In some languages that involve the same kind of elaboration problems, e.g. Java and C++, the programmer is expected to worry about these ordering problems himself, and it is common to write a program in which an incorrect elaboration order gives surprising results, because it references variables before they are initialized. Ada is designed to be a safe language, and a programmer-beware approach is clearly not sufficient. Consequently, the language provides three lines of defense:
witha unit, then its spec is always elaborated before the unit doing the
with. Similarly, a parent spec is always elaborated before the child spec, and finally a spec is always elaborated before its corresponding body.
Program_Error) is raised.
Let's look at these facilities in more detail. First, the rules for dynamic checking. One possible rule would be simply to say that the exception is raised if you access a variable which has not yet been elaborated. The trouble with this approach is that it could require expensive checks on every variable reference. Instead Ada has two rules which are a little more restrictive, but easier to check, and easier to state:
The idea is that if the body has been elaborated, then any variables it references must have been elaborated; by checking for the body being elaborated we guarantee that none of its references causes any trouble. As we noted above, this is a little too restrictive, because a subprogram that has no non-local references in its body may in fact be safe to call. However, it really would be unsafe to rely on this, because it would mean that the caller was aware of details of the implementation in the body. This goes against the basic tenets of Ada.
A plausible implementation can be described as follows.
A Boolean variable is associated with each subprogram
and each generic unit. This variable is initialized to False, and is set to
True at the point body is elaborated. Every call or instantiation checks the
variable, and raises
Program_Error if the variable is False.
Note that one might think that it would be good enough to have one Boolean
variable for each package, but that would not deal with cases of trying
to call a body in the same package as the call
that has not been elaborated yet.
Of course a compiler may be able to do enough analysis to optimize away
some of the Boolean variables as unnecessary, and
does such optimizations, but still the easiest conceptual model is to
think of there being one variable per subprogram.