause side effects in the hash table. Thus, it is not safe to perform concurrent accesses of the same hash table from multiple threads using get-hash-table.

procedure: (remove-hash-table! ht k)
returns: unspecified
libraries: (chezscheme)

remove-hash-table! drops any association for k from ht.

procedure: (hash-table-map ht p)
returns: see below
libraries: (chezscheme)

hash-table-map applies p to each key, value association in ht, in no particular order, and returns a list of the resulting values, again in no particular order. p should accept two arguments, a key and a value.

procedure: (hash-table-for-each ht p)
returns: unspecified
libraries: (chezscheme)

hash-table-for-each applies p to each key, value association in ht, in no particular order. Unlike hash-table-map, it does not create a list of the values; instead, it's value is unspecified. p should accept two arguments, a key and a value.

Section 16.2. Extend-Syntax Macros

This section describes extend-syntax, a powerful yet easy to use syntactic extension facility based on pattern matching [26]. Syntactic transformations written using extend-syntax are similar to those written using a define-syntax with syntax-case, except that the transformations produced by extend-syntax do not automatically respect lexical scoping.

It is not typically possible to mix syntactic abstractions written using syntax-case with those written using extend-syntax seamlessly; it is generally preferable to use one or the other wherever possible. Support for extend-syntax within the syntax-case expander is provided only as an aid to migrating to syntax-case.

syntax: (extend-syntax (name key ...) (pat fender template) ...)
returns: unspecified
libraries: (chezscheme)

The identifier name is the name, or syntax keyword, for the syntactic extension to be defined. When the system expander processes any list expression whose car is name, the syntactic transformation procedure generated by extend-syntax is invoked on this expression. The remaining identifiers key ... are additional keywords to be recognized within input expressions during expansion (such as else in cond or case).

Each clause after the list of keys consists of a pattern pat, an optional fender, and a template. The optional fender is omitted more often than not. The pat specifies the syntax the input expression must have for the clause to be chosen. Identifiers within the pattern that are not keywords (pattern variables) are bound to corresponding pieces of the input expression. If present, the fender is a Scheme expression that specifies additional constraints on the input expression (accessed through the pattern variables) that must be satisfied in order for the clause to be chosen. The template specifies what form the output takes, usually in terms of the pattern variables.

During expansion, the transformation procedure extend-syntax generates attempts to match the input expression against each pattern in the order the clauses are given. If the input expression matches the pattern, the pattern variables are bound to the corresponding pieces of the input expression and the fender for the clause, if any, is evaluated. If the fender returns a true value, the given expansion is performed. If input does not match the pattern or if the fender returns a false value, the transformation procedure tries the next clause. An exception is raised with condition type &assertion if no clause can be chosen.

Within the pattern, ellipsis (...) may be used to specify zero or more occurrences of the preceding pattern fragment, or prototype. Similarly, ellipses may be used in the output to specify the construction of zero or more expansion prototypes. In this case, the expansion prototype must contain part of an input pattern prototype. The use of patterns, templates, ellipses within patterns and templates, and fenders is illustrated in the following sequence of examples.

The first example, defining rec, uses a single keyword, a single clause with no fender, and no ellipses.

(extend-syntax (rec)
  [(rec id val)
   (let ([id #f])
     (set! id val)

The second example, defining when, shows the use of ellipses.

(extend-syntax (when)
  [(when test exp1 exp2 ...)
   (if test (begin exp1 exp2 ...) #f)])

The next example shows the definition of let. The definition of let shows the use of multiple ellipses, employing one for the identifier/value pairs and one for the expressions in the body. It also shows that the prototype need not be a single identifier, and that pieces of the prototype may be separated from one another in the template.

(extend-syntax (let)
  [(let ([x e] ...) b1 b2 ...)
   ((lambda (x ...) b1 b2 ...) e ...)])

The next example shows let*, whose syntax is the same as for let, but which is defined recursively in terms of let with two clauses (one for the base case, one for the recursion step) since it must produce a nested structure.

