why i^=j^=i^=j isn't equal to *i^=*j^=*i^=*j

In C, when there are variables (assume both as int) i less than j, we can use the equation


to exchange the value of the two variables. For example, let int i = 3, j = 5; after computed i^=j^=i^=j, I have i = 5, j = 3.

However, if I use two int pointers to re-do this, with *i^=*j^=*i^=*j, using the example above, what I have will be i = 0 and j = 3.

In C

    int i=3, j=5;
    i^=j^=i^=j; // after this i = 5, j=3
    int i = 3, j= 5;
    int *pi = &i, *pj = &j;
    *pi^=*pj^=*pi^=*pj; // after this, $pi = 0, *pj = 5

In JavaScript

    var i=3, j=5;
    i^=j^=i^=j; // after this, i = 0, j= 3

the result in JavaScript makes this more interesting to me

my sample code , on ubuntu server 11.0 & gcc

    #include <stdio.h>
    int main(){
        int i=7, j=9;
        int *pi=&i, *pj=&j;
        printf("i=%d j=%d\n", i, j);
        i=7, j=9;
        printf("i=%d j=%d\n", *pi, *pj);

undefined behavior in c

Will the undefined behavior in c be the real reason leads to this question?


code compiled use visual studio 2005 on windows 7 produce the expected result ( Output i = 7, j = 9 twice.)


code compiled use gcc on ubuntu ( gcc test.c ) produce the unexpected result ( Output i = 7, j = 9 then i = 0, j = 9 )


code compiled use gcc on ubuntu ( gcc -O test.c ) produce the expected result ( Output i = 7,j = 9 twice. )


i^=j^=i^=j is undefined behavior in C.

You are violating sequence points rules by modifying i two times between two sequence points.

It means the implementation is free to assign any value or even make your program crash.

For the same reason, *i^=*j^=*i^=*j is also undefined behavior.

(C99, 6.5p2) "Between the previous and next sequence point an object shall have its stored value modified at most once by the evaluation of an expression."

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