standards/56906: Several math(3) functions fail to set errno on a domain error

Bruce Evans bde at
Mon Sep 15 18:50:23 PDT 2003

The following reply was made to PR standards/56906; it has been noted by GNATS.

From: Bruce Evans <bde at>
To: Stefan Farfeleder <stefan at>
Cc: FreeBSD-gnats-submit at, freebsd-standards at
Subject: Re: standards/56906: Several math(3) functions fail to set errno on
 a domain error
Date: Tue, 16 Sep 2003 11:42:44 +1000 (EST)

 On Tue, 16 Sep 2003, Stefan Farfeleder wrote:
 > >Synopsis:       Several math(3) functions fail to set errno on a domain error
 This is intentional.
 > >Description:
 > ISO C90 says that errno must be set to EDOM if a domain error occurs.
 As you probably know, C99 doesn't require this.  FreeBSD, or at least I,
 decided not to support C90's relatively feeble and broken specification
 of floating point and wait for C99 to get it right.  The wait is long
 over and the nonstandardness is now a little different.
 As you may know, this existence of errno is basically a bug.  It is
 especially broken as designed for math functions because requiring the
 side effect of setting it breaks things like removing sqrt(x) (for x
 a loop consant) from loops unless the compiler is very clever about
 this side effect.  The compiler may also need to be clever about the
 side effect of possibly setting IEEE exception flags for sqrt(x), but
 the exception flags are sticky and low-level (unlike errno), so it
 doesn't need to be so clever.  I believe that C99 relaxed the requirement
 on setting errno to simplify such optimization.
 The current nonstandardness is mainly related to setting the exception
 flags, and many unimplemented functions.  The Sun parts of fdlibm
 attempt to set the exception flags, but were often defeated by invalid
 compile-time constant folding last time I checked (long ago).  The
 assembler parts are not very careful about the exception flags.
 > The cases where a domain error definitely has to occur are:
 > acos(x)		if |x| > 1,
 > asin(x)		if |x| > 1,
 > log(x)		if x < 0,
 > log10(x)	if x < 0,
 > sqrt(x)		if x < 0 and
 > pow(x, y)	if x < 0 && y not an integer or if x == 0 && y <= 0.
 > FreeBSD's libm fails to set errno on each of these cases even though the
 > man pages of acos, asin and sqrt claim conformance to C89/90.
 Oops.  The man pages even claim to set errno.
 > >Fix:
 > Compiling msun with -D_POSIX_MODE fixes the setting of errno.  I have no
 > idea if this breaks other parts of libm though; there don't seem to be
 > any regression tests for libm.
 It is safe enough for strict C90, but it adds overhead.  For unstrict
 C90 == C90 less errno plus IEEEish extensions, and for C99 with IEEE
 support, it breaks returning NaNs for domain errors.  E.g., it causes
 acos(2.0) to return the preposterous nonstandard value 0 with errno
 set to EDOM instead of a relatively standard non-value "NaN" with errno
 unchanged.  See k_standard.c.  It should not adjust the value except
 possibly in the (_LIB_VERSION == _SVID_) case, but k_standard.c is
 not passed the original value and I was too lazy to fix its interface.

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