c interview questions

Top c frequently asked interview questions

How to initialize an array in C

I have a large array in C (not C++ if that makes a difference). I want to initialize all members to the same value. I could swear I once knew a simple way to do this. I could use memset() in my case, but isn't there a way to do this that is built right into the C syntax?

Source: (StackOverflow)

How do I use extern to share variables between source files in C?

I know that global variables in C sometimes have the extern keyword. What is an extern variable? What is the declaration like? What is its scope?

This is related to sharing variables across source files, but how does that work precisely? Where do I use extern?

Source: (StackOverflow)

Why can't variables be declared in a switch statement?

I've always wondered this - why can't you declare variables after a case label in a switch statement? In C++ you can declare variables pretty much anywhere (and declaring them close to first use is obviously a good thing) but the following still won't work:

switch (val)  
case VAL:  
  // This won't work
  int newVal = 42;  

The above gives me the following error (MSC):

initialization of 'newVal' is skipped by 'case' label

This seems to be a limitation in other languages too. Why is this such a problem?

Source: (StackOverflow)

How do I achieve the theoretical maximum of 4 FLOPs per cycle?

How can the theoretical peak performance of 4 floating point operations (double precision) per cycle be achieved on a modern x86-64 Intel CPU?

As far as I understand it take three cycles for an SSE add and five cycles for a mul to complete on most of the modern Intel CPUs (see for example Agner Fog's 'Instruction Tables' ). Due to pipelining one can get a throughput of one add per cycle if the algorithm has at least three independent summations. Since that is true for packed addpd as well as the scalar addsd versions and SSE registers can contain two double's the throughput can be as much as two flops per cycle.

Furthermore, it seems (although I've not seen any proper documentation on this) add's and mul's can be executed in parallel giving a theoretical max throughput of four flops per cycle.

However, I've not been able to replicate that performance with a simple C/C++ programme. My best attempt resulted in about 2.7 flops/cycle. If anyone can contribute a simple C/C++ or assembler programme which demonstrates peak performance that'd be greatly appreciated.

My attempt:

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <math.h>
#include <sys/time.h>

double stoptime(void) {
   struct timeval t;
   return (double) t.tv_sec + t.tv_usec/1000000.0;

double addmul(double add, double mul, int ops){
   // Need to initialise differently otherwise compiler might optimise away
   double sum1=0.1, sum2=-0.1, sum3=0.2, sum4=-0.2, sum5=0.0;
   double mul1=1.0, mul2= 1.1, mul3=1.2, mul4= 1.3, mul5=1.4;
   int loops=ops/10;          // We have 10 floating point operations inside the loop
   double expected = 5.0*add*loops + (sum1+sum2+sum3+sum4+sum5)
               + pow(mul,loops)*(mul1+mul2+mul3+mul4+mul5);

   for (int i=0; i<loops; i++) {
      mul1*=mul; mul2*=mul; mul3*=mul; mul4*=mul; mul5*=mul;
      sum1+=add; sum2+=add; sum3+=add; sum4+=add; sum5+=add;
   return  sum1+sum2+sum3+sum4+sum5+mul1+mul2+mul3+mul4+mul5 - expected;

int main(int argc, char** argv) {
   if (argc != 2) {
      printf("usage: %s <num>\n", argv[0]);
      printf("number of operations: <num> millions\n");
   int n = atoi(argv[1]) * 1000000;
   if (n<=0)

   double x = M_PI;
   double y = 1.0 + 1e-8;
   double t = stoptime();
   x = addmul(x, y, n);
   t = stoptime() - t;
   printf("addmul:\t %.3f s, %.3f Gflops, res=%f\n", t, (double)n/t/1e9, x);
   return EXIT_SUCCESS;

Compiled with

g++ -O2 -march=native addmul.cpp ; ./a.out 1000

produces the following output on an Intel Core i5-750, 2.66 GHz.

