Lets start this post by recalling what the gosp^H^H^H^Hstandard has to say about unsigned arithmetic:

A computation involving unsigned operands can never overflow, because a result that cannot be represented by the resulting unsigned integer type is reduced modulo the number that is one greater than the largest value that can be represented by the resulting unsigned integer type.

This is from the C89 draft (, statements to the same effect are present in the C99 standard (6.2.5p9) and the C++ standards.

Now consider the following program:

#include <stdio.h>

int main(void)
        unsigned int count = 0;

        do {
                printf("%u\n", count);
                count += 1;
        } while (count != 0);

        return 0;

Since count starts at zero and is incremented each time through the loop, the standard tells us it will wrap to zero when it reaches a result that cannot be represented by an unsigned int, making the program terminate. Compiling the program with various compilers gives the expected stream of increasing numbers.

However, if you compile it with cl.exe from Visual C++ using the /O2 switch (maximize speed) you get a somewhat surprising result; a single zero and the program exits. This goes for VC6, VC7 and VC71.

If you initialize count to one instead, the program works fine. So it looks like the optimizer fails to recognize the addition as changing the value of count, and thus optimizes away the loop.

I have not tested the various VC8 betas, so if you have any of them installed, feel free to try it out and post your results (just remember to compile from the command-line using cl.exe and /O2).