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Archives for: April 2008

04/28/08

Permalink 09:55:06 pm, by lano1106, 680 words, 3102 views   English (CA)
Categories: C++

ODR, inline functions and C++ compiler generated functions

ODR is the One Definition Rule. This is the rule that stipulates that a name (a function, a class or global variable and much more other types) must be defined not more than once in the same program. The compiler will emit an error if a name is defined more than once in the same translation unit (TU) or if the name is defined more than once but in differents TUs, it is the linker that will catch the error and it will emit a duplicate symbol error.

The ODR is the reason why header files guards are used (#ifndef XXX #define XXX #endif). If a header file was not protected by guards and included more than once in a TU, the ODR would be violated.

All C++ programmers have a formal knowledge of the ODR or at least an intuition of its details learned by experience but this rule gets very interesting when you start to study the exceptions to it. Studying these things makes you more appreciate the complexity of the C++ language.

For instance, there are the inline functions. Usually, when we think about inline functions, we consider them as fancy macros with strong type checks. However the inline keyword can be considered only as a hint given to the compiler and the compiler is free to completely ignore the inline specifier. If it does ignore it, it will generate a regular function and export it from the resulting object file. If the inline functions are defined in many TUs and linked together then according to the ODR, this would be an error but inline functions are exempted from the ODR and the linker only keeps one copy of the inline functions defined multiple times. I would be very eager to figure out how the linker knows that a given function is exempted from the ODR because as you will see next, there are no apparent hints to this effect.

The next exception to the ODR is the C++ compiler generated functions for a class. Those functions include the copy constructor and the assignment operator. The C++ standard says that these functions are always implicitly declared if not explicitly done by the user but implicitly defined only if they are used. They will also be considered as inline hence also exempted from the ODR. Another property of the generated functions is that they are classified as trivial or non-trivial. Essentially, a trivial copy constructor simply means that the class looks more like a C POD (Plain Old Data) structure than a class and the compiler can use the same C compiler technique to perform the deep copy (probably something like a memcpy). Otherwise, it will need to create a real constructor function. Here is a simple example to demonstrate these notions:

C.h: 

class C 
{ 
public: 
   C() : a(0), b(0), c(0), d(0), e(0) {} 
//  virtual ~C() {} 
private: 
   int a; 
   int b; 
   int c; 
   int d; 
   int e; 
}; 

f.cpp: 

#include "C.h" 

C f() 
{ 
     C a; 
     C b = a; 
     return b; 
} 

g.cpp: 

#include "C.h" 

C g() 
{ 
     C a; 
     C b = a; 
     return b; 
} 

main.cpp: 

#include "C.h" 

C f(); 
C g(); 

int main(int argc, char *argv[]) 
{ 
   f(); 
   g(); 
   return 0; 
} 

g++ -c f.cpp 
nm -a -C f.o 

00000000 t 
00000000 d 
00000000 b 
00000000 t 
00000000 n 
00000000 n 
00000000 a f.cpp 
00000000 T f() 
00000000 W C::C() 

No sign of the copy constructor. I am guessing that the compiler make the copy constructor inline because it is trivial. I am adding a virtual destructor to make the copy constructor non-trivial:

00000000 T f() 
          U operator delete(void*) 
00000000 W C::C(C const&) 
00000000 W C::C() 
00000000 W C::~C() 
00000000 W C::~C() 
00000000 V typeinfo for C 
00000000 V typeinfo name for C 
00000000 V vtable for C 
          U vtable for __cxxabiv1::__class_type_info 

Now g.o and f.o have a copy of C copy constructor and the linker will link fine and only one copy of the function will find its way in the final executable file because the implicitly defined copy constructor is inline.

04/12/08

Permalink 03:22:31 pm, by lano1106, 265 words, 1182 views   English (CA)
Categories: C++

shift operator undefined behavior

I was expecting:

int main( int argc, char *argv[] ) 
{ 
   unsigned char m = 32; 
   register unsigned mask = (1<<m); 
   std::cout << std::hex << mask << '\n'; 
   return 0; 
} 

to print 0 but instead this program compiled with g++ (and VC++.NET2003 too) prints 1!

If I change (1<<m) by (1<<32) or if change the program for:

int main( int argc, char *argv[] ) 
{ 
   unsigned char m = 31; 
   register unsigned mask = (1<<m)<<1; 
   std::cout << std::hex << mask << '\n'; 
   return 0; 
} 

it gives me the expected 0.

In the C++ standard document, section 5.8. It is written

"The behavior is undefined if the right operand is negative, or greater than or equal to the length in bits of the promoted left operand."

The root for this behavior probably originates from C and the safe way to perform a bit shift when the number of bits to shift may exceed the length of the left operand is to implement the shift operation in a function:

Example, almost but not universally portable:

#include <climits> 

unsigned int safe_uint_shift(unsigned int value,
                             unsigned int bits) 
{ 
    if( bits > (CHAR_BIT*std::sizeof(unsigned int) )
    {
      return 0;
    }
    else
    {
        return value << bits; 
    }
}  

Put it in a header and make it inline if you like.

This solution has been proposed by Jack Klein.

The other way that I have used is to promote the left operand to an integer type having enough bits:

register unsigned mask =
  (static_cast<unsigned long long>(1)<<m)<<1;
Permalink 09:04:01 am, by lano1106, 279 words, 802 views   English (CA)
Categories: C++

operator<< for a private inner class

Suppose we have

class A
{
  private:
  class B
  {
  };
};

and we would like to define operator<< for class B. I had this situation yesterday and it took me few tries to make it work. I first tried:

class A
{
...
};
std::ostream operator<<( ostream &, const A::B & );

It did not work because the compiler complained that B was private. My second attempt:

class A
{
  private:
  class B
  {
  };
  static std::ostream &operator<<( ostream &, const B & );
};

I was getting closer to the solution but this was still not quite right. Apparently, you do not have the right to declare operator<< as a static member of another class or as soon as an operator is defined as a class member, automatically, the compiler expect the left operand to be of this class type.

Then I tried this:

class A
{
  private:
  class B
  {
  };
  friend std::ostream &operator<<( ostream &, const B & );
};
std::ostream &operator<<( ostream &o, const A::B &b )
{
}

This time, I am not sure why but the linker now was complaining about duplicate symbols for my operator<< function. Not sure if it is the code that has a problem. It looks good to me. I suspect that maybe it is parameter type mangling problem and the compiler does not recognize 'const B &' as the same as 'const A::B &' but anyhow, I did not pursue the investigation I have finally made the code work like this:

class A
{
  private:
  class B
  {
  };
  friend std::ostream &operator<<( ostream &o, const B &b )
  {
  }
};

Olivier Langlois's blog

I want you to find in this blog informations about C++ programming that I had a hard time to find in the first place on the web.

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