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3.9.2 Dispatching Operations of Tagged Types

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The primitive subprograms of a tagged type, the subprograms declared by formal_abstract_subprogram_declarations, and the stream attributes of a specific tagged type that are available (see 13.13.2) at the end of the declaration list where the type is declared are called dispatching operations. A dispatching operation can be called using a statically determined controlling tag, in which case the body to be executed is determined at compile time. Alternatively, the controlling tag can be dynamically determined, in which case the call dispatches to a body that is determined at run time; such a call is termed a dispatching call. As explained below, the properties of the operands and the context of a particular call on a dispatching operation determine how the controlling tag is determined, and hence whether or not the call is a dispatching call. Run-time polymorphism is achieved when a dispatching operation is called by a dispatching call.

Static Semantics

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A call on a dispatching operation is a call whose name or prefix denotes the declaration of a dispatching operation. A controlling operand in a call on a dispatching operation of a tagged type T is one whose corresponding formal parameter is of type T or is of an anonymous access type with designated type T; the corresponding formal parameter is called a controlling formal parameter. If the controlling formal parameter is an access parameter, the controlling operand is the object designated by the actual parameter, rather than the actual parameter itself. If the call is to a (primitive) function with result type T, then the call has a controlling result — the context of the call can control the dispatching. Similarly, if the call is to a function with access result type designating T, then the call has a controlling access result, and the context can similarly control dispatching.
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A name or expression of a tagged type is either statically tagged, dynamically tagged, or tag indeterminate, according to whether, when used as a controlling operand, the tag that controls dispatching is determined statically by the operand's (specific) type, dynamically by its tag at run time, or from context. A qualified_expression or parenthesized expression is statically, dynamically, or indeterminately tagged according to its operand. For other kinds of names and expressions, this is determined as follows: 
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A type_conversion is statically or dynamically tagged according to whether the type determined by the subtype_mark is specific or class-wide, respectively. For an object that is designated by an expression whose expected type is an anonymous access-to-specific tagged type, the object is dynamically tagged if the expression, ignoring enclosing parentheses, is of the form X'Access, where X is of a class-wide type, or is of the form new T'(...), where T denotes a class-wide subtype. Otherwise, the object is statically or dynamically tagged according to whether the designated type of the type of the expression is specific or class-wide, respectively. 

Legality Rules

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A call on a dispatching operation shall not have both dynamically tagged and statically tagged controlling operands. 
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If the expected type for an expression or name is some specific tagged type, then the expression or name shall not be dynamically tagged unless it is a controlling operand in a call on a dispatching operation. Similarly, if the expected type for an expression is an anonymous access-to-specific tagged type, then the object designated by the expression shall not be dynamically tagged unless it is a controlling operand in a call on a dispatching operation. 
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 In the declaration of a dispatching operation of a tagged type, everywhere a subtype of the tagged type appears as a subtype of the profile (see 6.1), it shall statically match the first subtype of the tagged type. If the dispatching operation overrides an inherited subprogram, it shall be subtype conformant with the inherited subprogram. The convention of an inherited dispatching operation is the convention of the corresponding primitive operation of the parent or progenitor type. The default convention of a dispatching operation that overrides an inherited primitive operation is the convention of the inherited operation; if the operation overrides multiple inherited operations, then they shall all have the same convention. An explicitly declared dispatching operation shall not be of convention Intrinsic. 
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 The default_expression for a controlling formal parameter of a dispatching operation shall be tag indeterminate. 
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   If a dispatching operation is defined by a subprogram_renaming_declaration or the instantiation of a generic subprogram, any access parameter of the renamed subprogram or the generic subprogram that corresponds to a controlling access parameter of the dispatching operation, shall have a subtype that excludes null.
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A given subprogram shall not be a dispatching operation of two or more distinct tagged types. 
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The explicit declaration of a primitive subprogram of a tagged type shall occur before the type is frozen (see 13.14). For example, new dispatching operations cannot be added after objects or values of the type exist, nor after deriving a record extension from it, nor after a body.

Dynamic Semantics

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For the execution of a call on a dispatching operation of a type T, the controlling tag value determines which subprogram body is executed. The controlling tag value is defined as follows: 
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 For the execution of a call on a dispatching operation, the action performed is determined by the properties of the corresponding dispatching operation of the specific type identified by the controlling tag value. If the corresponding operation is explicitly declared for this type, even if the declaration occurs in a private part, then the action comprises an invocation of the explicit body for the operation. If the corresponding operation is implicitly declared for this type:
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NOTES
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72  The body to be executed for a call on a dispatching operation is determined by the tag; it does not matter whether that tag is determined statically or dynamically, and it does not matter whether the subprogram's declaration is visible at the place of the call.
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73  This subclause covers calls on dispatching subprograms of a tagged type. Rules for tagged type membership tests are described in 4.5.2. Controlling tag determination for an assignment_statement is described in 5.2.
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74  A dispatching call can dispatch to a body whose declaration is not visible at the place of the call.
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75  A call through an access-to-subprogram value is never a dispatching call, even if the access value designates a dispatching operation. Similarly a call whose prefix denotes a subprogram_renaming_declaration cannot be a dispatching call unless the renaming itself is the declaration of a primitive subprogram. 

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