addmul:  0.270 s, 3.707 Gflops, res=1.326463

That is, just about 1.4 flops per cycle. Looking at the assembler code with g++ -S -O2 -march=native -masm=intel addmul.cpp the main loop seems kind of optimal to me:

inc    eax
mulsd    xmm8, xmm3
mulsd    xmm7, xmm3
mulsd    xmm6, xmm3
mulsd    xmm5, xmm3
mulsd    xmm1, xmm3
addsd    xmm13, xmm2
addsd    xmm12, xmm2
addsd    xmm11, xmm2
addsd    xmm10, xmm2
addsd    xmm9, xmm2
cmp    eax, ebx
jne    .L4

Changing the scalar versions with packed versions (addpd and mulpd) would double the flop count without changing the execution time and so I'd get just short of 2.8 flops per cycle. Is there a simple example which achieves four flops per cycle?

Nice little programme by Mysticial; here are my results (run just for a few seconds though):

  • gcc -O2 -march=nocona: 5.6 Gflops out of 10.66 Gflops (2.1 flops/cycle)
  • cl /O2, openmp removed: 10.1 Gflops out of 10.66 Gflops (3.8 flops/cycle)

It all seems a bit complex, but my conclusions so far:

  • gcc -O2 changes the order of independent floating point operations with the aim of alternating addpd and mulpd's if possible. Same applies to gcc-4.6.2 -O2 -march=core2.

  • gcc -O2 -march=nocona seems to keep the order of floating point operations as defined in the C++ source.

  • cl /O2, the 64-bit compiler from the SDK for Windows 7 does loop-unrolling automatically and seems to try and arrange operations so that groups of three addpd's alternate with three mulpd's (well, at least on my system and for my simple programme).

  • My Core i5 750 (Nahelem architecture) doesn't like alternating add's and mul's and seems unable to run both operations in parallel. However, if grouped in 3's it suddenly works like magic.

  • Other architectures (possibly Sandy Bridge and others) appear to be able to execute add/mul in parallel without problems if they alternate in the assembly code.

  • Although difficult to admit, but on my system cl /O2 does a much better job at low-level optimising operations for my system and achieves close to peak performance for the little C++ example above. I measured between 1.85-2.01 flops/cycle (have used clock() in Windows which is not that precise. I guess, need to use a better timer - thanks Mackie Messer).

  • The best I managed with gcc was to manually loop unroll and arrange additions and multiplications in groups of three. With g++ -O2 -march=nocona addmul_unroll.cpp I get at best 0.207s, 4.825 Gflops which corresponds to 1.8 flops/cycle which I'm quite happy with now.

In the C++ code I've replaced the for loop with

   for (int i=0; i<loops/3; i++) {
       mul1*=mul; mul2*=mul; mul3*=mul;
       sum1+=add; sum2+=add; sum3+=add;
       mul4*=mul; mul5*=mul; mul1*=mul;
       sum4+=add; sum5+=add; sum1+=add;

       mul2*=mul; mul3*=mul; mul4*=mul;
       sum2+=add; sum3+=add; sum4+=add;
       mul5*=mul; mul1*=mul; mul2*=mul;
       sum5+=add; sum1+=add; sum2+=add;

       mul3*=mul; mul4*=mul; mul5*=mul;
       sum3+=add; sum4+=add; sum5+=add;

And the assembly now looks like

mulsd    xmm8, xmm3
mulsd    xmm7, xmm3
mulsd    xmm6, xmm3
addsd    xmm13, xmm2
addsd    xmm12, xmm2
addsd    xmm11, xmm2
mulsd    xmm5, xmm3
mulsd    xmm1, xmm3
mulsd    xmm8, xmm3
addsd    xmm10, xmm2
addsd    xmm9, xmm2
addsd    xmm13, xmm2

Source: (StackOverflow)

With C arrays, why is it the case that a[5] == 5[a]?

As Joel points out in Stack Overflow podcast #34, in C Programming Language (aka: K & R), there is mention of this property of arrays in C: a[5] == 5[a]

Joel says that it's because of pointer arithmetic but I still don't understand. Why does a[5] == 5[a]?