(extend-syntax (let*)
  [(let* () b1 b2 ...)
   (let () b1 b2 ...)]
  [(let* ([x e] more ...) b1 b2 ...)
   (let ([x e]) (let* (more ...) b1 b2 ...))])

The first pattern/template pair matches any let* expression with no identifier/value pairs and maps it into the equivalent begin expression. This is the base case. The second pattern/template pair matches any let* expression with one or more identifier/value pairs and transforms it into a let expression binding the first pair whose body is a let* expression binding the remaining pairs. This is the recursion step, which will eventually lead us to the base case because we remove one identifier/value pair at each step. Notice that the second pattern uses the pattern variable more for the second and later identifier/value pairs; this makes the pattern and template less cluttered and makes it clear that only the first identifier/value pair is dealt with explicitly.

The definition for and requires three clauses. The first clause is necessary to recognize (and), and the second two define all other and forms recursively.

(extend-syntax (and)
  [(and) #t]
  [(and x) x]
  [(and x y ...) (if x (and y ...) #f)])

The definition for cond requires four clauses. As with let*, cond must be described recursively, partly because it produces nested if expressions, and partly because one ellipsis prototype would not be sufficient to describe all possible cond clauses. The definition of cond also requires that we specify else as a keyword, in addition to cond. Here is the definition:

(extend-syntax (cond else)
  [(cond) #f]
  [(cond (else e1 e2 ...))
   (begin e1 e2 ...)]
  [(cond (test) more ...)
   (or test (cond more ...))]
  [(cond (test e1 e2 ...) more ...)
   (if test
       (begin e1 e2 ...)
       (cond more ...))])

Two of the clauses are base cases and two are recursion steps. The first base case is an empty cond. The value of cond in this case is unspecified, so the choice of #f is somewhat arbitrary. The second base case is a cond containing only an else clause; this is transformed to the equivalent begin expression. The two recursion steps differ in the number of expressions in the cond clause. The value of cond when the first true clause contains only the test expression is the value of the test. This is similar to what or does, so we expand the cond clause into an or expression. On the other hand, when there are expressions following the test expression, the value of the last expression is returned, so we use if and begin.

To be absolutely correct about the syntax of let, we actually must require that the bound identifiers in the input are symbols. If we typed something like (let ([3 x]) x) we would not get an error from let because it does not check to verify that the objects in the identifier positions are symbols. Instead, lambda may complain, or perhaps the system evaluator long after expansion is complete. This is where fenders are useful.

(extend-syntax (let)
  [(let ([x e] ...) b1 b2 ...)
   (andmap symbol? '(x ...))
   ((lambda (x ...) b1 b2 ...) e ...)])

The andmap of symbol? over '(x ...) assures that each bound identifier is a symbol. A fender is simply a Scheme expression. Within that expression, any quoted object is first expanded by the same rules as the template part of the clause. In this case, '(x ...) is expanded to the list of identifiers from the identifier/value pairs.

extend-syntax typically handles everything you need it for, but some syntactic extension definitions require the ability to include the result of evaluating an arbitrary Scheme expression. This ability is provided by with.

syntax: (with ((pat expr) ...) template)
returns: processed template

with is valid only within an template inside of extend-syntax. with patterns are the same as extend-syntax patterns, with expressions are the same as extend-syntax fenders, and with templates are the same as extend-syntax templates.

with can be used to introduce new pattern identifiers bound to expressions produced by arbitrary Scheme expressions within extend-syntax templates. That is, with allows an escape from the declarative style of extend-syntax into the procedural style of full Scheme.

One common use of with is the introduction of a temporary identifier or list of temporary identifiers into a template. with is also used to perform complex transformations that might be clumsy or inefficient if performed within the extend-syntax framework.

For example, or requires the use of a temporary identifier. We could define or as follows.

(extend-syntax (or)
  [(or) #f]
  [(or x) x]
  [(or x y ...)
   (let ([temp x])
     (if temp temp (or y ...)))])

