Tuesday, May 28, 2024

If I Were in Charge

If I were in charge of Python development, here are a few things I would do:

  • Add (optional) tail recursion. This would make it easier to write pure functional code. It would also make it possible to effectively program in continuation passing style. Making tail recursion optional should placate those that feel that stack traces are important for debugging.
  • Add macros. I am thinking of Lisp-like macros that do code transformation, not C-like macros that simply do token substitution. A good macro system would allow advanced users to create new syntactic forms for the language and provide a way to abstract boilerplate.
  • Allow a way to use statements inside expressions, or beef up the expression syntax to have exception expressions, loop expressions, etc. This, too, would make it easier to write pure functional code.
  • Optional end-of-block markers. These would allow you to automatically fix indentation errors and recover indentation when it is lost.
  • Use true lexical scoping. Changing this might break legacy code that depends on the current scoping quirks, though.
  • Use modern interpretation techniques to get the performance up to a more reasonable level. Performance doesn't matter that much, but Python is notably slow.
  • Get rid of the global interpreter lock so that multithreading works better. Probably easier said than done.

I don't believe any of these necessarily involve fundamental changes to the language. They'd just make the language more flexible, though I'm sure many people would disagree with me.

But, perhaps for the best, they're not going to put me in charge.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Exception Handling for Control Flow

Back when I was taking a Software Engineering course we used a language called CLU. CLU was an early object-oriented language. A feature of CLU was that if you wrote your code correctly, the compiler could enforce completely opaque abstract data types. A good chunk of your grade depended on whether you were able to follow insructions and write your data types so that they were opaque.

CLU did not have polymorphism, but it did have discriminated type unions. You could fake simple polymorphism by using a discriminated type union as the representation of an opaque type. Methods on the opaque type would have to dispatch on the union subtype. Now to implement this correctly, you should write your methods to check the union subtype even if you “know” what it is. The course instructors looked specifically for this and would deduct from your grade if you didn't check.

One subproject in the course was a simple symbolic math system. You could put expressions in at the REPL, substitute values, and differentiate them. The core of the implementation was term data type that represented a node in an expression tree. A term was a type union of numeric constant, a symbolic variable, a unary expression, or a binary expression. Unary and binary expressions recursively contained subterms.

The term data type would therefore need four predicates to determine what kind of term it was. It would also need methods to extract the constant value if it was a constant, extract the variable name if it was symbolic, and extract the operator and subterms if it was a unary or binary expression. The way to use the data type was obvious: you'd have a four-way branch on the kind of term where each branch would immediately call the appropriate selectors. But if you wrote your selectors as you were supposed to, the first thing they should do is check that they are called on the appropriate union subtype. This is a redundant check because you just checked this in the four-way branch. So your code was constantly double checking the data. Furthermore, it has to handle the case should the check fail, even though the check obviously can never fail.

I realized that what I needed was a discrimination function that had four continuations, one for each subtype. The discrimination function would check the subtype and then call the appropriate continuation with the subcomponents of the term. This would eliminate the double checking. The code was still type safe because the discrimination function would only invoke the continuation for the correct subtype.

One way to introduce alternative continuations into the control flow is through exceptions. The discrimination function could raise one of four exceptions, each with the appropriate subcomponents as arguments. The caller would not expect a return value, but would have four catch handlers, one for each subtype. The caller would use the try/except syntax, but it would act like a switch statement.

The TA balked at this use of exceptions, but I appealed to the professor who saw what I was trying to do and approved.

There is some debate about whether exceptions should be used for control flow. Many people think that exceptions should only be used for “exceptional” situations and that it is poor form to use them for normal control flow. I think they are taking too narrow a view. Exceptions are a way to introduce alternative paths of control flow. One can use them to, for instance, handle an exceptional situation by jumping to a handler, but that's not the only way to use them.

Of course you should think hard about whether exceptions are the right way to introduce alternative control flow in your use case. Exception syntax is usually kind of klunky and you may need to rewrite the code to insert the exception handling at the right point. Readers of your code are likely to be surprised or baffled by the use of exceptions for control flow. There is often a significant performance penalty if an exception is thrown. But sometimes it is just the trick.

Saturday, May 25, 2024


Object systems make a natural fit for the game programming domain, but over time people have found that the object-oriented model provided by their favorite language doesn't always fit the use case. So developers have come up with “entity-component systems” (ECS) of varying complexity to fill the gap.

