floating point exception (SIGFPE weirdness)

Andrew Straw strawman at NOSPAM-DELETE-THIS.astraw.com
Wed Aug 11 01:11:10 CEST 2004

I'm running into trouble when calling a 3rd party library (the Intel IPP 
library to do some fast math on a P4 processor).  This is on debian 
linux 2.6.7 using python 2.3.4.

I've been using Pyrex to wrap my calls to this C library into an 
extension module, and a certain function call within my extension module 
(to the C function ippiAddWeighted_8u32f_C1IR) will terminate my Python 
program when called for the 2nd time, with the line "Floating point 
exception" mysteriously appearing on the console.  (Mysterious in part 
because I can't redirect these words with piping stdout or stderr.)  I 
should note that this function calls not only the normal Pentium 
floating-point machinery, but should also call the SSE and SSE2 
instruction sets.

A few clues:

1) A trivial C program which makes the same function call repeatedly 
with the same data is not terminated.

2) Running the python executable under gdb causes the program to 
continue running without terminating.

3) The behavior (termination) is not changed after rebuilding Python 
from source, compiling with --with-fpectl and building the fpectl 
module, calling fpectl.turnoff_sigfpe().

I don't really understand what is happening, but I'd like my code to run 
without terminating due to this floating point exception. My best guess 
is that SIGFPE is being generated by the C function call, and Python 
does not catch it so the OS terminates Python.  If this is so, however, 
I'm not sure why Python should be terminated and why my simple C program 
is not.  Furthermore, I don't understand why gdb doesn't see SIGFPE if 
this is the case.

I would be very grateful if someone could tell me how to keep my program 


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