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Re: [ub] P1407R0: Tell Programmers About Signed Integer Overflow Behavior

From: Myria <myriachan_at_[hidden]>
Date: Wed, 30 Jan 2019 00:51:08 -0800
This document doesn't mention another possible behavior of signed overflow:
saturation. Saturation arithmetic supposedly is what many DSPs do on
overflow, but I wouldn't know.

I call the three cases of when there is implementation-defined behavior as
"snap", "trap" and "wrap" for the alliteration. I suppose the "can't
happen" / undefined case could be "crap". =^-^=

I just noticed a problem in the document's example: fixed-size types. This
is problematic because of integer promotion. Imagine a system in which
"int" were 64 bits. Then this code:

auto const ret = a + 100u;

would actually generate a result of type "const unsigned int", which is 64
bits on such a platform. Then the overflow check does not work, and the
result won't saturate as intended.

This clouds the actual issue you're trying to get at. Using simply "int"
and "unsigned int" for the example solves the problem.

Another example of how using fixed-sized types can cloud issues due to

std::uint16_t x = 65535u;
x *= x; // undefined behavior on most of today's platforms because of
promotion to signed int


On Tue, Jan 29, 2019 at 6:04 PM Scott Schurr <s.scott.schurr_at_[hidden]>

> Greeting again SG12,
> Here's another email that I think got trapped for moderation yesterday but
> apparently can get through now. Sorry for the additional noise.
> Scott Schurr
> S.Scott.Schurr_at_[hidden]
> On Mon, Jan 28, 2019 at 10:13 AM Scott Schurr <s.scott.schurr_at_[hidden]>
> wrote:
>> Hi John,
>> Nice to hear from you. Thanks for your interest in the paper.
>> Regarding whether "can't happen" is a behavior, I'm expecting to hear
>> varied well studied opinions (like yours) during the paper discussion. My
>> perspective is that "can't happen" cannot be defined in a mechanistic way.
>> It's not like, "The gear used to turn left but now turns right." However I
>> think that "can't happen" can be defined in the sense that the result of an
>> explosion can be quite well defined. Given an explosion of sufficient
>> yield at a certain location there is a high probability that the building
>> will collapse, but we're uncertain where the individual bricks will fall.
>> We still understand the outcome sufficiently well to be able to talk about
>> it.
>> My feeling is that it's not that different from talking about race
>> conditions. We really don't know what the consequence of a race condition
>> will be. But we can define a race condition.
>> Thanks for your thoughts.
>> Scott Schurr
>> S.Scott.Schurr_at_[hidden]
>> On Sat, Jan 26, 2019 at 2:13 AM John McFarlane <john_at_[hidden]>
>> wrote:
>>> When I read that title, I also had the reaction "you have the wrong
>>> target" but in my case, I assumed the target was SG20. I think it's a great
>>> paper to send to that study group.
>>> My main concern, though, boils down to the idea that "Can't happen" is
>>> somehow a behaviour. It seems to be suggested, for example, that overflow
>>> as it occurs in current implementations can realistically be defined. I'm
>>> not sure that's practical because such behaviour is highly sensitive to
>>> many non-obvious factors. Overflow at a single point in the code may
>>> produce wildly different 'behaviours' depending on factors such as: from
>>> where it's invoked, various toolchain options and minor revisions to the
>>> implementation. And even with this information at hand, the write-up might
>>> well be onerous to the implementer and worse than useless for the user
>>> because it would involve describing in much detail the optimization
>>> algorithms involved. So I don't think implementation-defined is a
>>> straight-forward solution to the problem.
>>> Generally, I agree I'd like to see effort put toward thinking of the
>>> correct way to deliver the idea of UB. It's the wrong wording to give to
>>> users of the language. It's implementor speak. Like a bailiff using
>>> legalese to explain why somebody has just lost their home, it causes
>>> confusion and anger.
>>> On Sat, 26 Jan 2019 at 08:54 Marc Glisse <marc.glisse_at_[hidden]> wrote:
>>>> Hello,
>>>> just a couple points missing from the paper:
>>>> 1) with g++-7 -O2 -Wall, the motivating example on the left produces:
>>>> <source>: In function 'int32_t add_100_without_wrap(int32_t)':
>>>> <source>:8:3: warning: assuming signed overflow does not occur when
>>>> assuming that (X + c) < X is always false [-Wstrict-overflow]
>>>> if (ret < a)
>>>> However, we removed the warning from gcc-8 because it was too noisy and
>>>> impossible to work around when the optimization is what you actually
>>>> want.
>>>> 2) At least with gcc, -ftrapv doesn't really work. You need
>>>> -fsanitize=signed-integer-overflow -fsanitize-undefined-trap-on-error
>>>> for
>>>> something roughly equivalent to what -ftrapv is supposed to do.
>>>> Now my opinion: you have the wrong target. Compilers that have a
>>>> -fwrapv
>>>> option (or -ftrapv or ubsan or ...) already indirectly describe the
>>>> default behavior as undefined (and the standard already describes it as
>>>> undefined), so it is already documented. Adding a sentence or 2 in the
>>>> standard and on pages that nobody reads won't help. It seems that you
>>>> want
>>>> to talk either to teachers, so they warn their students more about the
>>>> properties of signed overflow, or to compiler writers, to convince them
>>>> to
>>>> change the default to -fwrapv or -ftrapv (I hope they don't) or add
>>>> more
>>>> warnings.
>>>> --
>>>> Marc Glisse
>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>> ub mailing list
>>>> ub_at_[hidden]
>>>> http://www.open-std.org/mailman/listinfo/ub
>>> _______________________________________________
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Received on 2019-01-30 09:51:22