[llvm-dev] Infinite loops with no side effects

Dan Gohman via llvm-dev llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org
Thu Oct 26 22:08:57 PDT 2017


This email picks up the thread that to my knowledge was last discussed here:


In brief, infinite loops containing no side effects produce undefined
behavior in C++ (and C in some cases), however in other languages, they
have fully defined behavior. LLVM's optimizer currently assumes that
infinite loops eventually terminate in a few places, and will sometimes
delete them in practice. There is currently no clean way to opt out of this
behavior from languages where it's not valid.

This is the subject of a long-standing LLVM bug:


I wrote a patch implementing Chandler's idea from the above thread,
@llvm.sideeffect, a new intrinsic which is a no-op except that it tells the
optimizer to behave as if there were side effects present:


Similar results can be achieved with empty inline asms, however they tend
to pessimize optimizations. The patch above allows all of the major
optimizations to work in the presence of @llvm.sideeffect.

One of the concerns raised is that front-ends would have to emit a lot of
these intrinsics, potentially one in every loop, one in every function (due
to opportunistic tail-call optimization), and one in front of every label
reachable by goto or similar, if a front-end can't determine when they
aren't needed. This is indeed a downside. It's mitigated in this patch by
making sure that the major optimization passes aren't pessimized.

>From the alternatives I've read, the most promising alternative is Reid's
proposal here:


to make infinite loops defined by default, and add a "known to be
productive" attribute to functions. It would be a more complex change, and
could potentially require changes in out-of-tree codebases. And it would be
suboptimal in some cases when cross-language inlining. However, it would
solve the problem in a much less cluttered way. I'm willing to implement
the LLVM portion of this if there's consensus that it's a better approach.


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