Objects and data types


Anything that can be put on the stack is called object. There are several different types of objects, which can store different types of data. For a number of object types there exist two different states: executable and literal. Some object types can change between these two states. Literal objects are the majority and are simply pushed on the stack when they are entered. By contrast, executable objects perform some operation when they are entered and cannot easily be pushed on the stack.


SLI distinguishes between real and integer numbers. Real numbers correspond to the type double in C/C++. Integer numbers correspond to the type long int of C/C++.

Examples 1

Real numers are: 1.4, .5, 1., 1e-2

Integer numers are 1, 2, 3000


Arrays are sequential containers which can hold any SLI object. The elements of an array are indexed, starting with zero (0) as the first index.

SLI arrays are heterogeneous. Objects of different type may be mixed within one array. Arrays may also be nested to define matrices or tensors of arbitrary rank.

Arrays are delimited by square brackets. The different elements of an array are separated by white-spaces.

Examples 2

[1 2 3]   % a simple array with integers
[1 a b]   % a mixed array
[[1 2 3] [4 5 6]] % a 2x3 Matrix defined by nested array

Calculate the dot product of the vectors \([1 2 3]cdot[4 5 6]\)

SLI ] [1 2 3]
SLI [1] [4 5 6]
SLI [2] Dot =


Names are used to create variables and to identify specific SLI objects. If a name is entered, it is immediately executed.

If you want to put a name on the stack without evaluating it, you need to protect it by prepending a shash character (e.g. /a). In this case, the name is called a literal name.

The command def is used to create an associoation between a name an an object.

Example 3

SLI ] /pi 3.1415 def
SLI ] pi
SLI [1] =

The command who gives the list of names which have been defined during the SLI session.

Example 4

Define the variables a and b with values 1 and 2 and calculate a+b

SLI ] /a 1 def
SLI ] /b 2 def
SLI ] a b add
SLI ] =
SLI ] who
Name                     Type                Value
pi                       doubletype          3.1415
a                        integertype         1
b                        integertype         2
Total number of dictionary entries: 3


Strings are sequences of characters, delimited by parenthesis. In SLI, characters are represented by interger numbers, e.g. 97 represents the letter 'a', while 32 represents the space character.

The elements of a string are indexed, starting with zero (0) as the first index.

Matched pairs of parentheses may be used inside strings.

Examples 5

SLI ] (Hello World!) =
Hello World!                                                                    


Procedures are a sequence of SLI commands, enclosed by the delimiters { and }. The delimiters prevent the objects from being executed as you enter them. Rather, they will be executed, when you evaluate the procedure.

Bound to a name, procedures can be used like any builtin SLI command.

Example: Hello World

Print the string Hello World!.

  (Hello World !) =
} def


A dictionary is an associative array. It stores pairs of names and objects, where the name acts as a key to access the object inside the dictionary.

The pairs are delimited by the characters << and >>. Note that the pairs are evaluated during the construction of the dictionary. Thus, literal names have to be used here. The individual name/value pairs have no defined sequential order (unlike a real dictionary where the keys are ordered alphabetically).

Example 6

Create a dictionary which stores named parameters.

SLI ] /parameters << /alpha 1.0 /beta 3.5 /tau 10.0 >> def
SLI ] parameters /tau get =

Example: Showing dictionaries

The command info can be used to examine the contents of a dictionary.

SLI ] parameters info
Name                     Type                Value
alpha                    doubletype          1
beta                     doubletype          3.5
tau                      doubletype          10
Total number of dictionary entries: 3

Object types

There are a number of different object types in SLI. Each type is represented by a literal name (i.e. a name with a prepended slash). Here is a list of the most important types:

|-----------------|-------------------| | /integertype | /doubletype | | /booltype | /stringtype | | /nametype | /literaltype | | /arraytype | /proceduretype | | /modeltype | /dictionarytype | | /ostreamtype | /istreamtype | | /xistreamtype | /trietype |

Getting type information

The command type returns the type-name of the top element of the stack. Note that type removes the element.

The command typeinfo returns the type of an object without popping it off the stack.

Conversion between types

It is possible to perform conversions between types. However, unlike in C or C++ this type conversion is never done implicitly. Some of the conversion operators are inherited from PostScript. Others are special to SLI.

Here, we list the most important conversion operators. Each conversion operator gets one argument which can, in general, be of any type. If the operator is meaningless for a given object, an argument type error is raised.

Command Description cvd Convert a number to a double. cvi Convert a number to an integer. cvs Tries to convert the object to a string. cst Convert a string to an array. cvx Convert an object to an executable object, e.g. string to a procedure, or a literal name to a name. cvlit Convert an object to a literal object, e.g. a procedure to an array or a string to a literal name.