Source: (StackOverflow)

What does the C ??!??! operator do?

I saw a line of C that looked like this:

!ErrorHasOccured() ??!??! HandleError();

It compiled correctly and seems to run ok. It seems like it's checking if an error has occurred, and if it has, it handles it. But I'm not really sure what it's actually doing or how it's doing it. It does look like the programmer is trying express their feelings about errors.

I have never seen the ??!??! before in any programming language, and I can't find documentation for it anywhere. (Google doesn't help with search terms like ??!??!). What does it do and how does the code sample work?

Source: (StackOverflow)

Improve INSERT-per-second performance of SQLite?

Optimizing SQLite is tricky. Bulk-insert performance of a C application can vary from 85 inserts-per-second to over 96000 inserts-per-second!

Background: We are using SQLite as part of a desktop application. We have large amounts of configuration data stored in XML files that are parsed and loaded into an SQLite database for further processing when the application is initialized. SQLite is ideal for this situation because it's fast, it requires no specialized configuration and the database is stored on disk as a single file.

Rationale: Initially I was disappointed with the performance I was seeing. It turns-out that the performance of SQLite can vary significantly (both for bulk-inserts and selects) depending on how the database is configured and how you're using the API. It was not a trivial matter to figure-out what all of the options and techniques were, so I though it prudent to create this community wiki entry to share the results with SO readers in order to save others the trouble of the same investigations.

The Experiment: Rather than simply talking about performance tips in the general sense (i.e. "Use a transaction!"), I thought it best to write some C code and actually measure the impact of various options. We're going to start with some simple data:

  • A 28 meg TAB-delimited text file (approx 865000 records) of the complete transit schedule for the city of Toronto
  • My test machine is a 3.60 GHz P4 running Windows XP.
  • The code is compiled with MSVC 2005 as "Release" with "Full Optimization" (/Ox) and Favor Fast Code (/Ot).
  • I'm using the SQLite "Amalgamation", compiled directly into my test application. The SQLite version I happen to have is a bit older (3.6.7), but I suspect these results will be comparable to the latest release (please leave a comment if you think otherwise).

Let's write some code!

The Code: A simple C program that reads the text file line-by-line, splits the string into values and then will inserts the data into an SQLite database. In this "baseline" version of the code, the database is created but we won't actually insert data:

    Baseline code to experiment with SQLite performance.

    Input data is a 28 Mb TAB-delimited text file of the
    complete Toronto Transit System schedule/route info 

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <time.h>
#include <string.h>
#include "sqlite3.h"

#define INPUTDATA "C:\\TTC_schedule_scheduleitem_10-27-2009.txt"
#define DATABASE "c:\\TTC_schedule_scheduleitem_10-27-2009.sqlite"
#define BUFFER_SIZE 256

int main(int argc, char **argv) {

    sqlite3 * db;
    sqlite3_stmt * stmt;
    char * sErrMsg = 0;
    char * tail = 0;
    int nRetCode;
    int n = 0;

    clock_t cStartClock;

    FILE * pFile;
    char sInputBuf [BUFFER_SIZE] = "\0";

    char * sRT = 0;  /* Route */
    char * sBR = 0;  /* Branch */
    char * sVR = 0;  /* Version */
    char * sST = 0;  /* Stop Number */
    char * sVI = 0;  /* Vehicle */
    char * sDT = 0;  /* Date */
    char * sTM = 0;  /* Time */

    char sSQL [BUFFER_SIZE] = "\0";

    /* Open the Database and create the Schema */
    sqlite3_open(DATABASE, &db);
    sqlite3_exec(db, TABLE, NULL, NULL, &sErrMsg);

