to all of the statistical nerds out there counting memory errors in to justify the existence of : a logic error in a system that uses explicit memory management often culminates in a memory error. That doesn't make it a memory management error, it's still a logic error, and patching it up with more memory management is over-complicated at best and silently incorrect at worst.

@namark I don't think "patching with more memory management" is accurate. Rust focuses on *correctness* of ownership and mutability, especially at compile time.

By analogy to types: a logic error in a dynamically typed language often culminates in a type confusion ("undefined is not a function"). Does it mean that statically typed languages solving it with "more types" are over-complicated and silently incorrect at worst?

@namark In a statically typed language you annotate functions with types, so that when you make a logic error that causes passing nonsense data, it will be caught at compile time.

Rust is just a logical extension of that idea. You annotate functions also with memory management rules, so that when you make a logic error that causes incorrect sharing or freeing of data, it will be caught at compile time.

@kornel yes I would not count type errors such as "undefined is not a function" in dynamically typed language to statistically evaluate the usefulness of static typing, because I know there would be a lot of false positive that are caused by logic errors and not typing errors. Type conversion is a fix for a type error but it would not fix the underlying logic error. You have to fully understand the code, follow some guidelines or get lucky to identify the logic error from the type error, even if it is reported to you at compile time.

Correctness of memory management is not correctness of program.

@namark I'm surprised you're not seeing the analogy. Do you really not think that statically typed languages reduce defects in programs?

If you had traced 2/3rds of your bugs to type confusion (two + two == "22"), wouldn't you like static typing that makes these problems literally impossible to happen?
Note that rewrite from dynamic types to static types is not merely a hack that casts values, it's a logic-bug-discovering exercise, e.g. urllib3 found *logic* bugs

@namark but besides, your reduction of Rust to just memory management is still inaccurate.

Rust also has sum types. Option replaces null, and makes it a compile-time error to not check for absence of a value. Result won't let you use values without checking for error condition.

Automatic destruction means there are no risky "goto cleanup" with confused state.

Mutex wrapping its content ensures you literally can't make a mistake of accessing the data without locking the mutex first.

@namark I also disagree with the generalization that all memory errors are symptoms of logic errors. They sometimes are, but there's also a fair share of just stupid direct mistakes, like not handling integer overflow in buffer sizes (e.g. stagerfright exploit) or using different buffer length when allocating vs copying. These can be eliminated by construction (you can't have a logic bug in code that doesn't need to be written).

@kornel you are either completely missing the point, or intentionally derailing now, go read the OP, I'm talking about statistic of memory errors in c++, and it's use as an indication of how important/common memory errors that rust eliminates are. It's useless because most logic errors result in memory errors in c++. You are counting these logic errors towards your total of memory management errors. And once again logic errors are not memory errors, that's what I'm trying to explain to you, while you keep imagining that I said that all memory errors are logic errors.

@namark I understand, and I think the statistic is still valid.

1. There are memory errors that are directly related to "logic" of memory management, not a symptom of a deeper error, and fixing just memory management would fix 100% of the problem, with absolutely no hidden more problems.

2. Rust does not just focus on the case 1 as you imply. It does prevent deeper logic errors too, so it can help with ultimate root causes of logic errors that manifest as memory errors.


3. in secure contexts merely stopping exploits matters, even if it doesn't fix things properly (that's why we have sandboxes etc.). A logically buggy program that misbehaves, mangles data, and crashes is still better than a program that misbehaves and allows RCE instead of crashing.

So even if your presumption that Rust fixes merey memory errors, and lets other bugs fester behind a coat of paint, that is still a valuable improvement for safety.

@kornel now you are literally arguing that most logic errors are memory errors, that's how religious you are about your beloved language.

Here is a pseudocode example to demonstrate to you a logic error, that results in a memory error, that is not itself a memory error, or has nothing to do with memory management. This is apparently utterly incomprehensible to you:

got some resource x
some operation that invalidates x
use x

memory error on last line... how do you solve this problem? You could replace the first operation with equivalent that does not invalidate. You could replace x with an equivalent shared resource that does not invalidate on that operation. You may take a copy of x, and keep the original for use after invalidation. You may rearrange the code so that the second use comes before the condition. All of these options will solve the memory error, but none of them would be correct. The correct solution in this contrived example is to return early in the condition body(or add an else after the if, or whatever other branching technique you use), and never use x in that case, because it was an error condition for that particular subroutine. You will never know this from the memory error alone, you need to understand the business logic of the piece of code, to figure that out. The memory error was not the cause, or even a hint of what the problem is. In fact it was a distraction.

And fixing memory errors without fixing the logic is not better than nothing, it's worse, because it complicates the code and lets the underlying logic error "fester behind a coat of paint". Otherwise it's a segfault. Both are equally bad for security but that is beside the point. Any discussion of silent bugs vs a loud bugs is about development and maintenance, not security. For security any kind of bug in a critical part of the program is a disaster.

