# Developer Guide

## Keyword Argument Best Practices

Keyword arguments such as f(x,y; a=1, b=2) are a powerful Julia feature, but it is easy to misuse them in library code. Below are the "best practices" for using keyword arguments when developing ITensor library code.

A particular challenge how to properly use keyword argument "forwarding" where the notation f(; a, b, kwargs...) allows any number of keyword arguments to be passed. If a keyword argument is misspelled, then forwarding keywords with kwargs... will silently allow the misspelling, whereas ideally there would be an error message.

Best practices:

1. Popping Terminal Keyword Arguments: When passing keyword arguments downward through a stack of function calls, if a certain keyword argument will not be used in any functions further down the stack, then these arguments should be listed explicitly to remove them from the keyword arguments.

For example, in a call stack fA -> fB -> fC if a keyword argument such as cutoff is used in the body of fB but not in fC, then use the following pattern:

function fA(...; kwargs...)
...
fB(...; kwargs...)
...
end

function fB(...; cutoff, kwargs...) # <- explicitly list cutoff here
...
truncate!(psi; cutoff) # <- fB uses cutoff
fC(...; kwargs...) # fC does not get passed cutoff
end

function fC(...; maxdim, outputlevel) # fC does not use or need the cutoff kwarg
...
end
2. Leaf Functions Should Not Take kwargs...: Functions which are the last in the call stack to take any keyword arguments should not take keyword arguments by the kwargs... pattern. They should only take an explicit list of keyword arguments, so as to ensure that an error is thrown if a keyword argument is misspelled or missing (if it has no default value).

Example: fC above is a leaf function and does not have kwargs... in its signature.

3. Use Functions to Set Defaults: Keyword arguments can be made optional by providing default values. To avoid having explicit and possibly inconsistent defaults spread all over the library code, use globally defined functions to provide these defaults.

For example:

function sum(A::MPS, B::MPS; cutoff=default_cutoff(), kwargs...)
...
end

function inner(A::MPS, B::MPS; cutoff=default_cutoff(), kwargs...)
...
end

where above the default value for the cutoff keyword is provided by a function default_cutoff() that is defined for the whole library.

4. Use Named Tuples to "Tunnel" Keywords to Leaf Functions: This is a more advanced pattern. In certain situations, there might be multiple leaf functions depending on the execution pathway of the code or in cases where the leaf function is a "callback" passed into the code from the upper-level calling code.

In such cases, different leaf function implementations may expect different sets of keyword arguments.

To avoid requiring all leaf functions to take all possible keyword arguments (or to use the kwargs... pattern as a workaround, breaking rule #2 above), use the following pattern:

function fA(callback, psi; callback_args, kwargs...)
...
callback(psi; callback_args...)
...
end

my_callback(psi; a, b) = ...  # define custom callback function

# Call fA like this:
fA(my_callback, psi; callback_args = (; a, b))

5. External (non-ITensor) Functions: Though it requires judgment in each case, if the keyword arguments an external (non-ITensor) function accepts are small in number, not expected to change, and known ahead of time, try to list them explicitly if possible (rather than forwarding with kwargs...). Possible exceptions could be if you want to make use of defaults defined for keyword arguments of an external function.