[cfe-dev] Strange AST behavior with C++ casts

Eli Friedman eli.friedman at gmail.com
Mon Oct 3 10:46:46 PDT 2011

On Mon, Oct 3, 2011 at 10:17 AM, Nicola Gigante
<nicola.gigante at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hello @clang.
> I'm working on a fix for a strange behavior of clang's
> AST regarding casts in C++.
> This issue has been pointed out before, mainly
> by Abramo Bagnara and Enea Zaffanella, but
> I'll briefly recap. Consider the following code:
> int func() {
>  return (int)0.5; // but also int(0.5) or static_cast<int>(0.5)
> }
> For this function, clang produces this AST:
> int func() (CompoundStmt
> (ReturnStmt
>  (CStyleCastExpr 'int' functional cast to int <NoOp> // Or CXXFunctionalCastExpr or CXXStaticCastExpr
>    (ImplicitCastExpr 'int' <FloatingToIntegral>
>      (FloatingLiteral 'double' 5.000000e-01)))))
> As you can see, the AST node for the explicit CStyle cast (or the static_cast, or the functional cast) is marked as
> NoOp, and the actual cast seems to be performed by an implicit cast expression that pops out of nowhere.
> What we would like to have is an AST like this, that is also what happens for a c-style cast in C mode:
> int func() (CompoundStmt
> (ReturnStmt
>  (CStyleCastExpr 'int' functional cast to int <FloatingToIntegral>
>    (FloatingLiteral 'double' 5.000000e-01)))))
> The main point here is that there seems to be an extra and useless node in the AST.
> This behavior introduces problems in some applications where we want, for example, to warn the user on
> useless casts or force the user to not write code that involves implicit casts. In general, this breaks clients that want
> an high AST source-code fidelity.
> The first question that arises is: is this behavior intended? If so, why?

No, not really... I agree with your analysis that it's an accident.

> Anyway, as I've inspected the code it seems to be accidental. The "wrong" behavior comes
> from TryStaticImplicitCast(), that is indirectly called by CheckStaticCast().
> IMHO, the function name already suggests that something's wrong, as in this case
> we are checking an "explicit" cast.
> This function tries to see if a static cast is applicable, and to do so, builds an initialization sequence that when performed creates the wrong ImplicitCastExpr node. It generally works as expected because,
> as pointed out by a nearby comment, a static_cast of expression e to type T can be
> done if "T t(e);" is well-formed. However, I think the initialization shouldn't really be performed
> as if that code had really been written. At this point, InitializationSequence::Perform() should
> have been told that it's an explicit cast.
> So, to recap:
> - Have I understood correctly why this issue happens?
> - Is it ok if I try to fix it? i.e. will this change in the AST cause problems in other parts of the compiler? (in this case, I would also fix them of course)
> - Any suggestions to how to fix the issue?

It sounds like you're correctly understanding what is happening.
Extending InitializationSequence::Perform to optionally return a cast
kind instead of actually performing the last cast in its sequence
seems reasonable.  Just try and make sure your patch isn't too


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