[PATCH 2/6] Add returns_zero_on_success/failure attributes

David Malcolm dmalcolm@redhat.com
Thu Nov 18 23:34:28 GMT 2021

On Wed, 2021-11-17 at 22:43 +0000, Joseph Myers wrote:
> On Wed, 17 Nov 2021, Prathamesh Kulkarni via Gcc-patches wrote:
> > More generally, would it be a good idea to provide attributes for
> > mod/ref anaylsis ?
> > So sth like:
> > void foo(void) __attribute__((modifies(errno)));
> > which would state that foo modifies errno, but neither reads nor
> > modifies any other global var.
> > and
> > void bar(void) __attribute__((reads(errno)))
> > which would state that bar only reads errno, and doesn't modify or
> > read any other global var.
> Many math.h functions are const except for possibly setting errno, 
> possibly raising floating-point exceptions (which might have other
> effects 
> when using alternate exception handling) and possibly reading the
> rounding 
> mode.  To represent that, it might be useful for such attributes to
> be 
> able to describe state (such as the floating-point environment) that 
> doesn't correspond to a C identifier.  (errno tends to be a macro, so
> referring to it as such in an attribute may be awkward as well.)
> (See also <http://www.open-std.org/jtc1/sc22/wg14/www/docs/n2825.htm>
> with 
> some proposals for features to describe const/pure-like properties of
> functions.)

Thanks for the link.

As noted in my reply to Prathamesh, these ideas sound interesting, but
this thread seems to be entering scope creep - I don't need these ideas
to implement this patch kit (but I do need the attributes specified in
the patch, or similar).  

Do the specific attributes I posted sound reasonable?  (without
necessarily going in to a full review).

If we're thinking longer term, I want the ability to express that a
function can have multiple outcomes (e.g. "success" vs "failure" or
"found" vs "not found", etc), and it might be good to have a way to
attach attributes to those outcomes.  Unfortunately the attribute
syntax is flat, but maybe there could be a two level hierarchy,
something like:

int foo (args)

Or given that we're enamored by Lisp-ish DSLs we could go the whole hog
and have something like:

int foo (args)
  __attribute ((semantics(
    "(def-outcomes (success (return-value (eq 0))"
    "              (failure (return-value (ne 0)"
    "                        modifies (errno))))")));

which may be over-engineering things :)

Going back to the patch itself, returns_zero_on_success/failure get me
what I want to express for finding trust boundaries in the Linux
kernel, have obvious meaning to a programmer (helpful even w/o compiler
support), and could interoperate with one the more elaborate ideas in
this thread.

Hope this is constructive

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