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Compaq C

Compaq C
Language Reference Manual

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3.7.1 const Type Qualifier

Use the const type qualifier to qualify an object whose value cannot be changed. Objects qualified by the const keyword cannot be modified. This means that an object declared as const cannot serve as the operand in an operation that changes its value; for example, the ++ and -- operators are not allowed on objects qualified with const . Using the const qualifier on an object protects it from the side effects caused by operations that alter storage.

The declaration of const -qualified objects can be slightly more complicated than that for nonqualified types. Here are some examples, with explanatory comments:

const int x = 44;   /*  const qualification of int type  -- 
                        the value of x cannot be modified  */  
const int *z;       /*  Pointer to a constant integer    -- 
                        The value in the location pointed 
                        to by z cannot be modified         */ 
int * const ptr;    /*  A constant pointer -- a pointer  
                        which will always point to the 
                        same location                      */ 
const int *const p; /*  A constant pointer to a constant 
                        integer -- neither the pointer or 
                        the integer can be modified        */ 
const const int y;  /*  Illegal - redundant use of const   */ 

The following rules apply to the const type qualifier:

3.7.2 volatile Type Qualifier

Any object whose type includes the volatile type qualifier indicates that the object should not be subject to compiler optimizations altering references to, or modifications of, the object.


volatile objects are especially prone to side effects. (See Section 2.5.)

Optimizations that are defeated by using the volatile specifier can be categorized as follows:

An object without the volatile specifier does not compel the compiler to perform these optimizations; it indicates that the compiler has the freedom to apply the optimizations depending on program context and compiler optimization level.

The volatile qualifier forces the compiler to allocate memory for the volatile object, and to always access the object from memory. This qualifier is often used to declare that an object can be accessed in some way not under the compiler's control. Therefore, an object qualified by the volatile keyword can be modified or accessed in ways by other processes or hardware, and is especially vulnerable to side effects.

The following rules apply to the use of the volatile qualifier:

3.7.3 __unaligned Type Qualifier

Use this data-type qualifier in pointer definitions to indicate to the compiler that the data pointed to is not properly aligned on a correct address. (To be properly aligned, the address of an object must be a multiple of the size of the type. For example, two-byte objects must be aligned on even addresses.)

When data is accessed through a pointer declared __unaligned , the compiler generates the additional code necessary to copy or store the data without causing alignment errors. It is best to avoid use of misaligned data altogether, but in some cases the usage may be justified by the need to access packed structures, or by other considerations.

Here is an example of a typical use of __unaligned :

typedef enum {int_kind, float_kind, double_kind} kind; 
void foo(void *ptr, kind k) { 
    switch (k) { 
    case int_kind: 
        printf("%d", *(__unaligned int *)ptr); 
    case float_kind: 
        printf("%f", *(__unaligned float *)ptr); 
    case double_kind: 
        printf("%f", *(__unaligned double *)ptr); 

3.7.4 __restrict Type Qualifier

Use the __restrict type qualifier on the declaration of a pointer type to indicate that the pointer is subject to compiler optimizations. Restricted pointers are expected to be an addition to the 9X revision of the ISO C Standard. Using restricted pointers judiciously can often improve the quality of code output by the compiler. Rationale

The following sections describe the rationale for restricted-pointer support. Aliasing

For many compiler optimizations, ranging from simply holding a value in a register to the parallel execution of a loop, it is necessary to determine whether two distinct lvalues designate distinct objects. If the objects are not distinct, the lvalues are said to be aliases. If the compiler cannot determine whether or not two lvalues are aliases, it must assume that they are aliases and suppresses various optimizations.

Aliasing through pointers presents the greatest difficulty, because there is often not enough information available within a single function, or even within a single compilation unit, to determine whether two pointers can point to the same object. Even when enough information is available, this analysis can require substantial time and space. For example, it could require an analysis of a whole program to determine the possible values of a pointer that is a function parameter. Library Examples

Consider how potential aliasing enters into implementations in C of two Standard C library functions memmove and memcpy :

The following example contrasts sample implementations of the memcpy and memmove functions:

/* Sample implementation of memmove */ 
   void *memmove(void *s1, const void *s2, size_t n) { 
           char * t1 = s1; 
           const char * t2 = s2; 
           char * t3 = malloc(n); 
           size_t i; 
           for(i=0; i<n; i++) t3[i] = t2[i]; 
           for(i=0; i<n; i++) t1[i] = t3[i]; 
           return s1; 
/* Sample implementation of memcpy */ 
   void *memcpy(void *s1, const void *s2, size_t n); 
           char * t1 = s1; 
           const char * t2 = s2; 
           while(n-- > 0) *t1++ = *t2++; 
           return s1; 

The restriction on memcpy is expressed only in its description in the Standard, and cannot be expressed directly in its implementation in C. While this allows the source-level optimization of eliminating the temporary used in memmove , it does not provide for compiler optimization of the resulting single loop.

