6 releases

0.2.0 Apr 6, 2022
0.1.4 Apr 5, 2022

#1136 in Rust patterns

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MIT license

494 lines


crates.io docs.rs Build Status

A crate for stuffing things into a pointer.

This crate is tested using miri (with -Zmiri-tag-raw-pointers).

stuff helps you to

  • Stuff arbitrary data into pointers
  • Stuff pointers or arbitrary data into fixed size storage (u64, u128)

in a portable and provenance friendly way.

It does by providing an abstraction around it, completely abstracting away the provenance and pointers from the user, allowing the user to do their bit stuffing only on integers (pointer addresses) themselves.

StuffedPtr is the main type of this crate. It's a type whose size depends on the choice of Backend (defaults to usize, u64 and u128 are also possible). It can store a pointer or some other data.

You can choose any arbitrary bitstuffing depending on the StuffingStrategy, an unsafe trait that governs how the other data (or the pointer itself) will be packed into the backend. While this trait is still unsafe, it's a lot safer than doing everything by hand.

Example: NaN-Boxing

Pointers are hidden in the NaN values of floats. NaN boxing often involves also hiding booleans or null in there, but we stay with floats and pointers (pointers to a HashMap that servers as our "object" type).

See crafting interpreters for more details.

use std::collections::HashMap;

use stuff::{StuffedPtr, StuffingStrategy};

// Create a unit struct for our strategy
struct NanBoxStrategy;

// implementation detail of NaN boxing, a quiet NaN mask
const QNAN: u64 = 0x7ffc000000000000; 
// implementation detail of NaN boxing, the sign bit of an f64
const SIGN_BIT: u64 = 0x8000000000000000; 

unsafe impl StuffingStrategy<u64> for NanBoxStrategy {
    type Other = f64;

    fn is_other(data: u64) -> bool {
        (data & QNAN) != QNAN

    fn stuff_other(inner: Self::Other) -> u64 {
        unsafe { std::mem::transmute(inner) } // both are 64 bit POD's

    unsafe fn extract_other(data: u64) -> Self::Other {
        std::mem::transmute(data) // both are 64 bit POD's

    fn stuff_ptr(addr: usize) -> u64 {
        // add the QNAN and SIGN_BIT
        SIGN_BIT | QNAN | u64::try_from(addr).unwrap()

    fn extract_ptr(inner: u64) -> usize {
        // keep everything except for QNAN and SIGN_BIT
        (inner & !(SIGN_BIT | QNAN)).try_into().unwrap()

// a very, very crude representation of an object
type Object = HashMap<String, u32>;

// our value type
type Value = StuffedPtr<Object, NanBoxStrategy, u64>;

fn main() {
    let float: Value = StuffedPtr::new_other(123.5);
    assert_eq!(float.copy_other(), Some(123.5));

    let object: Object = HashMap::from([("a".to_owned(), 457)]);
    let boxed = Box::new(object);
    let ptr: Value = StuffedPtr::new_ptr(Box::into_raw(boxed));

    let object = unsafe { &*ptr.get_ptr().unwrap() };
    assert_eq!(object.get("a"), Some(&457));

    drop(unsafe { Box::from_raw(ptr.get_ptr().unwrap()) });
    // be careful, `ptr` is a dangling pointer now!


stuffs current MSRV is 1.34.2. This version can get increased in a non-breaking change, but such changes are avoided unless necessary. Features requiring a newer Rust version might get gated behind optional features in the futurey.