Excessive optimization (was Re: what was VMS/OpenVMS written in?)

Ethan Dicks ethan.dicks at gmail.com
Thu Dec 2 14:59:30 CST 2010

On Thu, Dec 2, 2010 at 3:32 PM, Richard <legalize at xmission.com> wrote:
> In article <AANLkTi=9NwjfxZvaz2H-btkzt8q-c9ErbpNYW+hMfMe=@mail.gmail.com>,
>    Ethan Dicks <ethan.dicks at gmail.com> writes:
>> I have used the following in embedded code to tight-loop the CPU in
>> certain circumstances, intentionally requiring a reset of the
>> processor to escape...
>> for (;;)
>>   ;
> I don't see how this is an infinite loop requiring reset of the
> processor to escape since the condition clause is empty.
>  In fact,
> since the condition clause is empty, I'm not even sure its
> syntactically valid, but C is strange enough that it may be
> syntactically valid but not intuititve.

It is valid.  C does not require that all (or in fact any) portion of
the for() construct be populated, so with no condition clause, the
loop will never exit without a break;  The following line is a valid
statement in C for "no operation", a lexical placeholder.  It should
evaluate the same as "{ }".  The whole effect is to say "forever, do
nothing".  Running on a machine with a modern operating system, your
process should loop endlessly until killed.  On an embedded processor
(the context I mentioned at the start), there's no "process" as such,
so nothing to be killed, and with no programmatic escape from the
loop, all you can do is restart the processor.

I've used it as a "hang forever" debugging token to let me step
through bits of embedded code and go no further - that way, I can
reset the machine, watch various things happen, I/O lines change
state, etc., then know that below a certain point in the code,
activity beyond fetching the same address endlessly will cease.

I wouldn't want my C compiler to optimize out the null-statement since
it "does nothing".  It does nothing forever, but it does it


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