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I've been bitten by this while using a genetic algorithm. I had "random-looking" bit patterns (the genomes) filling almost 2Gbytes of memory space, and the Boehm collector was mistaking almost half of the words for possible pointers. It eventually reached a tipping point where the values it couldn't free contained enough "pseudopointers" to prevent it from freeing anything else, and crashed.
That's misidentifying non-pointers as pointer, which is a performance issue (which in worst case can cause out-of-memory problems). There are various ways to tweak/tune Boehm GC to reduce that. Clearly including 2G of non-pointer data in the conservatively scanned heap is likely to lose! Boehm GC can be used in a hybrid mode, using precise scanning for part or all of the heap. This is what GCJ does. The problem Tom is referring to is (I assume) misidentifying a pointer as a non-pointer. That can happen if: (a) You didn't tell the collector to scan the area containing the pointer (most common problem). (b) the pointer is "mangled", either through "clever" coding (such as the xor-trick for double-linked lists) or an optimizing compiler being to clever. The former is a 'don't do that". The latter is very rare, but can conceivably happen if the compiler generates an offsetted pointer while without leaving any reference to the actual object start. Boehm GC can be configured to also check "interior pointers"; this reduces the problem, this hurts performance. See http://www.hpl.hp.com/personal/Hans_Boehm/gc/issues.html especially the "Safety" section. Tom Lord wrote: > On a hunch, you review some of > the functions that you think your program is exercising to an unusual > degree and, sure enough -- find a conservative GC bug. What kind of "cerservative GC bug"? Is this with the Boehm GC? Are these C functions, Scheme functions, or what? Is it an optimizer bug? -- --Per Bothner per@xxxxxxxxxxx http://per.bothner.com/