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From: degski (degski_at_[hidden])
Date: 2020-03-03 05:15:13

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: degski <degski_at_[hidden]>
Date: Mon, 2 Mar 2020 at 23:14
Subject: Re: [boost] Boost.StaticString (formerly Boost.FixedString) is
ready for release!
To: Alexander Grund <alexander.grund_at_[hidden]>

On Mon, 2 Mar 2020 at 09:57, Alexander Grund <alexander.grund_at_[hidden]>

> Because if you use a signed type you have no compile-time guarantee that
> the value is unsigned (using "type" and "value" to differentiate those 2).

You have indeed the guarantee that it is non-negative, compile-time, the
problem is that, although you now know it is positive, you have lost
(compile-time) any means of determining whether this value is correct (at
run-time), while the guarantee at compile-time is just tautological. I
don't understand really what you have against it, one can always use an
int64_t, iff worried about int32_t overflow.

Same as with a pointer: It can be NULL.

This value of null in itself is nothing special, it points at the
top/bottom of the stack, there's nothing, so we hit UB. I don't think this
is a good parallel. Pointers are not numbers, addition is meaningless.
Adding up sizes is not meaningless, and we do it every day. Adding (or
deducting) up a size and a pointer-difference is not meaningless either,
that's why size needs to be signed.

> If you want an interface where you want to guarantee at compile-time that
> the value passed over an API is never NULL, you use e.g. a reference that
> can never be NULL (or not_null<T>)

Herb's most recent post puts another angle on this: .

>> Didn't you argue in the mail before that there will never be anything of
>> size 2^32 and hence even not anything like 2^64? How could you overflow
>> that then?
> If you are manipulating (subtracting, adding differences) pointers, I
> thought I wrote that. The pointers might be pointers into Virtual Memory
> and can have any value [1, 2^56].
> Not sure I understand that. Can we agree that a 64-bit unsigned type is
> big enough to store any size of any container and hence no overflow is
> possible?

 Yes, certainly, what about a 63-bit value (the positive part of a signed
64-bit int), is that too small?

 ... signed type which may be an unsigned value. You'll have to check.

No, a signed value is never an unsigned value in disguise (that would
result in overflow), the other way around, yes.

I disagree. And as mentioned you can do things like `int difference =
> int(obj.size()) - 1` anytime you want to do operations that are not fully
> defined on unsigned types (as in: may result in values outside the range)
> same as you can't to `int foo = sqrt(integer)` because you may get an
> imaginary number (if sqrt could do that, but I think you get the gist).

C++ has questionable math's.

How is that any different from `assert(a <= size); return size - a;`?

That's not what you wrote earlier. The you introduced a branch in release
and made the function throw.

> > all that because it upsets you that something that should not occur in
> the first place in correct code can occur iff one is writing code that now
> (as one observed it got negative) is known to have a bug.
> Again: How is that different to using a signed type for "size"? You have
> exactly the same potential for bugs. You always have to make sure you stay
> in your valid domain, and a negative size is outside of that valid domain.
> Hence you got to check somewhere or use control flow to make sure this
> doesn't happen. So no difference in signed vs unsigned size regarding that
 The unsigned cannot overflow, that is not a bonus, that's a problem!

> The use of unsigned is false security (actually no security) and serves
> nothing. In the end, you still need to write correct code (so the signed
> int's WON'T BE negative, there where they shouldn't be), but this practice
> makes you're code less flexible, more verbose (the unavoidable casts add to
> that) and probably slower than using signed. All that because of this
> 'natural' way of looking at sizes.
> It serves as a contract on the API level: "This value is unsigned.
> Period."

 No, it says, if the value is out of the problem domain, don't worry, I'll
cover it up (behind you're back so your app appears to be working, I make
sure of that at compile-time).

If the type was signed you'd need something else to enforce that the value
> is unsigned. So yes you still need to write correct code and passing a
> negative value to an API expecting an unsigned value is in any case a bug.

Of course, I never said, quite the opposite, that one not needs to write
correct code.

> Surely at runtime. How else could you guarantee that your value isn't
> negative after you subtract something from it? It can be compile-time if
> you only add something to it and ignore overflow but you already do that
> when using signed values anyway.
> So, why does it need to be guaranteed positive at compile time? It just
needs to be positive (size) at run-time, and as per above, you'll have to

> But all this arguing doesn't solve much: What piece of code would actually
> benefit from having a signed size?
I have already spelt out the reasons in an earlier post in this thread.

> And not only the part where you request the size and use it, but also the
> part where you give that size back to the object, so you'll need to ensure
> an unsigned value. And yes `for(int i=0; i<int(obj.size())-1; i++)` is a
> known example that would allow to get rid of the cast if the size was
> signed. But again: That is due to operation used. `for(unsigned i=0;
> i+1<obj.size(); i++)` is perfectly valid assuming no overflow
Thou shall not compare signed and unsigned values, my compilers insist and
keep on telling me that. So now you need a cast to shut the thing up, and I
would write: for ( int i = 0, back = static_cast<int> ( obj.size ( ) ) -
1; i < back; ++i ).
I would like: for ( int i = 0, back = obj.size ( ) - 1; i < back; ++i ).

This is my last post on the subject (bar new arguments).

Thank you for the discussion.


"We value your privacy, click here!" Sod off! - degski
"Anyone who believes that exponential growth can go on forever in a finite
world is either a madman or an economist" - Kenneth E. Boulding
"Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell" - Edward
P. Abbey
"We value your privacy, click here!" Sod off! - degski
"Anyone who believes that exponential growth can go on forever in a finite
world is either a madman or an economist" - Kenneth E. Boulding
"Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell" - Edward
P. Abbey

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