The basic idea is that a game object, called an “entity”, contains or refers to a set of “components” that define its behavior. Entities are too varied to be captured by a single class hierarchy, so we abandon inheritance in favor of composition. An entity that can be displayed on the screen has a “sprite” component, an entity that can move has “position” and “velocity” components, an entity that you can attack has a “hitbox” component and a “health” component. A entity that can attack you has an “attackbox” component. You can play mix and match the components to customize the behavior of the entity. We don't have a hierachy of components because each component can be added more or less independently of the others.

An ECS is an alternative or an augmentation to the built-in object system of a language, but it is an admission that the built-in object is insufficient.

CLOS provides an elegent way to implement an ECS without abandoning CLOS's built-in object system. We define a component as a “mixin” class that can be inherited from using multiple inheritance. We define mixin classes for each component, and then we define entity classes that inherit from the mixin classes. We would define a “sprite” mixin class, a “position” mixin class, etc. So the class of enemy entities would inherit from “sprite”, “position”, “velocity”, “hitbox”, “health”, and “attackbox” classes. A trap entity would inherit from “sprite”, “position”, and “attackbox” classes. A container entity that you could smash open would inherit from “sprite”, “position”, and “hitbox” classes. Etc.

Mixin classes aren't intended to be instantiated on their own, but instead provide slots to the classes that inherits from them. Furthermore, methods can be specialized on mixin classes so that instances derived from the mixin will respond to the method. This allows you to inherit from a mixin providing the particular desired behavior. For example, the “health” mixin class would provide a slot containing the entity's health and a “damage” method to decrease the health. Any entity inheriting from the “health” mixin will react to the damage method. Mixin classes can provide functionality similar to interfaces.

Mixin classes are an exception to Liskov's Substitution Principle, but they are a useful exception. Entities that inherit from a mixin do not have a “is-a” relationship with the mixin, but rather a “has-behavior-of” relationship. An entity inheriting from the “health” mixin is not a “health”, but it has the “health” behavior.

One feature of an ECS is that you can dynamically change the components of an object. For example, once an enemy is defeated, you can remove the “health” and “attackbox” components and add a “corpse” component. Is CLOS you could accomplish this by changing the class of the entity object to a class that doesn't have those mixins.

Of course care must be taken or you will end up with CLOS “soup”. But if you are careful, CLOS can provide a powerful and flexible system for implementing an ECS.

Friday, May 24, 2024

Why I Want Tail Recursion

The reason I want tail recursion is not to write loops (I can do that with a while loop), but to write in continuation passing style if I need to. Continuation passing style allows you to implement any control flow pattern you can imagine, not just the ones intrinsic to the language. You don’t want to use it all the time, but it’s a valuable fallback when you need some ad hoc advanced control flow. Without tail recursion, any non-trivial use of continuation passing style risks blowing the stack.

Iteration is just the special case of linear recursion that doesn’t accumulate state. 99 percent of the time, you know beforehand that you are looping and can use a looping construct, but sometimes you have the general case where whether you loop or not depends on the data at runtime. If you have tail recursion, you just write the code recursively and the tail recursion mechanism will turn it into a loop if it notices that you aren’t accumulating state.

If your language has lambda and tail recursion, it can implement any other control flow that might have been overlooked by the language designer. If it doesn’t, you're limited to the control flow the language designer bothered to implement.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Rewrite rules

I like rewrite rules. They are simple to understand and easy to implement. If you have a rewrite rule (or a set of them) that makes incremental progress in making an expression "simpler" in some sense, you can keep applying it (or them) repeatedly until you have finished the calculation.

If a function directly returns the result of calling another function, we say that the call is in "tail position". We can view this as a simple rewrite rule. Consider the fact-mul function which computes the factorial of a number n and multiplies it by another number m:

fact-mul (n, m) = n! * m

We can define two rewrite rules for this function. If n is 0, then the factorial is 1, so we just rewrite this as m. If n is not 0, we can rewrite this as fact-mul (n-1, n*m). This translates directly into Lisp:

(defun fact-mul (n m)
  (if (zerop n)
     (fact-mul (- n 1) (* n m))))

The rewrite rule doesn't have to rewrite into the same function. For instance, we can rewrite odd? (x) to even? (x-1) and even? (x) to odd? (x-1):

(defun odd? (x)
  (if (zerop x)
      (even? (1- x))))

(defun even? (x)
  (if (zerop x)
      (odd? (1- x))))

Yes, this is bog-simple tail recursion, but somehow it seems even simpler to me if I think of it as a rewrite rule.

