Dereferencing type-punned pointer will break strict-aliasing rules

The problem occurs because you access a char-array through a double*:

char data[8];
return *(double*)data;

But gcc assumes that your program will never access variables though pointers of different type. This assumption is called strict-aliasing and allows the compiler to make some optimizations:

If the compiler knows that your *(double*) can in no way overlap with data[], it’s allowed to all sorts of things like reordering your code into:

return *(double*)data;
for(int i=7;i>=0;i--)
    data[i] = fgetc(stream);

The loop is most likely optimized away and you end up with just:

return *(double*)data;

Which leaves your data[] uninitialized. In this particular case the compiler might be able to see that your pointers overlap, but if you had declared it char* data, it could have given bugs.

But, the strict-aliasing rule says that a char* and void* can point at any type. So you can rewrite it into:

double data;
*(((char*)&data) + i) = fgetc(stream);
return data;

Strict aliasing warnings are really important to understand or fix. They cause the kinds of bugs that are impossible to reproduce in-house because they occur only on one particular compiler on one particular operating system on one particular machine and only on full-moon and once a year, etc.

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