EntangledLoops EntangledLoops - 2 months ago 11x
C++ Question

Ambiguous call to abs

I have a custom data type that in practice can be either

. On every OS except OSX, I am able to successfully build this C++11 template:

#include <cmath>
#include <cstdlib>
#include <cstdint>
template< class REAL_T >
inline REAL_T inhouse_abs(REAL_T i_val)
return std::abs((REAL_T)i_val);
int main() {
int32_t ui = 2;
return 0;

However, clang 6.0 (3.5 LLVM) reports an ambiguous function call. If I change
, the error is resolved on OSX, but now an identical error shows up on my Linux clang, gcc, and Visual Studio.

Error on Visual Studio with fabs:

349 error C2668: 'fabs' : ambiguous call to overloaded function


This example compiled on our OS X systems, although in the nearly identical project it does not. The solution was including
explicitly in the source, rather than back in another header. The reason is unclear, but seems to be xcode/clang not following our header includes properly.


The issue is that libc++ is not entirely C++11 compliant with the integral overload for std::abs in cmath:

double      fabs( Integral arg ); (7)   (since C++11)

Including cstdlib solves your problem since that header has overloads specifically for integer types.

For reference the draft C++11 standard section 26.8 [c.math] paragraph 11 says:

Moreover, there shall be additional overloads sufficient to ensure:

and includes the following item:

  1. Otherwise, if any argument corresponding to a double parameter has type double or an integer type, then all arguments corresponding to double parameters are effectively cast to double.

This is situation very likely to change due to LWG active issue 2192: Validity and return type of std::abs(0u) is unclear. I am guessing libc++ choose not to provide the overloads in cmath due to the issue brought up in this defect report.

See Is std::abs(0u) ill-formed? for more details on this.