Even if you don't have tail recursion, or if you have disabled it, it still works, but the number of rewrites is limited by the stack depth.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

If only ...

I have a problem with Lisp. It doesn’t do what I want. Whenever I write a Lisp program, I always find myself wanting new special forms that aren’t in the language. The object system almost never does exactly what I want. The control structures never cover all my use cases.

If only I could add new syntactic forms to the language. If only I could tweak the internals of the object system. If only I could add new kinds of control structure.

Oh, wait. I can.

Monday, May 20, 2024

Maybe machine (part 2)

At the end of 6.004, we had a contest for improving the performance of the Maybe machine. There was an 8-bit ALU included in the chip set we were given, so the logical thing to do was to incorporate it into the machine in place of the shift register. This would naturally improve the performance of arithmetic operations, but there were other reasons that the Maybe machine was slow.

One of the rules of the contest was that we were not allowed to change the clock speed. But the Maybe machine had a four phase clock. The first phase would address the device driving the bus, the second phase would connect it to the bus, the third phase would clock the receiving device, and the fourth phase would keep the data asserted to obey the hold time on the logic.

The four phase clock was technically unnecessary. We had built it in this manner to illustrate set-up and hold times for the bus, but the TTL chips we were using were specifically designed to be used on an open collector bus with no hold time, so you could actually clock the bus on every other phase rather than divide by four and still be within valid hardware specs. The fundamental clock speed was not changed, but the machine would run twice as fast.

The microcode word on the Maybe machine had four parts. The first part loaded the shift register from memory. The second part operated on the shift register. The third part wrote the shift register back to memory, and the fourth part was the next microcode address. But much of a typical microinstruction was wasted time. More often than not, the shift register was loaded from the last location it was written to, so it already contained the data it needed. The load cycle was often unnecessary. If you just left the data in the shift register, it would already be there for the next instruction. A memory to memory move involved a no-op on the shift register, which took clock cycles. Advancing to the next instruction took more clock cycles.

Instead of a four part microinstruction, I made a one-part microinstruction. True, this meant that I would occasionally need more microinstructions, but each one was smaller, and I could omit the no-ops, so I could accomplish the same amount in fewer clock cycles. I eliminated the next-instruction field by replacing the microcode address register with a counter.

The original Maybe machine had a two-address microcode — each instruction would specify a separate load and store address. Most people retained the wide microcode and could specify each input to the ALU independently. But I wanted to squeeze each microinstruction into 16 bits, so I turned the machine into a one-address machine with an accumulator. This made my microcode one quarter of the size, but it made it difficult to find enough bits in the microcode to accomplish all the tasks it needed to do. I didn’t have enough bits to directly address the accumulator, so I attached the accumulator to the output of the ALU. One ALU input came from the bus, the other was fed back from the accumulator. To load the accumulator, you had to pass the data through the ALU.

There weren’t enough bits for jump instructions, but I did a hack: I incremented the instruction address half way through the instruction cycle. This way, you could read the bits of the next instruction while you were still executing the current instruction. So you could do an unconditional jump by placing the target in the next instruction. There still weren’t enough bits for a conditional jump, so the microcode address space ended up being partitioned into sixteen segments and you could only conditionally jump within the same segment. To jump between segments you had to use an unconditional jump.

I obviously had to do a complete rewrite of the microcode. My friend Bob Baldwin helped me out by writing an assembler for the new microinstruction format.

The new microcode ran substantially faster than the original. When the contest came, my machine was clearly faster than the competition. Unfortunately, it crashed on the third benchmark and I ended up disqualified. I think it was a bug involving switching between the segments of microcode, but I never had the opportunity to debug it fully. I learned a hard lesson about keeping things simple.

Maybe machine

When I took 6.004, Computation Structures, we built the “Maybe” machine, a pedagogical microcomputer made from discrete TTL. It had no CPU. It had no ALU. It had a shift register. The microcode could load the shift register from memory, test the low bit, shift the register, and store the register to memory. That was it. It was universal (Turing complete), but it was primitive. If I recall correctly, Steve Ward, Chris Terman, and Dan Nussbaum designed it.

