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Environment Object

The Environment object (Env) is used to maintain references to python objects that are needed to support compiled functions for both object-mode and nopython-mode.

In nopython-mode, the Env is used for:

  • Storing pyobjects for reconstruction from native values, such as:

    • for printing native values of NumPy arrays;

    • for returning or yielding native values back to the interpreter.

In object-mode, the Env is used for:

  • storing constant values referenced in the code.

  • storing a reference to the function’s global dictionary to load global values.

The Implementation

The Env is implemented in two parts. In _dynfunc.c, the Env is defined as EnvironmentObject as a Python C-extension type. In lowering.py, the EnvironmentObject` (exported as _dynfunc.Environment) is extended to support necessary operations needed at lowering.


The Env supports being pickled. Compilation cache files and ahead-of-time compiled modules serialize all the used Envs for recreation at the runtime.


At the start of the lowering for a function or a generator, an Env is created. Throughout the compilation, the Env is mutated to attach additional information. The compiled code references an Env via a global variable in the emitted LLVM IR. The global variable is zero-initialized with “common” linkage, which is the default linkage for C global values. The use of this linkage allows multiple definitions of the global variable to be merged into a single definition when the modules are linked together. The name of the global variable is computed from the name of the function (see FunctionDescriptor.env_name and .get_env_name() of the target context).

The Env is initialized when the compiled-function is loaded. The JIT engine finds the address of the associated global variable for the Env and stores the address of the Env into it. For cached functions, the same process applies. For ahead-of-time compiled functions, the module initializer in the generated library is responsible for initializing the global variables of all the Envs in the module.