Chez Scheme Version 8.1 Release Notes
Copyright © 2010 Cadence Research Systems
All Rights Reserved
November 2010

1. Overview

This document outlines the changes made to Chez Scheme for Version 8.1 since Version 8.0, most of which are focused on converting Chez Scheme into an implementation of the new Scheme standard described in the Revised6 Report on Scheme.

Version 8.1 is available for the following platforms. The Chez Scheme machine type (returned by the machine-type procedure) is given in parentheses.

This will likely be the last release to support the machine types marked with an asterisk (*).

This document contains three sections describing significant (1) functionality changes, (2) bugs fixed, and (3) performance enhancements. A version number listed in parentheses in the header for a change indicates the first minor release or internal prerelease to support the change. Many other changes, too numerous to list, have been made to improve reliability, performance, and the quality of error messages and source information produced by the system.

More information on Chez Scheme and Petite Chez Scheme can be found at, and extensive documentation is available in The Scheme Programming Language, 4th edition (available directly from MIT Press or from online and local retailers) and the Chez Scheme Version 8 User's Guide. Online versions of both books can be found at

2. Functionality Changes

2.1. New export forms (8.1)

Three new export forms have been added:

(export <export-spec> ...)
(implicit-exports <boolean>)
(indirect-export id indirect-id ...)

Each of these forms is a definition. The first two can appear only within the definitions of a module or library; the third can appear anywhere other definitions can appear.

The export form causes the identifiers specified by each export-spec to be exports of the enclosing module or library. An export-spec is one of:

|(rename (old identifier new identifier) ...)
|(import import-spec ...)

The first two are syntactically identical to the R6RS library export form export-specs, while the third is syntactically identical to a Chez Scheme import form, which is an extension of the R6RS library import subform. If the export-spec is an identifier, that identifier becomes an export of the enclosing library or module. If it is a rename form, the bindings of the old identifiers become exports under the new identifier names. If it is an import form, the imported identifiers become exports, with aliasing, renaming, prefixing, etc., as specified by the import-specs.

The module or library whose bindings are exported by an import form appearing within an export form can be defined within or outside the exporting module or library and need need not be imported elsewhere within the exporting module or library.

The implicit-exports form determines whether identifiers that are not directly exported from a module or library are automatically indirectly exported to the top level if any meta-binding (keyword, meta definition, or property definition) is directly exported from a library or module to top level. The default for libraries is #t, to match the behavior required by the R6RS, while the default for modules is #f, to match the behavior of previous versions of Chez Scheme. The implicit-exports form is meaningful only within a library, top-level module, or module enclosed within a library or top-level module. It is allowed but ignored in a module enclosed within a lambda, let, or similar body, because none of that module's bindings can be exported to top level.

The advantage of (implicit-exports #t) is that indirect exports need not be listed explicitly, which is convenient. One disadvantage is that it might result in more bindings than necessary being elevated to top level where they cannot be discarded as useless by the optimizer. For modules, another, often significant, disadvantage is such bindings cannot be proven immutable, which inhibits important optimizations such as procedure inlining.

Finally, the indirect-export form declares that the named indirect-ids are indirectly exported to top level if id is exported to top level. It is meaningful only within a top-level library, top-level module, or module enclosed within a library or top-level module. It is allowed anywhere else definitions can appear, however, so macros that expand into indirect export forms can be used in any definition context.

2.2. Change in import import-only (8.1)

In previous versions, an import or import-only form with multiple subforms is treated the same as a sequence of import or import-only forms. For import, the consequences of this are that a module name visible in the scope of the import form and reference by one of its subforms can be shadowed by the imports of an earlier subform. For import-only the consequences are (1) a module name referenced in the second or a subsequent subform must be imported via the preceding subform, and (b) only the bindings imported by the last subform are visible in the rest of the body in which the import-only form appears.

In Version 8.1, all of the module names referenced by any of the subforms are scoped where the import or import-only form appears. Furthermore, for import-only, all (and only) the imports specified by the entire set of subforms are visible where the import-only form appears. This simplifies the task of creating a limited local scope from multiple libraries and modules.

If the old behavior is desired, a macro that expands into a sequence of import forms can be used, e.g.:

(define-syntax import*
  (syntax-rules ()
    [(_ subform ...) (begin (import subform) ...)]))

2.3. Improved support for define-property (8.1)

When properties attached to the same identifier with different keys are imported from different modules or libraries, all of the properties are now visible. For example, if library (L1) attaches a car property to cons and reexports cons, while library (L2) attaches a cdr property to cons and reexports cons, and both (L1) and (L2) are imported, the car and cdr properties are both available to a macro within the scope of the imports.

Also, indirect exports declared for an imported and reexported identifier given a property via define-property in a library or top-level module are now indirectly exported to top level when the identifier is exported to top level, even though indirect exports are normally ignored for reexported bindings.

