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5.3.1 Actormaps overview

An actormap is fundamentally a place in memory holding references to objects so that they may be manipulated. There are two types of actormaps: whactormaps, which use weak-key hash tables as the backing data structure so objects may be garbage collected automatically, and which serve as the root of a generational transaction history of actormap actions; and transactormaps, which are backed by standard hash tables and constitute every other generation of a transaction history. Aside from their backing data structures and resulting use cases, all actormaps are very similar; transactormaps simply also hold a reference to a parent, which is either another transactormap or the root whactormap.

The best way to understand actormaps is by using them. First, create one:

(define am (make-actormap))

Actormaps need actors, so add a simple cell:

(define lunchbox
  (actormap-spawn! am ^cell))

Actors can then be invoked, such as by actormap-poke!:

> (actormap-poke! am lunchbox 'peanut-butter-and-jelly)
> (actormap-peek am lunchbox)
; => 'peanut-butter-and-jelly

For some situations, actormap-poke! and actormap-peek can be interchanged, such as in this version of the above example:

> (actormap-poke! am lunchbox 'bbq-tofu)
> (actormap-poke! am lunchbox)
; => 'bbq-tofu

For other situations, they cannot:

> (actormap-peek am lunchbox 'chickpea-salad)
> (actormap-peek am lunchbox)
; => 'bbq-tofu

This is due to the transactional nature of actormaps. In these examples, you can see that actormap-poke! returns a value and commits changes to the transaction history, while actormap-peek returns a value and throws away changes. Both of these procedures are conveniences over the more powerful and more cumbersome actormap-turn family of procedures.

The next sections will cover these and related procedures in greater detail.

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