We each built our own Maybe machine on a “nerd kit” — a large briefcase/small suitcase with a power supply, some solderless breadboards, some switches and LEDs, and a bunch of TTL chips. We had to wire up the chips ourselves. I was maybe a bit anal about wiring it up. I color coded the wires, made neat right angle bends, and ran the wires in parallel in the troughs between the breadboards. But when it came to testing the gates, this made it easier to find the wires that had ended up in the wrong place.

When we were building it, we had a test PROM with microcode that would just exercise the logic gates. It had no functional program in it. If the gates were wired correctly, certain patterns would appear on the LEDs.

At last I had it all wired up. Each gate responded appropriately to the test PROM. I double checked to make sure I ran each and every test. I was ready to try the real microcode now. I put my EEPROM under the UV light to erase it, and then programmed it with the microcode. I verified that the PROM contained the correct bits. I popped the PROM into the socket, and powered up the machine. Nothing. The machine did not display the expected pattern of LEDS. It didn’t display anything. Crap.

I erased the EEPROM and reprogrammed it as a test PROM again. I ran all the tests to find which one was failing. All passed. I ran them again. Everything checked out. I started to think maybe a loose wire? I ran the tests again and wiggled the wires. The tests still passed.

Confused, I erased the EEPROM and reprogrammed it with the microcode. I put it back in the Maybe machine and powered it up. Nothing. I was stumped. I had no idea what was wrong. I tried wiggling the wires. I tried wiggling the chips. Nothing.

I reprogrammed the test PROM. Each reprogramming of the test PROM took at least 15 minutes as I waited for the UV light to erase the old program and then wrote in the new one. I verified one last time that all the tests ran correctly and went to consult the TA.

The TA had heard it all before. Some freshman can’t follow instructions, wires it up wrong, and is sloppy about running the tests. He was going to demonstrate the right way to thoroughly test the machine. He had a checklist of each and every test. He was going to exhaustively go through the checklist and tally each one as he went. He was going to show me how to do it right.

He was a little surprised that he didn’t find the problem right away. As each test passed, be became more and more puzzled. Finally, he got to the end of his checklist and every test had passed. So he programmed the microcode into the EEPROM and powered up the machine. Nothing.

Ok, it was a challege. The machine made him look foolish in front of this lower classman. He was going to find the problem. He reprogrammed the test PROM and ran the tests again. As he ran each test, he’d wiggle the wiring and the chips involved in the functional unit being tested. Everything was in order. But when he put in the microcode ROM, everything was dead.

We went through a couple of cycles of this, but it was getting to be dinner time so we decided to call it a night. I could only think that I was going to have to rewire the whole thing from scratch. I was dreading it. I headed back to my dorm room.


It was odd that when you tried to run the microcode, although you didn’t get the expected pattern of LEDs, they did briefly flicker when you powered up the machine. The instruction after loading the LEDs was a conditional branch to itself. The LEDs would be loaded and then stay on until the conditional became true when the user pressed a button. It was almost as if the conditional was taken immediately rather than waiting for the button press. Maybe the conditional was backwards? If the conditional were backwards, the LEDs would flicker because they’d be loaded and the mahine would immediately branch.

When I got to my dorm room, I opened the nerd kit and checked. Sure enough, the conditional was wired to the inverted output of a flip-flop. Every conditional branch would be taken the wrong way. The non-inverted output was the next hole over. The test PROM checked that the wire was connected, but didn’t check that it was connected to the positive sense of the conditional bit.

The next day, I went back to the lab with the fix. I reprogrammed the EEPROM with the microcode and powered up the machine. The LEDs lit up in the expected pattern and the machine ran as expected.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Readability at Google

Over the years I was a developer at Google I never once tried to pass “readability” for any language. If you didn’t have “readability”, then any code you checked in would need an additionally review by someone who did have “readability”. The theory was that the code base would turn into an unreadable patchwork of different styles if everyone didn't adhere to the same set of rules. By having a “readability” requirement, the code base would be uniform and understandable. In practice, however, it was a social signal that indicated whether you were a card carrying member of the “in” group or not. Having “readability” meant you were a nobleman. Not having it meant you were a commoner.

