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4.3.3 Array Aggregates

   [In an array_aggregate, a value is specified for each component of an array, either positionally or by its index.] For a positional_array_aggregate, the components are given in increasing-index order, with a final others, if any, representing any remaining components. For a named_array_aggregate, the components are identified by the values covered by the discrete_choices.

Language Design Principles

The rules in this subclause are based on terms and rules for discrete_choice_lists defined in 3.8.1, ``Variant Parts and Discrete Choices''. For example, the requirements that others come last and stand alone are found there.


array_aggregate ::=
  positional_array_aggregate | named_array_aggregate
positional_array_aggregate ::=
    (expressionexpression {, expression})
  | (expression {, expression}, others => expression)
named_array_aggregate ::=
    (array_component_association {, array_component_association})
array_component_association ::=
    discrete_choice_list => expression
   {n-dimensional array_aggregate} An n-dimensional array_aggregate is one that is written as n levels of nested array_aggregates (or at the bottom level, equivalent string_literals). {subaggregate (of an array_aggregate)} For the multidimensional case (n >= 2) the array_aggregates (or equivalent string_literals) at the n-1 lower levels are called subaggregates of the enclosing n-dimensional array_aggregate. {array component expression} The expressions of the bottom level subaggregates (or of the array_aggregate itself if one-dimensional) are called the array component expressions of the enclosing n-dimensional array_aggregate.
Ramification: Subaggregates do not have a type. They correspond to part of an array. For example, with a matrix, a subaggregate would correspond to a single row of the matrix. The definition of "n-dimensional" array_aggregate applies to subaggregates as well as aggregates that have a type.
To be honest: {others choice} An others choice is the reserved word others as it appears in a positional_array_aggregate or as the discrete_choice of the discrete_choice_list in an array_component_association.

Name Resolution Rules

   {expected type (array_aggregate) [partial]} The expected type for an array_aggregate (that is not a subaggregate) shall be a single nonlimited array type. {expected type (array_aggregate component expression) [partial]} The component type of this array type is the expected type for each array component expression of the array_aggregate.
Ramification: We already require a single array or record type or record extension for an aggregate. The above rule requiring a single nonlimited array type (and similar ones for record and extension aggregates) resolves which kind of aggregate you have.
   {expected type (array_aggregate discrete_choice) [partial]} The expected type for each discrete_choice in any discrete_choice_list of a named_array_aggregate is the type of the corresponding index; {corresponding index (for an array_aggregate)} the corresponding index for an array_aggregate that is not a subaggregate is the first index of its type; for an (n-m)-dimensional subaggregate within an array_aggregate of an n-dimensional type, the corresponding index is the index in position m+1.

Legality Rules

   An array_aggregate of an n-dimensional array type shall be written as an n-dimensional array_aggregate.
Ramification: In an m-dimensional array_aggregate [(including a subaggregate)], where m >= 2, each of the expressions has to be an (m-1)-dimensional subaggregate.
    An others choice is allowed for an array_aggregate only if an applicable index constraint applies to the array_aggregate. {applicable index constraint} [An applicable index constraint is a constraint provided by certain contexts where an array_aggregate is permitted that can be used to determine the bounds of the array value specified by the aggregate.] Each of the following contexts (and none other) defines an applicable index constraint:
Reason: This case is broken out because the constraint comes from the actual subtype of the variable (which is always constrained) rather than its nominal subtype (which might be unconstrained).
Discussion: Here, the array_aggregate with others is being used within a larger aggregate.
Discussion: RM83 omitted this case, presumably as an oversight. We want to minimize situations where an expression becomes illegal if parenthesized.
    The applicable index constraint applies to an array_aggregate that appears in such a context, as well as to any subaggregates thereof. In the case of an explicit_actual_parameter (or default_expression) for a call on a generic formal subprogram, no applicable index constraint is defined.
Reason: This avoids generic contract model problems, because only mode conformance is required when matching actual subprograms with generic formal subprograms.
    The discrete_choice_list of an array_component_association is allowed to have a discrete_choice that is a nonstatic expression or that is a discrete_range that defines a nonstatic or null range, only if it is the single discrete_choice of its discrete_choice_list, and there is only one array_component_association in the array_aggregate.
Discussion: We now allow a nonstatic others choice even if there are other array component expressions as well.
    In a named_array_aggregate with more than one discrete_choice, no two discrete_choices are allowed to cover the same value (see 3.8.1); if there is no others choice, the discrete_choices taken together shall exactly cover a contiguous sequence of values of the corresponding index type.
Ramification: This implies that each component must be specified exactly once. See AI83-309.
    A bottom level subaggregate of a multidimensional array_aggregate of a given array type is allowed to be a string_literal only if the component type of the array type is a character type; each character of such a string_literal shall correspond to a defining_character_literal of the component type.

Static Semantics

    A subaggregate that is a string_literal is equivalent to one that is a positional_array_aggregate of the same length, with each expression being the character_literal for the corresponding character of the string_literal.