This would work until we placed an or expression within the scope of an occurrence of temp, in which case strange things could happen, since extend-syntax does not respect lexical scoping. (This is one of the reasons that define-syntax is preferable to extend-syntax.)

(let ([temp #t])
  (or #f temp)) <graphic> #f

One solution is to use gensym and with to create a temporary identifier, as follows.

(extend-syntax (or)
  [(or) #f]
  [(or x) x]
  [(or x y ...)
   (with ([temp (gensym)])
     (let ([temp x])
       (if temp temp (or y ...))))])

Also, with can be used to combine elements of the input pattern in ways not possible directly with extend-syntax, such as the following folding-plus example.

(extend-syntax (folding-plus)
  [(folding-plus x y)
   (and (number? 'x) (number? 'y))
   (with ([val (+ 'x 'y)])
  [(folding-plus x y) (+ x y)])

folding-plus collapses into the value of (+ x y) if both x and y are numeric constants. Otherwise, folding-plus is transformed into (+ x y) for later evaluation. The fender checks that the operands are numbers at expansion time, and the with performs the evaluation. As with fenders, expansion is performed only within a quoted expressions, since quote sets the data apart from the remainder of the Scheme expression.

The example below binds a list of pattern variables to a list of temporary symbols, taking advantage of the fact that with allows us to bind patterns to expressions. This list of temporaries helps us to implement the sigma syntactic extension. sigma is similar to lambda, except it assigns the identifiers in the identifier list instead of creating new bindings. It may be used to perform a series of assignments in parallel.

(extend-syntax (sigma)
  [(sigma (x ...) e1 e2 ...)
   (with ([(t ...) (map (lambda (x) (gensym)) '(x ...))])
     (lambda (t ...)
       (set! x t) ...
       e1 e2 ...))])

(let ([x 'a] [y 'b])
  ((sigma (x y) (list x y)) y x)) <graphic> (b a)

The final example below uses extend-syntax to implement define-structure, following a similar example using syntax-case in Section 8.4 of The Scheme Programming Language, 4th Edition.

The definition of define-structure makes use of two pattern/template clauses. Two clauses are needed to handle the optionality of the second subexpression. The first clause matches the form without the second subexpression and merely converts it into the equivalent form with the second subexpression present, but empty.

The definition also makes heavy use of with to evaluate Scheme expressions at expansion time. The first four with clauses are used to manufacture the identifiers that name the automatically defined procedures. (The procedure format is particularly useful here, but it could be replaced with string-append!, using symbol->string as needed.) The first two clauses yield single identifiers (for the constructor and predicate), while the next two yield lists of identifiers (for the field access and assignment procedures). The fifth with clause (the final clause in the outer with) is used to count the total length vector needed for each instance of the structure, which must include room for the name and all of the fields. The final with clause (the only clause in the inner with) is used to create a list of vector indexes, one for each field (starting at 1, since the structure name occupies position 0).

(extend-syntax (define-structure)
  [(define-structure (name id1 ...))
   (define-structure (name id1 ...) ())]
  [(define-structure (name id1 ...) ([id2 val] ...))
   (with ([constructor
           (string->symbol (format "make-~a" 'name))]
           (string->symbol (format "~a?" 'name))]
          [(access ...)
           (map (lambda (x)
                    (format "~a-~a" 'name x)))
                '(id1 ... id2 ...))]
          [(assign ...)
           (map (lambda (x)
                    (format "set-~a-~a!" 'name x)))
                '(id1 ... id2 ...))]
          [count (length '(name id1 ... id2 ...))])
     (with ([(index ...)
             (let f ([i 1])
               (if (= i 'count)
                   (cons i (f (+ i 1)))))])
         (define constructor
           (lambda (id1 ...)
             (let* ([id2 val] ...)
               (vector 'name id1 ... id2 ...))))
         (define predicate
           (lambda (obj)
             (and (vector? obj)
                  (= (vector-length obj) count)
                  (eq? (vector-ref obj 0) 'name))))
         (define access
           (lambda (obj)
             (vector-ref obj index)))
         (define assign
           (lambda (obj newval)
             (vector-set! obj index newval)))

Section 16.3. Structures

This section describes a mechanism, similar to the record-defining mechanisms of Section 7.13, that permits the creation of data structures with fixed sets of named fields. Unlike record types, structure types are not unique types, but are instead implemented as vectors. Specifically, a structure is implemented as a vector whose length is one more than the number of fields and whose first element contains the symbolic name of the structure.

