[rust-dev] Appeal for CORRECT, capable, future-proof math, pre-1.0

Lee Braiden leebraid at gmail.com
Tue Jan 14 11:35:32 PST 2014

On 14/01/14 01:50, Palmer Cox wrote:
> On Mon, Jan 13, 2014 at 12:18 PM, Tobias Müller <troplin at bluewin.ch 
> <mailto:troplin at bluewin.ch>> wrote:
>     Daniel Micay <danielmicay at gmail.com
>     <mailto:danielmicay at gmail.com>> wrote:
>     > Do you know what undefined behavior is? It doesn't mean unspecified.
>     True, but despite beeing so often cited it won't format your hard disk
>     (even in C).

Actually, it's possible, at least on systems without MMU protection --- 
some embedded systems, for example.  Ints are often used (not just in 
your own code but in library code) to index a jump table. If that index 
is a different number than you expected it to be, you could end up 
executing calling random "functions" in memory.  Said "functions" could 
(and probably would) crash within 1--2 instructions, but even then, it's 
not INCONCEIVABLE that those instructions could equate to "1) load hard 
drive device number into the first arg register; 2) call the OS 
format_drive function".

This all leaves the realm of remote possibility and enters the realm of 
unacceptable risk, at least for some software on some systems, when you 
factor in malicious individuals trying to manipulate what address gets 
called and/or what code is sitting at the address called, waiting to 

As I understand it, there are essentially three bugs that can cause a 
segfault: 1) write to memory you're not allowed to write to.  2) read 
memory you're not allowed to read from.  3) execute code in memory 
you're not allowed to execute code from.  The third kind of bug is 
basically saying "do anything you like computer, I don't care."  It's 
very much undefined behaviour, very much like calling a function pointer 
that's NULL.  Mostly, you get a segfault, thanks to the MMU, but in 
portable code, you can't depend on that -- either the compiler handles 
it, or you have to remember to check everything carefully, treating your 
coding environment as a hostile one, full of adversaries.


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