GOLD Methods

All GOLD methods receive a first argument holding the object. By convention, that variable is named i (but you could call it self, or this, if you prefer).

More About Constructor Methods

Recall that GOLD methods are functions with two upper case letters. Each method has to start with a class name. Also, GOLD constructors are functions with the same name as the class.

Constructor methods call the constructor of the super class methods. Each recursive call adds more attributes into an objects. For example, a call to Sym creates an object with oid,isa,n,pos,txt,w,mode,most,ent,ignore,counts.

# this function is a 
# built-in for GOLD
function new(i) { split("",i,"") }

# this constuctor is a 
# built-in for GOLD
function Object(i)   { 
  i["isa"] = "Object"
  i["oid"] = ++OID 

function Col(i,pos,txt,w) {
   # this isa resets 
   # i.isa to "Col"
   i.n   = 0
   i.txt = txt
   i.w   = w
   i.pos = pos="" ? 1 : pos

function Num(i,pos,txt,w) {
  # this isa resets 
  # i.isa to "Num"
  i.hi  = -1e32
  i.lo  =  1e32 = i.m2 = = 0

function Sym(i,pos,txt,w) {
  # this isa resets 
  # i.isa to "Sym"
  i.mode = ""
  i.most = 0
  i.ent =""

Note two other aspects of the above code.

  • Firsly, arguments can be passed to super class constructors:
    • For example, note how a call to Sym(i,pos,txt,w) passes those arguments to `Col(i,pos,txt,w).
  • Secondly, all the calls to super constructors are wrapped in isa.
    • This function calls the parent constructor then, after it returns, sets i.isa to the name of the current class constructor.


In GOLD, any call to @Fun (where the first letter of Fun is uppercase) is treated as polymorphic method call. For the call @Fun(i,j,k,...):

  • GOLD looks at the isa field of the first argument (which, in this case, is “i”);
  • If i.isa="Sym" (say), then this call becomes SayFun(i,j,k...).

For example, here are two definitions of Add (and note that Add is different to Num and Sym):

function NumAdd(i,x,          delta) {
  x    += 0 # ensure "x" is a number
  i.n  += 1
  i.lo  = x < i.lo ? x : i.lo
  i.hi  = x > i.hi ? x : i.hi
  delta = x - += delta/i.n
  i.m2 += delta*(x - = (i.m2/(i.n-0.99999999))^0.5
  return x

function SymAdd(i,x,   tmp) {
  if( x == i.ignore ) return x
  tmp = i.counts[x] = i.counts[x] + 1
  if(tmp > i.mode) {   
    i.most = tmp
    i.mode = x
  return  x

The following code includes a polymorphic indirect function call (see @Add). Note that the _thing function is called twice: once for Num and once for Sym which leads to the generation of different objects (see the called to @thing(t)). The @Add call executes different methods (SymAdd or NumAdd), depending on what kind of object is being processed.

function _thing(thing, t,lst,s,j,k) {
   s=" 9 2 5 4 12 7 8 11 9 3" \
     " 7 4 12 5 4 10 9 6 9 4"
   split(s, lst, " ")
   for(j=1; j<=10^4;j++) {
     for(k in lst)

Method Inheritance

Recall that constructor methods wrap the call to super class constructors in the isa function. As a side effect of the call, GOLD maintains a table


For example, if we used the above constructors to build a Sym instance then GOLD would know:

ISA["Sym"] = "Col"
ISA["Col"] = "Object"

Using that information, GOLD’s polymorphic method lookup procedure implements method inheritance. In the following code:

  • We are looking for a method “f” inside some object “i”, where k=i.isa.
  • If we can not find a function “k f” inside the list of known functions (which GAWK stores in FUNCTAB)
    • Then we jump up to the super class of “i”.
function my(i,f,    k,m) {
  k = i["isa"]
  while(k) {
    m = k f
    if (m in FUNCTAB) {
        MY = m  # MY is the result
        return ""
    k = ISA[k]
  print "E> failed method lookup on ["f"]";
  exit 1

GOLD using my as follows. Polymorphic methods calls in *.gold files like this:

function _some(f,    s,j) {

are converted into the following (in an associated *.awk file). Note that @Add (in the above) is converted to @MY (where @MY is set by the call (my(s,"Add")).

function _some(f,    s,j) {