[cfe-dev] Not exception-safe default move constructors (demonstrated on std::pair)

Howard Hinnant hhinnant at apple.com
Thu Feb 21 13:31:49 PST 2013

On Feb 21, 2013, at 2:58 PM, Dmitry Marakasov <amdmi3 at amdmi3.ru> wrote:

> Hi!
> It turns out that default move constructors are not exception-safe -
> e.g. when an object is constructed with move constructor, it may happen
> that some of its members are constructed with move constuctors, then
> others with copy constructors. In case of such a copy constructor
> throwing an exception, already moved members will be freed, and original
> object will be left with a set of empty memebers.
> The problem is described here:
> http://cpp-next.com/archive/2009/10/exceptionally-moving/
> and may be demonstrated on std::pair:
> - You have two classes:
>  A, which has a proper move constructor which doesn't throw
>  B, which which only has copy constructor which may throw
> - You have an std::pair<A, B>
> - You move a pair
>  std::pair<A, B> pair1;
>  try {
>    std::pair<A, B> pair2(std::move(a));
>  }
> What happens:
> - A part is constructed with move ctor. This is obviously destructive
>  to pair1.
> - B part is constructed with copy ctor, as it doesn't have move constuctor.
> - Now, that copy constructor throws (which is pretty expectable is it
> likely allocates resources). After this, as A part was already moved,
> we're left with corrupted pair1 (with empty A part).
> The same problem applies to most containers, but, for example, in
> std::vector it is solved by checking whether a template type has
> non-throwing move constructor.
> However, with pair this does not apply:
> --- utility header from libc++
> struct pair {
>    ...
>    pair(pair&&) = default;
> ---
> Either the default constructor generated by clang is unsafe, or there
> should be custom, safe move constuctor with corresponding enable_if.
> I lean towards the former, as safe default move constuctors should be
> always generated probably, and specific ones may be really hard to
> implement for more complex types (tuples).
> I've written a small program which demonstrates the problem:
> https://gist.github.com/AMDmi3/5005557
> tested it on FreeBSD current with clang-3.2 and libc++.
> The same problem also exists with gcc/libstdc++.

You have rediscovered the motivation behind:
template <class T>
typename conditional
   !is_nothrow_move_constructible<T>::value &&
     const T&,
move_if_noexcept(T& x) noexcept;

If you are in a situation where you need the strong exception guarantee, but prefer move over copy if you can get away it, use std::move_if_noexcept.

If move is noexcept, you'll get a move, else you'll get a copy, unless T is not copy constructible, in which case you'll got back to a move.


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