[cfe-dev] RFC-0x000 - Should (automatic) local variables be initialized to 0 for the programmer?
theraven at sucs.org
Sun Jun 13 13:52:50 CDT 2010
On 13 Jun 2010, at 19:28, dan chap wrote:
> Should (automatic) local variables be initialized to 0 for the programmer?
I believe that you are confusing several issues here. First, you are assuming that GCC is initializing local values to 0. This is absolutely and categorically not the case. Take this trivial test as an example:
$ cat stack.c
a = 12;
Liberator:tmp theraven$ gcc stack.c && ./a.out
As you can see, a is initialized to 0 the first time stack() is called, but not the second time? Why is this? Because the memory for the stack is acquired from the OS. As a security precaution, to prevent information leakage between processes, memory acquired from the kernel is initialized to 0 before being handed to the userspace program. This means that the entire stack is initially 0.
In this function, however, the second time that it is called, the first call has already written a value of 12 to that stack slot, so reusing it you find that the old value is already there. If you had called another function in the middle, then this would not be the case - its on-stack values would be there instead.
Secondly, you are assuming that the fact that GCC assumes the stack values to be 0 but they are not is an insidious bug. It is not, it is a side effect of undefined behaviour.
Uninitialized variables have an undefined value. This means that the optimizer is free to assume that they have any value that it wishes. It may assume that the value is 0, 123, or any other value that would produce faster code. It does not matter, from the point of view of standards conformance, whether this assumption is correct, because the result of comparing a defined value to an undefined value is, itself, undefined and so any behaviour is valid.
Finally, setting all locals to 0 initially would incur a speed penalty, which is the last thing that you want in release code. You don't need the static analyser to tell you that you are doing something stupid - both clang and GCC can issue a warning if you use a variable before initializing it.
-- Sent from my Difference Engine
More information about the cfe-dev