I'm not saying that logic errors are memory errors. You've misinterpreted my "there exists" statement as "for all".

I'm saying that there are memory errors (let's say a half of bugs classified as memory errors) that are just shallow and not a symptom of anything beyond memory management problem itself. For example, if you forget to multiply a buffer size in `malloc` by the `sizeof(element)` that's all there is. You fix the buffer size, and the bug is fixed entirely.

@namark As for your example, it is interesting, and it is what Rust addresses.

You would get an error such as "x used after a move".

Rust functions define ownership, so "some operation" could invalidate x only if took ownership. Therefore, returning in that conditional would be the only way to make it compile. Unless you decide to refactor "some operation" to borrow temporarily instead, and then the caller would have a choice.

@namark You're claiming that this complicates and distracts, but I disagree.

Functions clearly declaring if they invalidate or only view their inputs clarify their intent. They require programmers to think which is the right solution (with guidance from the compiler).

In Rust you would not get a segfault either way. Not because it'd hide the memory error, but because it'd force logically correct sharing or moving of data, according to how function interfaces are explicitly designed for.

@kornel are you even reading what I'm writing or are you just a rust commercial? I don't think I can chew it up any further for you, just try again if you will, and present a better argument, I can't engage any further with you bringing up points unrelated to what I'm saying, I'll have to just repeat myself.

@namark We're clearly talking past each other.

I think I understand your argument, but we have different perspective and assumptions, so when presented with the same information, we draw different conclusions. That's why I'm trying to add context/background to the discussion which affects my judgement, but you may find it unrelated or irrelevant, because that's not what you have based your judgement on.

@kornel you are assuming I don't know the very basics of the languages I'm talking about and spewing out unrelated marketing slogans. But alright I'll try one more time and hope you'll put a bit more effort into it. I assure you, I'm not trying to destroy you favorite language, or definitively prove that it is entirely useless (I'll do that later maybe). I'm making a very specific point. So here we go again:

Memory errors are not impossible in rust, they are possible they just happen at compile time. My example was in pseudo code and conceptual, so whether the error happens at compile time or runtime doesn't matter. My point is that the error in question has nothing to do with memory management, and cannot be solved with memory management techniques, it's a completely unrelated logic error. If you solve the memory error in the most obvious way you will not solve the logic error. You can satisfy the rust compiler, but the problem will still remain. Therefore rust by the virtue of being rust does not eliminate this class of errors that statistically you would count as memory errors in C++, because that's how they are more often than not manifested technically. If you find yourself inclined to pursue the route of "it's better than nothing" again, I addressed that when I presented the example and in the OP, so please take that into consideration and continue with arguments from that point. If you think that regardless of all of that rust is still useful, that's fine, but irrelevant.

@kornel *but irrelevant in this particular context

@namark I think your example is a good demonstration of a legitimate problem.

I do agree that the solution may not be most straightforward "add return" (which is the one that Rust would suggest for invalidating function).

@namark I assume you're arguing that "if 70 out of 100 of bugs are 'memory error' bugs, then with Rust you'd still have the ~70 bugs, but they would be classified as logic bugs".

Which I think is too pessimistic. I estimate it would be more like 5 memory bugs remaining unfixed + 20 bugs still hiding as logic bugs, but I would expect the majority to be truly correctly prevented or fixed.

Here's why:

@kornel Your latest reply in this thread finally makes sense to me, you can put it right after the OP and it will fit perfectly. It's also fortunate that you have split it exactly here, as for the purposes of this argument I can't meaningfully engage with your opinions and prediction regarding the statistic. I'll read them, but can't promise I'll have much to say.

The only direct argument I see here is your implication that my own opinions and prediction regarding the statistic are somehow relevant to the argument I'm trying to make. They are not. I've presented a class of errors that potentially invalidate or heavily skew any naive memory error statistic, so the burden is now on the "statistical nerds out there counting memory errors in to justify the existence of " to empirically prove that their statistics are not significantly affected by this. Any other argument will not be a statistical argument. You just can't deduce statistics. You might as well present your arguments without the statistic at that point.

Now I also think that it is practically impossible to actually diligently identify all such logic errors, so I expect them to instead resort to some high arcane probabilistic sampling mambo-jumbo, which being way beyond my comprehension will force me to concede and issue a public apology to the international community of "statistical nerds out there counting memory errors in to justify the existence of " for helping to refine their statistics.

