[Numpy-discussion] strict aliasing?

David Cournapeau david@ar.media.kyoto-u.ac...
Mon May 5 01:58:57 CDT 2008

Charles R Harris wrote:
> Interesting article. I note that it is OK to alias pointers to the 
> signed and unsigned versions of integer types, which is where I must 
> have picked up my notions about length. I don't recall seeing any 
> major bit of software that didn't use the -fno-strict-aliasing flag, 
> as casting pointers around is one of the things C is(was) all about. 
> So I was a bit surprised that Mike was recommending not doing so, 
> although making the choice on a file by file basis might be useful for 
> the optimizer.

Well, as for the case of Linus' comments on LKML, you have to take 
things into context, I think: this is an article about programming the 
Cell CPU on the PS3. And if there is one domain where performance 
matters a lot, it is the video game domain, and the complexity of modern 
video games is several orders higher than most HPC softwares (the 80/20 
rule is mostly a fallacy in video games). So everything counts.

C99 introduces several rules related to aliasing, as mentioned in the 
article, so I am not sure you can say that C point is about aliasing 
pointers. Seeing what happens with strict aliasing on a file per file 
basis would be interesting (for example, in the ufunc code: at this 
point, there is no aliasing possible anymore I think).

It is also mentioned that a lot of code can be made "strict aliasing" 
safe: I don't know how far we could go in numpy. It would be quite 
difficult, I guess, because you would have to use special code path 
depending on whether there is potential aliasing or not.



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