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strcpy() when buffers overlap

Posted on 2003-03-28
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-05-18
I iknow it is eligal to strcpy() when the source and destination strings overlap, like

char S[10] = "ABC";

However, I need a copy of the section of the C standard that describes this.   Can someone post it along with the section number.
Question by:nietod
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Expert Comment

ID: 8228847
From the ANSI C Rational ()
*** Begin Quote ***
4.11.2  Copying functions
A block copy routine should be ``right'': it should work correctly even if the blocks being copied overlap.  Otherwise it is more difficult to correctly code such overlapping copy operations, and portability suffers because the optimal C-coded algorithm on one machine may be horribly slow on another.  
A block copy routine should be ``fast'': it should be implementable as a few inline instructions which take maximum advantage of any block copy provisions of the hardware.  Checking for overlapping copies produces too much code for convenient inlining in many implementations.  The programmer knows in a great many cases that the two blocks cannot possibly overlap, so the space and time overhead are for naught.  

These arguments are contradictory but each is compelling.  Therefore the Standard mandates two block copy functions: memmove is required to work correctly even if the source and destination overlap, while memcpy can presume nonoverlapping operands and be optimized accordingly.  
*** End Quote ***
strcpy() is based on the memcpy side of the house, and thus will not handle overlapping destination and source.

Expert Comment

ID: 8228862
Sorry, forgot the link:

Section is 4.11

Please note that the C standard is not freely available on the web, but the rational document is.
LVL 15

Expert Comment

ID: 8228926
Section of the 1999 C standard specifies strcpy.

The second sentence of paragraph 2, under "Description," says "If copying takes place between objects that overlap, the behavior is undefined."

The standard is ISO/IEC 9899:1999.
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LVL 22

Author Comment

ID: 8230089
Thanks efn, that's what I anm looking for.  could you give me that whole paragraph, and/or the whole section on strcpy() if possible.  (I assume you can copy and paste it and don't have to retype it.)
LVL 28

Accepted Solution

dpearson earned 400 total points
ID: 8231073  The strcpy function


#include <string.h>
char *strcpy(char * restrict s1,
const char * restrict s2);


[#2]  The strcpy function copies the string pointed to by s2
(including the terminating null character)  into  the  array
pointed  to  by  s1.  If copying takes place between objects
that overlap, the behavior is undefined.


[#3] The strcpy function returns the value of s1.

LVL 22

Author Comment

ID: 8231545

efn, you were a bit too slow, but I've posted a question with some points for you.

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