Also from a cursory glance at the split thread, I see you keep going back to the "it's better than noting" argument, with the "better know in advance" formulation, so I'll try to elaborate on that more: Better to know what in advance? That you have a memory error when you actually have a logic error? What it takes from you to identify the logic error from the memory error, is exactly the same as what it takes to not make the error - overall expressiveness of the code, familiarity with the codebase and time. You have these things - you will not make the logic error. You don't have them - you will patch the false positive memory error and leave the logic error as a time-bomb, or at the very least an unnecessary hurdle for the future readers, compromising the overall expressiveness of the code, anyone's familiarity with the code-base, and everyone's time. In my eyes both outcomes of "hidden logic error", or "indirectly mitigated logic error" are simply worse than "unknown logic error", but even if you think that one of them is worse while the other is better, overall it makes things equal, that is rust does not definitively address these any better than c++ does, so they are still false positives in the statistics of "errors that rust will fix because it's memory safe", or even "errors that rust will help with because it's memory safe".

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@kornel this is beside the main point, but you seem to imply here that rust will suggest an early return in my example, which would be absolutely bonkers, so I decided to try it out

the early return might be obvious to you because I told you it's an error condition, but otherwise I don't think it's obvious at all.

@kornel It's also funny that the compiler chooses to explain default move semantics in such an apologetic fashion. If it's so unnatural, that you need to explain in great detail, why make it default? In c++ the move would have been explicit, no need to explain, it's there, someone wrote it so they obviously didn't want the value to be used from that point on, there is no question whether they wanted a copy or a shared state or reference semantics.

@namark Rust explains the problem using Rust's terminology. Understanding it is part of learning the language. It's "apologetic" (trying to be precise and helpful), because strict ownership is difficult for people coming from languages that doesn't enforce it.

Move by default is an excellent default. It avoids unintentional copies, without subtleties of RVO &etc.

Rust also doesn't allow an empty state after move, which catches additional logic bugs, and makes dtor codegen better.

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@namark Are you familiar with the Tullock Spike argument?

That cars would have been safer if they all had a sharp spike sticking straight out of the steering wheel. Drivers being clearly aware of the danger would pay more attention, drive better, and therefore a clearly less safe car would be safer in practice.

@namark So I think your argument about paying attention to more than just satisfying memory safety is a light variant of the tullock spike argument. Programmers shouldn't let their guard down by compiler fixing the immediate problem, and should remain focus and alert about deeper issues in the program. Therefore, making it too easy to solve memory management makes programmers complacent/lazy/inattentive to other, possibly more important issues.

@namark yes, so what Rust does, it doesn't let you compile it, so you would try and fix the problem, which would lead you to finding the logical error. It's not like Rust can somehow force you to fix only the memory management aspect separate from the underlying logic.

@isagalaev you can fix the memory issue that is reported to you, by introducing shared state or a copy where by program logic there should not be any shared state or a copy, making your memory management perfect, while your logical invariants are still utterly broken. Otherwise you need to understand the code regardless of the memory management to identify the logic error that led to a memory error or whatever else side effects. The point is when you count memory errors you get a metric ton of false positive logic errors in a language where memory is managed explicitly.

@namark I'm not going to argue that a determined programmer is perfectly able to sabotage their own code by insisting to fix errors in the most superficial, ill-advised way just to prove to the world that their dislike towards a language was justified :-)

@isagalaev I apologize I rustled your jimmies by speaking ill of your favorite language, but, wile I enjoy doing that periodically otherwise, notice please that I did not do that in the OP or my previous reply to your previous reply. My argument is rather specific, that rust's memory/resource safety does not guarantee mechanical elimination of all bugs naively deemed memory errors in c++. If you have an argument against that, please present it directly, and stop imagining that I'm trying to definitively prove rust useless for all intents and purposes with those couple of sentences I wrote in the OP. I might do that some other time, but with many more sentences.

If your argument is simply that in the cases I'm describing here, the good rust programmers will do the right thing, cause of the general expressiveness of the language, the same can be said about c++ (for the purposes of not making those logic errors in the first place), so it is in no way an advantage of rust to be counted in the statistic of "problem rust will definitely fix".

If your argument is that it is better than nothing, I will again point out that a wrong fix for a logic error is just as bad as the logic error, and rust in no way guarantees that it will be fixed correctly, as there is a myriad of ways to fix memory errors without addressing the underlying logic errors (and I'm talking about those cases where these underlying logic errors exist). You are back to square one with that, again relying on discipline of the programmer and general expressiveness of the language, not the memory safety.

Finally if your argument is that you predict that these logic errors that result in memory errors in c++ are not common enough to significantly affect any statistic, I would have to point our that your prediction, however justified, is not a statistical argument, so you might as well present it without collecting any statistics.

These are the more or less direct arguments I've encountered in this expansive subthread with @kornel, if you are interested:

Please also keep in mind that if you are not a member of the "statistical nerds out there counting memory errors in c++ to justify the existence of rust" then the OP is not directly calling you out, regardless of your marital status with rust.

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