Dynamic Semantics

    {evaluation (array_aggregate) [partial]} The evaluation of an array_aggregate of a given array type proceeds in two steps:
Any discrete_choices of this aggregate and of its subaggregates are evaluated in an arbitrary order, and converted to the corresponding index type; {implicit subtype conversion (choices of aggregate) [partial]}
The array component expressions of the aggregate are evaluated in an arbitrary order and their values are converted to the component subtype of the array type; an array component expression is evaluated once for each associated component. {implicit subtype conversion (expressions of aggregate) [partial]}
Ramification: Subaggregates are not separately evaluated. The conversion of the value of the component expressions to the component subtype might raise Constraint_Error.
    {bounds (of the index range of an array_aggregate)} The bounds of the index range of an array_aggregate [(including a subaggregate)] are determined as follows:
Reason: We don't need to say that each index value has to be covered exactly once, since that is a ramification of the general rule on aggregates that each component's value has to be specified exactly once.
    {Range_Check [partial]} {check, language-defined (Range_Check)} For an array_aggregate, a check is made that the index range defined by its bounds is compatible with the corresponding index subtype.
Discussion: In RM83, this was phrased more explicitly, but once we define "compatibility" between a range and a subtype, it seems to make sense to take advantage of that definition.
Ramification: The definition of compatibility handles the special case of a null range, which is always compatible with a subtype. See AI83-00313.
    {Index_Check [partial]} {check, language-defined (Index_Check)} For an array_aggregate with an others choice, a check is made that no expression is specified for an index value outside the bounds determined by the applicable index constraint.
Discussion: RM83 omitted this case, apparently through an oversight. AI83-00309 defines this as a dynamic check, even though other Ada 83 rules ensured that this check could be performed statically. We now allow an others choice to be dynamic, even if it is not the only choice, so this check now needs to be dynamic, in some cases. Also, within a generic unit, this would be a nonstatic check in some cases.
    {Index_Check [partial]} {check, language-defined (Index_Check)} For a multidimensional array_aggregate, a check is made that all subaggregates that correspond to the same index have the same bounds.
Ramification: No array bounds ``sliding'' is performed on subaggregates.
Reason: If sliding were performed, it would not be obvious which subaggregate would determine the bounds of the corresponding index.
    {Constraint_Error (raised by failure of run-time check)} The exception Constraint_Error is raised if any of the above checks fail.
10  In an array_aggregate, positional notation may only be used with two or more expressions; a single expression in parentheses is interpreted as a parenthesized_expression. A named_array_aggregate, such as (1 => X), may be used to specify an array with a single component.


    Examples of array aggregates with positional associations:
(7, 9, 5, 1, 3, 2, 4, 8, 6, 0)
Table'(5, 8, 4, 1, others => 0)  --  see 3.6 
    Examples of array aggregates with named associations:
(1 .. 5 => (1 .. 8 => 0.0))      --  two-dimensional
(1 .. N => new Cell)             --  N new cells, in particular for N = 0
Table'(2 | 4 | 10 => 1, others => 0)
Schedule'(Mon .. Fri => True,  others => False)  --  see 3.6
Schedule'(Wed | Sun  => False, others => True)
Vector'(1 => 2.5)                                --  single-component vector
    Examples of two-dimensional array aggregates:
-- Three aggregates for the same value of subtype Matrix(1..2,1..3) (see 3.6):
((1.1, 1.2, 1.3), (2.1, 2.2, 2.3))
(1 => (1.1, 1.2, 1.3), 2 => (2.1, 2.2, 2.3))
(1 => (1 => 1.1, 2 => 1.2, 3 => 1.3), 2 => (1 => 2.1, 2 => 2.2, 3 => 2.3))
    Examples of aggregates as initial values:
A : Table := (7, 9, 5, 1, 3, 2, 4, 8, 6, 0);        -- A(1)=7, A(10)=0
B : Table := (2 | 4 | 10 => 1, others => 0);        -- B(1)=0, B(10)=1
C : constant Matrix := (1 .. 5 => (1 .. 8 => 0.0)); -- C'Last(1)=5, C'Last(2)=8
D : Bit_Vector(M .. N) := (M .. N => True);         -- see 3.6
E : Bit_Vector(M .. N) := (others => True);
F : String(1 .. 1) := (1 => 'F');  -- a one component aggregate: same as "F"

Incompatibilities With Ada 83

{incompatibilities with Ada 83} In Ada 95, no applicable index constraint is defined for a parameter in a call to a generic formal subprogram; thus, some aggregates that are legal in Ada 83 are illegal in Ada 95. For example:
subtype S3 is String (1 .. 3);
   with function F (The_S3 : in S3) return Integer;
package Gp is
   I : constant Integer := F ((1 => '!', others => '?'));
       -- The aggregate is legal in Ada 83, illegal in Ada 95.
end Gp;
This change eliminates generic contract model problems.

Extensions to Ada 83

{extensions to Ada 83} We now allow "named with others" aggregates in all contexts where there is an applicable index constraint, effectively eliminating what was RM83-4.3.2(6). Sliding never occurs on an aggregate with others, because its bounds come from the applicable index constraint, and therefore already match the bounds of the target.
The legality of an others choice is no longer affected by the staticness of the applicable index constraint. This substantially simplifies several rules, while being slightly more flexible for the user. It obviates the rulings of AI83-00244 and AI83-00310, while taking advantage of the dynamic nature of the "extra values" check required by AI83-00309.
Named array aggregates are permitted even if the index type is descended from a formal scalar type. See 4.9 and AI83-00190.

Wording Changes from Ada 83

We now separate named and positional array aggregate syntax, since, unlike other aggregates, named and positional associations cannot be mixed in array aggregates (except that an others choice is allowed in a positional array aggregate).
We have also reorganized the presentation to handle multidimensional and one-dimensional aggregates more uniformly, and to incorporate the rulings of AI83-00019, AI83-00309, etc.

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