In CSL, it is possible to ensure that code is executed at compile-time by using the comptime keyword, which guarantees that the code will have no run-time footprint. An error is emitted if compile-time evaluation is not possible.

Comptime Variables

A comptime variable guarantees that all loads and stores to this variable happen at compile-time. As such, this variable has no run-time footprint and its address cannot be obtained. Unlike constants, comptime variables can be modified, as shown below.

task foo() void {
  comptime var bitmap: u16 = 0xffff;
  bitmap &= 0x0400;

comptime variables need to be declared inside a block or a function. For global variables, using const is enough: the initializer of global variables is always implicitly comptime, since CSL does not support run-time initialization of global variables.

Since all loads and stores to a comptime variable must happen at compile-time, the stored value must be comptime-known (explained below) and any offsets (like array indices) must be comptime-known as well. Similarly, stores to comptime variables must not depend on run-time control flow.

Comptime-Known Values

All values that are known to the compiler at compile-time are comptime-known values. Formally, the compiler uses the following rules to determine whether a value is comptime-known:

  1. All literals (e.g. 1.0) are comptime-known values.

  2. All const variables with a comptime-known initializer (e.g. const x = 1.0) are comptime-known values.

  3. All uses of comptime or param variables are comptime-known values.

  4. Expressions comprised of two or more comptime-known values (e.g. 1.0 + 2.0 * x) are comptime-known values. However, function calls are an exception to this rule.

The compiler ensures that, with the exception of function calls, all compositions of comptime-known values are comptime-known values as well. The next section describes how function calls can be explicitly marked as comptime-known.

Comptime Expressions

Expressions that depend on constants or other comptime variables can be explicitly marked for evaluation at compile time by prefixing the expression with the comptime keyword. For instance, the following snippet ensures that the call to foo() is replaced with its return value at compile time, so that we do not pay a run-time cost for the function call.

param bar: u16;

fn foo(arg: u16) u16 {
  return arg * 2;

task goo() void {
  var myVar = comptime foo(bar);

When evaluating a function call at compile-time, all expressions and variables are implicitly comptime. The compiler will error out if such function attempts to read a non comptime-known global variable or attempts to store to a global variable.

Note that the evaluation of binary logical connectives (i.e., and and or operators) will short-circuit, if possible, even at comptime. When short-circuiting applies, semantic checks like type-checking and checks for unbound identifiers will not be applied to the right-hand operand, as shown in the example below:

// The 'invalid' term of the following expression will
// not be evaluated because comptime evaluation will short-circuit
// on the 'false' term causing the whole expression to evaluate to
// 'false'.
const and_result = false and invalid;

// Similarly, the following expression will evaluate to 'true'
// without evaluating the 'invalid' term.
const or_result = true or invalid;

Types Whose Values are Required to be Comptime

Certain types are only allowed to exist in expressions and variables that are comptime. In general, these refer to types whose values:

  1. have no possible memory layout associated with them, or

  2. are required to be comptime to enable compiler analyses.

If any of these types is used as the type of a function parameter or the type returned by a function, all calls to such function must be comptime.

If any of these types is used as the type of a variable, these variables must be comptime var or const with a comptime initializer.

Pointers to these types are not allowed.

Values of the following types must always be comptime-known:

  • comptime_int

  • comptime_float

  • type

  • comptime_struct

  • comptime_string

  • function type

  • imported_module

If these types are used to create a new type, like an array, the new type is subject to the same constraints.

See Type System in CSL for more information on each of those types.

Evaluation of Comptime-Known Control Flow

If the predicate of an if statement is a comptime-known value, the if statement is replaced with the block corresponding to the branch taken (if any), no run-time branches are created, and the block corresponding to the branch not taken is not semantically checked, as illustrated below:

param mytype : type = f16;
fn foo() mytype {
  // Since the predicate of the `if` statement is comptime-known to be
  // `true`, the compiler will prune the `else` branch, making the code
  // semantically correct.
  if (@is_same_type(mytype, f16)) {
    return 1.0;
  } else {
    return 1;

In comptime loops, all expressions and variables are implicitly comptime. This includes the induction variables of for loops and the continue expression of while loops.

fn foo() void {
  comptime var sum_values: u16 = 0;
  comptime var sum_indices: u16 = 0;

  const three: u16 = 3;

  comptime {
    for ([3]u16 {1, 2, three})  |value, idx| {
       sum_values += value;
       sum_indices += idx;

  @comptime_assert(sum_values == 6);
  @comptime_assert(sum_indices == 3);

Typical Uses of the comptime Keyword

comptime variables and operations enable powerful operations such as non-trivial memory initialization or routing rules, without paying a performance penalty at run-time. For instance, the following code initializes a global array as an identity matrix at compile time.

param size: u16;

// global initializers are implicitly comptime
const identity = createIdentityMatrix();

fn createIdentityMatrix() [size, size]f16 {
  var result = @zeros([size, size]f16);

  var i: u16 = 0;
  while (i < size) : (i += 1) {
    result[i,i] = 1.0;

  return result;

The above program contains no run-time calls to createIdentityMatrix(), since that function is called on the host during program compilation.