Finally, an identifier that is made the alias of another identifier via import or alias forms now has the same properties as the aliased identifier at the point where the alias occurs, although properties subsequently defined for either identifier do not affect the other.

2.4. Improved library-group support (8.1)

The library-group now handles "synthetic cycles" involving static dependencies. For example, if library (C) depends on library (B), and library (B) depends on library (A), putting libraries (A) and (C) but not (B) into a library group creates a "synthetic cycle" involving the library group and the separate library (B). Previously, such cycles resulted in cyclic dependency errors.

2.5. Improved top-level begin library support (8.1)

When multiple libraries and top-level programs appear in a top-level begin form, the expander now delays the invocation of each library until just before it is actually needed. Previously, all libraries not defined in the same top-level begin form were invoked before any of the forms in the begin were evaluated, which sometimes led to undefined library or cyclic dependency errors.

2.6. Fewer import dependencies (8.1)

Libraries imported only locally in code compiled to a file no longer show up as import dependencies for the compiled code, reducing load-time overhead for the compiled code and eliminating the need to distribute some libraries with the compiled code. If a library's exported identifiers need to be visible when the compiled code is subsequently loaded, the library should be imported explicitly at top level. This change affects only code defined outside of a library or RNRS top-level program.

2.7. No longer using the SIGCHLD signal (8.1)

In previous versions of Chez Scheme, processes created under Unix-based operating systems by the process and open-process-ports procedures were reaped via a SIGCHLD interrupt handler. In Version 8.1, such processes are instead reaped by the garbage collector, and the system no longer sets up a SIGCHLD handler. This allows programs to set up their own handlers without interfering with the reaping of those created by process and open-process-ports. It also eliminates a potential race condition involving the system procedure or foreign procedures that create and wait for subprocesses after first disabling the SIGCHLD interrupt.

2.8. top-level-syntax generalization (8.1)

The top-level-syntax procedure now returns a binding for any bound identifier, even if it is defined as a variable, and top-level-syntax? returns true for all bound identifiers. Thus, it is now possible to transfer the compile-time binding of any identifier to another, regardless of the type of binding.

2.9. NetBSD x86/x86_64 support (8.1)

Support for running Chez Scheme with 32-bit pointers on the i386 architecture or 64-bit pointers on the x86_64 architecture under NetBSD has been added, with machine types i3nb (32-bit), a6nb (64-bit), ti3nb (32-bit threaded), and ta6nb (64-bit threaded). C code intended to be linked with these versions of the system should be compiled using the Gnu C compiler's -m32 or -m64 options as appropriate.

2.10. Now using msvcr100.dll (8.1)

Windows builds of Chez Scheme now link against msvcr100.dll. Static libraries built using the corresponding libcmt are also available. With the current Microsoft C compiler tools, manifests are no longer required or recommended and so are no longer recorded with the DLLs and executables.

3. Bug Fixes

3.1. define-record-type and undefined rcd/rtd set (8.1)

A bug that sometimes resulted in an unexported-identifier exception for rtd or rcd when a record type defined via define-record-type and exported by a top-level module or module defined at the top level of a library was used as the parent for another record type defined outside of the module or library has been fixed.

3.2. Incorrect error messages with source-directories set (8.1)

A bug that caused the incorrect (and useless) message "filename not found in source directories" when a syntax error occurred in a file loaded via load, load-library, or load-program while source-directories was set to something other than (".") or ("") has been fixed.

3.3. Bug in record-constructor (8.1)

A bug that caused certain record constructors for records with parents who themselves have parents and user-defined protocols to produce an "incorrect number of arguments" error has been fixed. [This bug dated back to Version 7.5.]

3.4. Bug in string-titlecase (8.1)

A bug that resulted in string-titlecase causing an invalid memory reference when passed a string containing a sequence of two or more digits has been fixed. [This bug dated back to Version 7.5.]

3.5. Bug in exp (8.1)

A bug in exp that caused it to return incorrect results for large inputs, including +inf.0, has been fixed. The same bug also caused some problems with expt and possibly with certain other mathematical operations that use exp internally. [This bug dated back to Version 4.0.]

3.6. Missing check in (rnrs) case (8.1)

Non-pair unparenthesized keys are now properly rejected by the version of case exported by the (rnrs base) and (rnrs) libraries. [This bug dated back to Version 7.5.]

3.7. Missing check in fxvector-set! (8.1)

fxvector-set! now properly checks to make sure its third (new value) argument is a fixnum. [This bug dated back to Version 7.3.]

3.8. Engine space leak (8.1)

A bug that caused the engine system to retain inaccessible continuations has been fixed.

4. Performance Enhancements

4.1. Better arithmetic support (8.1)

The fx* procedure is now inlined even outside of optimize-level 3 on x86 and x86_64 processors, and a slight improvement has been made in the efficiency of generic arithmetic operators when passed non-fixnum arguments.

4.2. Slightly faster type checks (8.1)

Reduced by one instruction the cost of vector? and certain other type checks. This is unlikely to have measurable impact on most programs.