Ruby Internals Glossary

Just a list of acronyms I’ve run across in the Ruby source code and their meanings.

Term Definition
‘BIN` Basic Instruction Name. Used as a macro to reference the YARV instruction. Converts pop into YARVINSN_pop.
‘bop` Basic Operator. Relates to methods like ‘Integer` plus and minus which can be optimized as long as they haven’t been redefined.
‘cc` Call Cache. An inline cache structure for the call site. Stored in the ‘cd`
‘cd` Call Data. A data structure that points at the ‘ci` and the `cc`. `iseq` objects points at the `cd`, and access call information and call caches via this structure
‘cfp` Control Frame Pointer. Represents a Ruby stack frame. Calling a method pushes a new frame (cfp), returning pops a frame. Points at the ‘pc`, `sp`, `ep`, and the corresponding `iseq`
‘ci` Call Information. Refers to an ‘rb_callinfo` struct. Contains call information about the call site, including number of parameters to be passed, whether it they are keyword arguments or not, etc. Used in conjunction with the `cc` and `cd`.
‘cref` Class reference. A structure pointing to the class reference where ‘klass_or_self`, visibility scope, and refinements are stored. It also stores a pointer to the next class in the hierarchy referenced by `rb_cref_struct * next`. The Class reference is lexically scoped.
CRuby Implementation of Ruby written in C
‘cvar` Class Variable. Refers to a Ruby class variable like ‘@@foo`
‘dvar` Dynamic Variable. Used by the parser to refer to local variables that are defined outside of the current lexical scope. For example ‘def foo; bar = 1; -> { p bar }; end` the “bar” inside the block is a `dvar`
‘ec` Execution Context. The top level VM context, points at the current ‘cfp`
‘ep` Environment Pointer. Local variables, including method parameters are stored in the ‘ep` array. The `ep` is pointed to by the `cfp`
GC Garbage Collector
‘gvar` Global Variable. Refers to a Ruby global variable like ‘$$`, etc
‘ICLASS` Internal Class. When a module is included, the target class gets a new superclass which is an instance of an ‘ICLASS`. The `ICLASS` represents the module in the inheritance chain.
‘ifunc` Internal FUNCtion. A block implemented in C.
‘iseq` Instruction Sequence. Usually “iseq” in the C code will refer to an ‘rb_iseq_t` object that holds a reference to the actual instruction sequences which are executed by the VM. The object also holds information about the code, like the method name associated with the code.
‘insn` Instruction. Refers to a YARV instruction.
‘insns` Instructions. Usually an array of YARV instructions.
‘ivar` Instance Variable. Refers to a Ruby instance variable like ‘@foo`
‘imemo` Internal Memo. A tagged struct whose memory is managed by Ruby’s GC, but contains internal information and isn’t meant to be exposed to Ruby programs. Contains various information depending on the type. See the ‘imemo_type` enum for different types.
JIT Just In Time compiler
‘lep` Local Environment Pointer. An ‘ep` which is tagged `VM_ENV_FLAG_LOCAL`. Usually this is the `ep` of a method (rather than a block, whose `ep` isn’t “local”)
‘local` Local. Refers to a local variable.
‘me` Method Entry. Refers to an ‘rb_method_entry_t` struct, the internal representation of a Ruby method.
MRI Matz’s Ruby Implementation
‘pc` Program Counter. Usually the instruction that will be executed next by the VM. Pointed to by the ‘cfp` and incremented by the VM
‘sp` Stack Pointer. The top of the stack. The VM executes instructions in the ‘iseq` and instructions will push and pop values on the stack. The VM updates the `sp` on the `cfp` to point at the top of the stack
‘svar` Special Variable. Refers to special local variables like ‘$~` and `$_`. See the `getspecial` instruction in `insns.def`
‘VALUE` VALUE is a pointer to a ruby object from the Ruby C code.
VM Virtual Machine. In MRI’s case YARV (Yet Another Ruby VM)
WB Write Barrier. To do with GC write barriers
WC Wild Card. As seen in instructions like ‘getlocal_WC_0`. It means this instruction takes a “wild card” for the parameter (in this case an index for a local)
YARV Yet Another Ruby VM. The virtual machine that CRuby uses
ZOMBIE A zombie object. An object that has a finalizer which hasn’t been executed yet. The object has been collected, so is “dead”, but the finalizer hasn’t run yet so it’s still somewhat alive.