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1.6) What Are MOPs And Reflection? (Object-Oriented Technology)




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This article is from the Object-Oriented Technology FAQ, by Bob Hathaway rjh@geodesic.com with numerous contributions by others.

1.6) What Are MOPs And Reflection? (Object-Oriented Technology)

MOP is an acronym for Meta-Object Protocol. This is a system with
Meta-Classes accessible to users [Kiczales 92, Paepcke 93]. In CLOS
terminology, an introspective protocol provides a read only capability (e.g.
what is this object's class, give info on this class, etc.) and an
intercessory protocol provides a write capability which allows system
modification (e.g. add the following method or instance to this class,
perform inheritance this way, etc.). Because inheritance can be used to
perform differential changes, intercessory protocols allow users to not
only define new frameworks but to specialize existing system frameworks
differentially without affecting them and their extant objects. Thus, many
frameworks can interoperate together simultaneously. This is a good example
of object-oriented reuse, since the compiler itself is reused thru
specialization to provide new frameworks.

"Reflective" systems are systems with MOPs (not to be confused with reflexive
systems, which often refer to systems implemented in terms of themselves, or
bootstrapped). Reflective systems are inevitably reflexive (as are most
quality compilers), providing a direct program interface to the system.

 

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