In many architectures, it is faster to copy bytes in blocks, rather than one at a time: Overlapping Objects

The restriction in the description of memcpy in the Standard prohibits copying between overlapping objects. An object is a region of data storage, and except for bit-fields, objects are composed of contiguous sequences of one or more bytes, the number, order, and encoding of which are either explicitly specified or implementation-defined.

Consider the following example:

/* memcpy between rows of a matrix */ 
void f1(void) { 
        extern char a[2][N]; 
        memcpy(a[1], a[0], N); 

In this example:

Now consider the following example:

/* memcpy between halves of an array */ 
void f2(void) { 
        extern char b[2*N]; 
        memcpy(b+N, b, N); 

In this example:

The length of an object is determined by various methods: Restricted Pointer Prototype for memcpy

If an aliasing restriction like the one for memcpy could be expressed in a function definition, then it would be available to a compiler to facilitate effective pointer alias analysis. The __restrict type qualifier accomplishes this by specifying in the declaration of a pointer that the pointer provides exclusive initial access to the object to which it points, as though the pointer were initialized with a call to malloc .

The following prototype for memcpy both expresses the desired restriction and is compatible with the current prototype:

void *memcpy(void * __restrict s1, const void * __restrict s2, size_t n); Formal Definition of the __restrict Type Qualifier

The following definition of restricted pointers supports expression of aliasing restrictions in as many paradigms as possible. This is helpful in converting existing programs to use restricted pointers, and allows more freedom of style in new programs.

This definition, therefore, allows restricted pointers to be:


A pointer is designated as a restricted pointer by specifying the __restrict type qualifier on its declaration.

The formal definition of a restricted pointer as proposed for inclusion in the revised ISO C Standard follows:

Let D be a declaration of an ordinary identifier that provides a means of designating an object P as a restrict-qualified pointer.

If D appears inside a block and does not have storage-class extern, let B denote the block. If D appears in the list of parameter declarations of a function definition, let B denote the associated block. Otherwise, let B denote the block of main (or the block of whatever function is called at program startup, in a freestanding environment).

In what follows, a pointer expression E is said to be based on object P if (at some sequence point in the execution of B prior to the evaluation of E) modifying P to point to a copy of the array object into which it formerly pointed would change the value of E. (In other words, E depends on the value of P itself rather than on the value of an object referenced indirectly through P. For example, if identifier p has type (int ** restrict) , then the pointer expressions p and p+1 are based on the restricted pointer object designated by p , but the pointer expressions *p and p[1] are not.)

During each execution of B, let O be the array object that is determined dynamically by all references through pointer expressions based on P. All references to values of O shall be through pointer expressions based on P. Furthermore, if P is assigned the value of a pointer expression E that is based on another restricted pointer object P2, associated with block B2, then either the execution of B2 shall begin before the execution of B, or the execution of B2 shall end prior to the assignment. If this requirement is not met, then the behavior is undefined.

Here an execution of B means that portion of the execution of the program during which storage is guaranteed to be reserved for an instance of an object that is associated with B and has automatic storage duration. A reference to a value means either an access to or a modification of the value. During an execution of B, attention is confined to those references that are actually evaluated (this excludes references that appear in unevaluated expressions, and also excludes references that are "available," in the sense of employing visible identifiers, but do not actually appear in the text of B).

A translator is free to ignore any or all aliasing implications of uses of restrict. Examples

The formal definition of the __restrict type qualifier can be difficult to grasp, but simplified explanations tend to be less accurate and complete. The essence of the definition is that the __restrict type qualifier is an assertion by the programmer that whenever a memory access is made through a restricted pointer, the only aliases the compiler need consider are other accesses made through the same pointer.

Much of the complexity is in defining exactly what is meant for an access to be made through a pointer (the based-on rules), and specifying how a restricted pointer can be assigned the value of another restricted pointer, while limiting the aliasing potential to occur only at block boundaries. Examples can be the best way to understand restricted pointers.

The following examples show the use of restricted pointers in various contexts. File Scope Restricted Pointers

A file scope restricted pointer is subject to very strong restrictions. It should point into a single array object for the duration of the program. That array object must not be referenced both through the restricted pointer and through either its declared name (if it has one) or another restricted pointer.

Because of these restrictions, references through the pointer can be optimized as effectively as references to a static array through its declared name. File scope restricted pointers are therefore useful in providing access to dynamically allocated global arrays.

In the following example, a compiler can deduce from the __restrict type qualifiers that there is no potential aliasing among the names a , b , and c :

/* File Scope Restricted Pointer */ 
float * __restrict a, * __restrict b; 
float c[100]; 
int init(int n) { 
    float * t = malloc(2*n*sizeof(float)); 
    a = t;       /* a refers to 1st half. */ 
    b = t + n;   /* b refers to 2nd half. */ 

Notice how the single block of allocated storage is subdivided into two unique arrays in the function init .

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