To get “readability” you had to endure a struggle session with a current holder of “readability”. You would submit a not insubstantial amount of code for review and the reviewer would go over it with a fine-tooth comb pointing out every little syntactic rule you broke. It was a game of gotcha designed to make the reviewer feel smarter than you. You’d then return to your office or cubicle, make changes and iterate. If you were lucky, you would only need two or three iterations before you were bestowed with “readability”. The point was not to demonstrate that you knew how to write readable code, but to demonstrate that you were willing to submit to the authority of the reviewer and follow a set of arbitrary rules, no matter how absurd. It was a hazing ritual, a way to show that you were willing to be a team player.

A problem with having “readability” was that you were expected to uphold the “readability” guidelines. Not only did you have to play the game, you had to perpetuate it. I disagreed with a lot of the guidelines because they were poorly thought out rules for the sake of having rules. There were many situations in which they would reduce the comprehensibility of the code. By not having “readability”, I was free to write code that was easier to understand and maintain, even if bent or broke the codified rules.

This isn’t to say that I ignored Google’s style. It is hard to understand code that switches styles every few lines. I tried to make my code fit in to the surrounding code and look like it was part of it. I wrote new files with same general layout, curly brace conventions, and indentation that a typical Google file has. I didn’t worry about following “readability” guidelines at all, but I didn’t flout the guidelines either. I more concerned about my code being comprehended by the next developer than following a set of ad hoc rules to the letter.

So I got used to submitting my code for “readability” review, in addition to the normal code review. I off-loaded the entire responsibility of “readability” to the reviewer and let them tell me what to do. I didn’t argue with them. I simply followed the directions of the reviewer and made whatever changes were suggested. Often, though, changes to the code to more strictly follow the guidelines would result in noticeably worse code and the reviewers would soon withdraw their suggestions.

Another problem of being a nobleman with “readability” is that you had the obligation to review the code written by the commoners. The people with “readability” was a small enough group that they soon became the bottleneck in the review process. They were constantly overworked with code reviews. We commoners, on the other hand, weren’t expected to review code. Nor were we to blame if someone else is holding up the code review.

Frankly, I didn’t see any upside of having “readability” and many downsides. I was able to get my code checked in without too much trouble and I just didn’t have the time or inclination to get involved in the high-school politics of “readability”. Plenty of other companies do not have a “readability” ritual. They seem to get along just fine by hiring people who can write code that is easy to understand and maintain.

Friday, May 10, 2024

The Way of Lisp or The Right Thing

Interpreting Richard Gabriel with a nod to Tim Peters

Keep it simple.
A simple interface is better than a simple implementation.
Complete is better than simple.
Consistent is better than complete.
Correctness trumps all. Incorrectness is simply not allowed.
If the interface is hard to use, it is probably a bad idea.
If the interface is easy to use, it may be a good idea.
A weak language makes it hard to write good code, but a powerful language makes it easy to write bad code that looks good.
The first thing that comes to mind is not always the best thing.
When performance matters, get your declarations right.
There is always another way to do it, and maybe a better one.
Lists aren’t the only data type.
The right thing and 2 shillings will get you a cup of tea.

Monday, May 6, 2024

Motion without Integration

A game where things move around has equations of motion that describe how objects move. We need to solve these to produce the locations of the objects as a function of time, and we have to do it in lock step real time. Fortunately, we usually don’t need highly realistic models or highly accurate results. Game phyiscs, while inspired by real world physics, can be crude approximations.

If the velocity of an object changes over time, we need to integrate the velocity to determine the position. This is typically done with forward Euler integration: the current velocity is multiplied by a small Δt and this is added to the current position. In other words, we assume the object moves linearly over the amount of time represented by Δt. If Δt is small enough, the linear segments of motion will approximate the actual curve of motion.

In a game, we use the game loop, which runs every few milliseconds, as our source of time. We subtract the current time from the previous time the game loop was run to obtain our Δt. We update each object’s state using forward Euler integration over Δt.

Our game loop keeps track of the last time it was run and subtracts that from the current time. It runs entity-step! on each entity in the game, passing in dticks.

(let ((start-tick (sdl2:get-ticks)))
  (let ((last-tick start-tick))
      (let* ((tick (- (sdl2:get-ticks) start-tick))
             (dticks (- tick last-tick)))
        (map nil (lambda (entity)
                   (entity-step! entity dticks))
        (setq last-tick tick)))))

entity-step! performs our forward Euler integration:

(defun entity-step! (entity dticks)
  (incf (position entity) (* (velocity entity) dticks)))

Assuming the game loop runs reasonably frequently, the position of the entity will be a reasonable approximation of the integral of the velocity. If the game loop gets delayed for some reason, e.g. garbage collection, the corresponding increase in the value of dticks will make up for it.