The representation of structures as vectors simplifies reading and printing of structures somewhat as well as extension of the structure definition facility. It does, however, have some drawbacks. One is that structures may be treated as ordinary vectors by mistake in situations where doing so is inappropriate. When dealing with both structures and vectors in a program, care must be taken to look for the more specific structure type before checking for the more generic vector type, e.g., in a series of cond clauses. A similar drawback is that structure instances are easily "forged," either intentionally or by accident. It is also impossible to control how structures are printed and read.

Structures are created via define-structure. Each structure definition defines a constructor procedure, a type predicate, an access procedure for each of its fields, and an assignment procedure for each of its fields. define-structure allows the programmer to control which fields are arguments to the generated constructor procedure and which fields are explicitly initialized by the constructor procedure.

define-structure is simple yet powerful enough for most applications, and it is easily extended to handle many applications for which it is not sufficient. The definition of define-structure given at the end of this section can serve as a starting point for more complicated variants.

syntax: (define-structure (name id1 ...) ((id2 expr) ...))
returns: unspecified
libraries: (chezscheme)

A define-structure form is a definition and may appear anywhere and only where other definitions may appear.

define-structure defines a new data structure, name, and creates a set of procedures for creating and manipulating instances of the structure. The identifiers id1 ... and id2 ... name the fields of the data structure.

The following procedures are defined by define-structure:

The fields named by the identifiers id1 ... are initialized by the arguments to the constructor procedure. The fields named by the identifiers id2 ... are initialized explicitly to the values of the expressions expr .... Each expression is evaluated within the scope of the identifiers id1 ... (bound to the corresponding field values) and any of the identifiers id2 ... (bound to the corresponding field values) appearing before it (as if within a let*).

To clarify, the constructor behaves as if defined as

(define make-name
  (lambda (id1 ...)
    (let* ([id2 expr] ...)

where body builds the structure from the values of the identifiers id1 ... and id2 ....

If no fields other than those initialized by the arguments to the constructor procedure are needed, the second subexpression, ((id2 expr) ...), may be omitted.

The following simple example demonstrates how pairs might be defined in Scheme if they did not already exist. Both fields are initialized by the arguments to the constructor procedure.

(define-structure (pare car cdr))
(define p (make-pare 'a 'b))

(pare? p) <graphic> #t
(pair? p) <graphic> #f
(pare? '(a . b)) <graphic> #f

(pare-car p) <graphic> a
(pare-cdr p) <graphic> b

(set-pare-cdr! p (make-pare 'b 'c))

(pare-car (pare-cdr p)) <graphic> b
(pare-cdr (pare-cdr p)) <graphic> c

The following example defines a handy string data structure, called a stretch-string, that grows as needed. This example uses a field explicitly initialized to a value that depends on the value of the constructor argument fields.

(define-structure (stretch-string length fill)
  ([string (make-string length fill)]))

(define stretch-string-ref
  (lambda (s i)
    (let ([n (stretch-string-length s)])
      (when (>= i n) (stretch-stretch-string! s (+ i 1) n))
      (string-ref (stretch-string-string s) i))))

(define stretch-string-set!
  (lambda (s i c)
    (let ([n (stretch-string-length s)])
      (when (>= i n) (stretch-stretch-string! s (+ i 1) n))
      (string-set! (stretch-string-string s) i c))))

(define stretch-string-fill!
  (lambda (s c)
    (string-fill! (stretch-string-string s) c)
    (set-stretch-string-fill! s c)))

(define stretch-stretch-string!
  (lambda (s i n)
    (set-stretch-string-length! s i)
    (let ([str (stretch-string-string s)]
          [fill (stretch-string-fill s)])
      (let ([xtra (make-string (- i n) fill)])
        (set-stretch-string-string! s
          (string-append str xtra))))))

As often happens, most of the procedures defined automatically are used only to define more specialized procedures, in this case the procedures stretch-string-ref and stretch-string-set!. stretch-string-length and stretch-string-string are the only automatically defined procedures that are likely to be called directly in code that uses stretch strings.

