Incorrect Use of Autoboxing and Unboxing for Performance Critical Operations

The code uses boxed primitives, which may introduce inefficiencies into performance-critical operations.


Description

Languages such as Java and C# support automatic conversion through their respective compilers from primitive types into objects of the corresponding wrapper classes, and vice versa. For example, a compiler might convert an int to Integer (called autoboxing) or an Integer to int (called unboxing). This eliminates forcing the programmer to perform these conversions manually, which makes the code cleaner.

However, this feature comes at a cost of performance and can lead to resource exhaustion and impact availability when used with generic collections. Therefore, they should not be used for scientific computing or other performance critical operations. They are only suited to support "impedance mismatch" between reference types and primitives.

Demonstrations

The following examples help to illustrate the nature of this weakness and describe methods or techniques which can be used to mitigate the risk.

Note that the examples here are by no means exhaustive and any given weakness may have many subtle varieties, each of which may require different detection methods or runtime controls.

Example One

Java has a boxed primitive for each primitive type. A long can be represented with the boxed primitive Long. Issues arise where boxed primitives are used when not strictly necessary.

Long count = 0L;
for (long i = 0; i < Integer.MAX_VALUE; i++) {
  count += i;

}

In the above loop, we see that the count variable is declared as a boxed primitive. This causes autoboxing on the line that increments. This causes execution to be magnitudes less performant (time and possibly space) than if the "long" primitive was used to declare the count variable, which can impact availability of a resource.

Example Two

This code uses primitive long which fixes the issue.

long count = 0L;
for (long i = 0; i < Integer.MAX_VALUE; i++) {
  count += i;

}

See Also

Bad Coding Practices

Weaknesses in this category are related to coding practices that are deemed unsafe and increase the chances that an exploitable vulnerability will be present in the ap...

Comprehensive CWE Dictionary

This view (slice) covers all the elements in CWE.

Weaknesses without Software Fault Patterns

CWE identifiers in this view are weaknesses that do not have associated Software Fault Patterns (SFPs), as covered by the CWE-888 view. As such, they represent gaps in...

Weaknesses Introduced During Implementation

This view (slice) lists weaknesses that can be introduced during implementation.


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