But sometimes we have the fortune of having a closed form solution to the time integral. If this is the case, we can compute the entity’s state directly and we don’t need to integrate the state changes on every iteration of the game loop. Let me give two examples.

In the platformer game, there are potions that the player can take to restore his health. A potion appears as a vial that floats above the ground. A “bobbing” effect is achieved by changing the height above the ground in a time varying manner. Now we could implement this by having the game loop modify the y position of the potion on each iteration, but there is a closed form solution. We can compute the y position at any time by adding a constant base y position to a factor of the sine of the current time. This is easily done by specializing the get-y method on potions:

;;; Make potions bob up and down.
(defmethod get-y ((object potion))
  (+ (call-next-method)
     (* 5 (sin (* 2 pi (/ (sdl2:get-ticks) 1000))))))

call-next-method invokes the next most specific method — in this case, the get-y method of the entity class, which returns the base y position. We add a sine wave based on the current time.

This is only thing we need to modify to make a potion bob up and down. Values dependent on the y position, such as the attackbox, will bob up and down with the potion because it uses the get-y method to determine what the potion is.

A second example is cannonball motion. Cannonballs travel linearly away from the cannon at a constant velocity. Rather than stepping the cannonball by adding its velocity to its position on each update, we specialize the get-x method on cannonballs

(defmethod get-x ((cannonball cannonball))
  (+ (call-next-method)
     (* (get-speed cannonball)
        (- (sdl2:get-ticks) (get-start-tick cannonball)))))

If we specialize both the get-x and get-y methods we can easily get objects to trace out any desired parametric curve, like a Lissajous figure.

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Animation: Two Methods

Animated sprites are much cooler that static ones and really make your game come to life. They are pretty easy to implement, but there are a couple of ways to implement them, and I've seen several projects use the less optimal strategy.

The less optimal strategy is straightforward. We keep a time counter in the animated entity and increment it every time we update the entity. When the counter exceeds the amount of time for an animation frame, we advance to the next frame and reset the ticker.

(defclass entity ()
  ((animation-ticker :initform 0 :accessor animation-ticker)))

(defun entity-step! (entity dticks)
  (incf (animation-ticker entity) dticks)
  (when (> (animation-ticker entity) ticks-per-frame)
    (advance-to-next-frame! entity)
    (decf (animation-ticker entity) ticks-per-frame)))

Now this works, but the reason it is less optimal is that it involves maintaining time varying state in the entity. Recall that the game has two primary threads running: a render thread which runs 60 times a second and draws the game on the screen, and an game loop thread which runs maybe 200 times a second and updates the state of the entities in the game. The point of this is to separate and abstract the drawing of the game from the running of the mechanics of the game. By using this less optimal method, we involve the game loop thread in maintaining state that is used only by the render thead. To anthromorphize, the entity “knows” that it is animated and is taking an active role in keeping things moving.

A better way is to put the responsibility of animation solely within the render thread by having it select which animation frame to display when it draws the sprite. The sprite contains a vector of animation frames and a timestamp at which the animation was started. When redrawing the sprite, the elapsed time is computed by subtracting the start timestamp from the current time, and the frame to display is computed by dividing the elapsed time by the time per frame modulo the length of the frame vector.

(defclass animation ()
  ((start-tick :initform (get-ticks) :reader start-tick)
   (frames :initarg frames :reader frames)))

(defun display-animation! (animation)
   (let* ((elapsed-time (- (get-ticks) (start-tick animation)))
          (absolute-frame (floor elapsed-time ticks-per-frame))
          (frame (mod absolute-frame (length (frames animation)))))
     (display-frame! (svref (frames animation) frame))))

This way of doing it no longer needs time varying state, and we’ve abstracted the display of the animation from the handling of the entity’s state. The entity no longer has to “know” that it is animated or do anything about it. There no longer has to be communication between the game loop thread and the render thread on every animation frame. This could be important if the render thread is running on a different machine than the game loop thread. If the game loop thread lags (maybe because of garbage collection or entering the error handler), we still get smooth animation.