[petsc-dev] clang --analyze messages on PETSc

Lisandro Dalcin dalcinl at gmail.com
Wed Apr 15 03:32:18 CDT 2015

I have to competing branches attempting to fix the issues with PetscMalloc.

1) https://bitbucket.org/petsc/petsc/branch/dalcinl/petscmalloc-0

Currently, PetscMallocAlign just calls malloc(size) and generates an
error if the result is NULL. Given that PetscMalloc is a direct call
to PetscMallocAlign() in optimized builds, and this has been the case
at least since release 3.5, it is interesting to note that malloc(0)
returning NULL seems to be rare nowadays.

This branch follows Matt's ideas by fixing PetscMallocAlign(0) to
return NULL. However, I DO NOT like this behavior.

2) https://bitbucket.org/petsc/petsc/branch/dalcinl/petscmalloc-1

This one no longer special-cases zero-sized allocations. It fixes all
the PetscMallocK() macros.

If we ever find a system where system malloc(0) returns NULL, we can
use an obvious approach like in Python sources:

Matt argued that this could lead to inaccurate memory logging, but
hey, this is just for for some special systems, and I do not expect
that 1 byte for each malloc(0) call will be relevant.

All that being said, I vote for option (2).

On 15 April 2015 at 03:51, Jed Brown <jed at jedbrown.org> wrote:
> Matthew Knepley <knepley at gmail.com> writes:
>> I am arguing for uniformity. With the current system, all internal PETSc
>> mallocs (we are supposed to use PetscMallocK everywhere)
>> will return NULL for 0 size argument. On the other hand, if you just
>> forward the request to malloc, the standard says it can return
>> a valid pointer OR NULL, so now we have different behavior. What is worse
>> is that this "valid" pointer can be freed, but it cannot
>> be dereferenced, and there is no way to determine that it cannot be
>> dereferenced, unlike NULL. I see absolutely no good argument
>> for this situation.
> You have to store the size somewhere anyway and usually looping
> constructs are empty if the array has length zero.  Guaranteeing NULL
> means you can have logic like
>   if (a) a[0] = 1;
> or
>   if (len) a[0] = 1;
> If a could be non-NULL, then there is only one way to write the check
> (and it encourages using logic constructs with fewer branches).

Lisandro Dalcin
Research Scientist
Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Sciences & Engineering (CEMSE)
Numerical Porous Media Center (NumPor)
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)

4700 King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
al-Khawarizmi Bldg (Bldg 1), Office # 4332
Thuwal 23955-6900, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Office Phone: +966 12 808-0459

More information about the petsc-dev mailing list