(define ss (make-stretch-string 2 #\X))

(stretch-string-string ss) <graphic> "XX"
(stretch-string-ref ss 3) <graphic> #\X
(stretch-string-length ss) <graphic> 4
(stretch-string-string ss) <graphic> "XXXX"

(stretch-string-fill! ss #\@)
(stretch-string-string ss) <graphic> "@@@@"
(stretch-string-ref ss 5) <graphic> #\@
(stretch-string-string ss) <graphic> "@@@@@@"

(stretch-string-set! ss 7 #\=)
(stretch-string-length ss) <graphic> 8
(stretch-string-string ss) <graphic> "@@@@@@@="

Section 8.4 of The Scheme Programming Language, 4th Edition defines a simplified variant of define-structure as an example of the use of syntax-case. The definition given below implements the complete version.

define-structure expands into a series of definitions for names generated from the structure name and field names. The generated identifiers are created with datum->syntax to make the identifiers visible where the define-structure form appears. Since a define-structure form expands into a begin containing definitions, it is itself a definition and can be used wherever definitions are valid.

(define-syntax define-structure
  (lambda (x)
    (define gen-id
      (lambda (template-id . args)
        (datum->syntax template-id
            (apply string-append
                   (map (lambda (x)
                          (if (string? x)
                                (syntax->datum x))))
    (syntax-case x ()
      ((_ (name field1 ...))
       (andmap identifier? #'(name field1 ...))
       #'(define-structure (name field1 ...) ()))
      ((_ (name field1 ...) ((field2 init) ...))
       (andmap identifier? #'(name field1 ... field2 ...))
         ((constructor (gen-id #'name "make-" #'name))
          (predicate (gen-id #'name #'name "?"))
          ((access ...)
           (map (lambda (x) (gen-id x #'name "-" x))
                #'(field1 ... field2 ...)))
          ((assign ...)
           (map (lambda (x) (gen-id x "set-" #'name "-" x "!"))
                #'(field1 ... field2 ...)))
           (+ (length #'(field1 ... field2 ...)) 1))
          ((index ...)
           (let f ([i 1] [ids #'(field1 ... field2 ...)])
             (if (null? ids)
                 (cons i (f (+ i 1) (cdr ids)))))))
             (define constructor
               (lambda (field1 ...)
                 (let* ([field2 init] ...)
                   (vector 'name field1 ... field2 ...))))
             (define predicate
               (lambda (x)
                 (and (vector? x)
                      (#3%fx= (vector-length x) structure-length)
                      (eq? (vector-ref x 0) 'name))))
             (define access (lambda (x) (vector-ref x index)))
             (define assign
               (lambda (x update) (vector-set! x index update)))

Section 16.4. Compatibility File

Current versions of Chez Scheme are distributed with a compatibility file containing definitions of various syntactic forms and procedures supported by earlier versions of Chez Scheme for which support has since been dropped. This file,, is typically installed in the library subdirectory of the Chez Scheme installation directory.

In some cases, the forms and procedures found in have been dropped because they were infrequently used and easily written directly in Scheme. In other cases, the forms and procedures have been rendered obsolete by improvements in the system. In such cases, new code should be written to use the newer features, and older code should be rewritten if possible to use the newer features as well.

R. Kent Dybvig / Chez Scheme Version 8 User's Guide
Copyright © 2009 R. Kent Dybvig
Revised October 2011 for Chez Scheme Version 8.4
Cadence Research Systems /
Cover illustration © 2010 Jean-Pierre Hébert
ISBN: 978-0-966-71392-3
about this book / purchase this book in print form