[squeak-dev] The defaullt implementation of isEmpty might do too much work

Bert Freudenberg bert at freudenbergs.de
Tue Oct 25 11:03:43 UTC 2016

On Tue, Oct 25, 2016 at 6:33 AM, monty <monty2 at programmer.net> wrote:

> Except #do: isn't the only method required to be overridden. #add: and
> #remove:ifAbsent: are also abstract.

Only for extensible subclasses. These *can not* be implemented in terms of
#do: so they have to be implemented in a subclass.

Collection provides a maximum of protocol with a minimum of methods
required to be overridden.

This discussion is besides the point though. I was just pointing out that
requiring #size or #isEmpty to be a subclass responsibility is not a good
idea, because they can and should be implemented in terms of #do:. Whether
#isEmpty should be implemented in terms of #size is a wholly different

Chris has some valid points about historical performance trade-offs which
are worth discussing.

My take is that if we don't know *anything* about the subclass, we have to
assume that #size can be way more expensive than a single iteration of #do:
(e.g. a linked list). So using #do: is the sensible default implementation
for #isEmpty. If OTOH a subclass has a very expensive #do:, then it's
reasonable to assume that it would avoid doing much work if it is in fact

If a Collection subclass did rely on an implementation detail of its
superclass performance-wise then this is unfortunate, but easy to fix by
implementing #isEmpty in terms of #size. We shouldn't let that get in the
way of making our base libraries more elegant.

- Bert -
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