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Rust / Dealing with Integer Overflow

Posted On 01.16.2022

Overflow can happen when doing integer arithmetics in Rust, for example:

let _ = 255u8 + 1;
let _ = 0u8 - 1;

Rust handle overflow differently between Debug and Release mode:

  • In debug mode, Rust includes checks for integer overflow that will panic at runtime.
  • In release mode, there is no integer overflow check, so, no panic. Instead, Rust will perform two’s complement wrapping, for the u8 type, the value 256 will be wrapped into 0, the value 257 will be wrapped into 1, while the value -1 will be wrapped into 255, and so on. Hence, be mindful that the values you get might not be the ones you expected. Or you can explicitly enable overflow check by adding overflow-checks = true to your Cargo.toml.

To deal with integer overflow, Rust provides some built-in functions for integer types so you can explicitly control the overflow behavior:

  • Wrapping the values with wrapping_* methods, like wrapping_add:

    u8::MAX.wrapping_add(2) == 1u8
    0u8.wrapping_sub(1) == u8::MAX
  • Returning a wrapped value, and an overflow indicator with overflowing_* methods:

    5u8.overflowing_add(1) == (6u8, false)
    u8::MAX.overflowing_add(1) == (0u8, true)
  • Check and return None if there is an overflow with checked_* methods:

    5u8.checked_add(1) == Some(6u8)
    u8::MAX.checked_add(1) == None
  • Saturate at the maximum or minimum value of the type with saturating_* methods:

    u8::MAX.saturating_add(5) == u8::MAX
    0u8.saturating_sub(5) == 0u8

To reduce boilerplates, Rust provides Wrapping<T> and Saturating<T> types to automatically provide the desired overflow behavior for your types:

use std::num::Saturating;
let a = Saturating(u32::MAX);
(a + 1).0 == u32::MAX

When casting between types, wrapping is the default behavior:

(257u32 as u8) == 1u8