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11.7 Number of iterations analysis

Both on GIMPLE and on RTL, there are functions available to determine the number of iterations of a loop, with a similar interface. In many cases, it is not possible to determine number of iterations unconditionally – the determined number is correct only if some assumptions are satisfied. The analysis tries to verify these conditions using the information contained in the program; if it fails, the conditions are returned together with the result. The following information and conditions are provided by the analysis:

Both on GIMPLE and on RTL, it necessary for the induction variable analysis framework to be initialized (SCEV on GIMPLE, loop-iv on RTL). On GIMPLE, the results are stored to struct tree_niter_desc structure. Number of iterations before the loop is exited through a given exit can be determined using number_of_iterations_exit function. On RTL, the results are returned in struct niter_desc structure. The corresponding function is named check_simple_exit. There are also functions that pass through all the exits of a loop and try to find one with easy to determine number of iterations – find_loop_niter on GIMPLE and find_simple_exit on RTL. Finally, there are functions that provide the same information, but additionally cache it, so that repeated calls to number of iterations are not so costly – number_of_iterations_in_loop on GIMPLE and get_simple_loop_desc on RTL.

Note that some of these functions may behave slightly differently than others – some of them return only the expression for the number of iterations, and fail if there are some assumptions. The function number_of_iterations_in_loop works only for single-exit loops, and it returns the value for number of iterations higher by one with respect to all other functions (i.e., it returns number of executions of the exit statement, not of the loop latch).