[Numpy-discussion] Problems testing the floating point flags

Charles R Harris charlesr.harris@gmail....
Sat Nov 13 20:41:32 CST 2010

Hi All,

This is in reference to numpy ticket
#1671<http://projects.scipy.org/numpy/ticket/1671>and the comments on
request 13 <https://github.com/numpy/numpy/pull/13>. The original problem
was that the gcc compiler was reordering the instructions so that the
floating point flags were tested before the computation that needed to be
checked. The compiler couldn't know that the flags were being tested in the
original code because it didn't know that about PyUFunc_getfperr(), although
the fact that floating point computations have side effects should probably
have limited any code reordering given that unknown. However, even when the
macro using the glibc function fetestexcept was used the problem persisted.
This is a known bug <http://gcc.gnu.org/bugzilla/show_bug.cgi?id=29186>against
gcc >= 4.1 that hasn't been addressed in the last four years and it seems
unlikely that it will be fixed anytime soon. The upshot is that there is no
reliable way to check the floating point flags using either PyUFunc_getfperr
or the macro UFUNC_CHECK_STATUS.

Enter the ugly workarounds. If a floating point operation produces a value,
it is possible to pass a void pointer to that value as a dummy argument to a
flag checking routine which will force the value to be computed before the
function is called. There are other games that can be played with volatile
but I am not convinced that they are robust or portable across compilers. An
added complication is that PyUFunc_getfperr is part of the numpy API and the
macro UFUNC_CHECK_STATUS is public so if we add workarounds they need new
names. There is also the question if we want to expose them. In any case,
suggestions as to names and approaches are welcome. And if anyone has a
better solution it would be great to hear it.

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