    /* Open input file and import into Database*/
    cStartClock = clock();

    pFile = fopen (INPUTDATA,"r");
    while (!feof(pFile)) {

        fgets (sInputBuf, BUFFER_SIZE, pFile);

        sRT = strtok (sInputBuf, "\t");     /* Get Route */
        sBR = strtok (NULL, "\t");          /* Get Branch */    
        sVR = strtok (NULL, "\t");          /* Get Version */
        sST = strtok (NULL, "\t");          /* Get Stop Number */
        sVI = strtok (NULL, "\t");          /* Get Vehicle */
        sDT = strtok (NULL, "\t");          /* Get Date */
        sTM = strtok (NULL, "\t");          /* Get Time */



    fclose (pFile);

    printf("Imported %d records in %4.2f seconds\n", n, (clock() - cStartClock) / (double)CLOCKS_PER_SEC);

    return 0;

The "Control"

Running the code as-is doesn't actually perform any database operations, but it will give us an idea of how fast the raw C file IO and string processing operations are.

Imported 864913 records in 0.94 seconds

Great! We can do 920 000 inserts-per-second, provided we don't actually do any inserts :-)

The "Worst-Case-Scenario"

We're going to generate the SQL string using the values read from the file and invoke that SQL operation using sqlite3_exec:

sprintf(sSQL, "INSERT INTO TTC VALUES (NULL, '%s', '%s', '%s', '%s', '%s', '%s', '%s')", sRT, sBR, sVR, sST, sVI, sDT, sTM);
sqlite3_exec(db, sSQL, NULL, NULL, &sErrMsg);

This is going to be slow because the SQL will be compiled into VDBE code for every insert and every insert will happen in it's own transaction. How slow?

Imported 864913 records in 9933.61 seconds

Yikes! 1 hour and 45 minutes! That's only 85 inserts-per-second.

Using a Transaction

By default SQLite will evaluate every INSERT / UPDATE statement within a unique transaction. If performing a large number of inserts, it's advisable to wrap your operation in a transaction:

sqlite3_exec(db, "BEGIN TRANSACTION", NULL, NULL, &sErrMsg);

pFile = fopen (INPUTDATA,"r");
while (!feof(pFile)) {


fclose (pFile);

sqlite3_exec(db, "END TRANSACTION", NULL, NULL, &sErrMsg);

Imported 864913 records in 38.03 seconds

That's better. Simply wrapping all of our inserts in a single transaction improved our performance to 23 000 inserts-per-second.

Using a Prepared Statement

Using a transaction was a huge improvement, but recompiling the SQL statement for every insert doesn't make sense if we using the same SQL over-and-over. Let's use sqlite3_prepare_v2 to compile our SQL statement once and then bind our parameters to that statement using sqlite3_bind_text:

/* Open input file and import into Database*/
cStartClock = clock();

sprintf(sSQL, "INSERT INTO TTC VALUES (NULL, @RT, @BR, @VR, @ST, @VI, @DT, @TM)");
sqlite3_prepare_v2(db,  sSQL, BUFFER_SIZE, &stmt, &tail);

sqlite3_exec(db, "BEGIN TRANSACTION", NULL, NULL, &sErrMsg);

pFile = fopen (INPUTDATA,"r");
while (!feof(pFile)) {

    fgets (sInputBuf, BUFFER_SIZE, pFile);

    sRT = strtok (sInputBuf, "\t");     /* Get Route */
    sBR = strtok (NULL, "\t");      /* Get Branch */    
    sVR = strtok (NULL, "\t");      /* Get Version */
    sST = strtok (NULL, "\t");      /* Get Stop Number */
    sVI = strtok (NULL, "\t");      /* Get Vehicle */
    sDT = strtok (NULL, "\t");      /* Get Date */
    sTM = strtok (NULL, "\t");      /* Get Time */

    sqlite3_bind_text(stmt, 1, sRT, -1, SQLITE_TRANSIENT);
    sqlite3_bind_text(stmt, 2, sBR, -1, SQLITE_TRANSIENT);
    sqlite3_bind_text(stmt, 3, sVR, -1, SQLITE_TRANSIENT);
    sqlite3_bind_text(stmt, 4, sST, -1, SQLITE_TRANSIENT);
    sqlite3_bind_text(stmt, 5, sVI, -1, SQLITE_TRANSIENT);
    sqlite3_bind_text(stmt, 6, sDT, -1, SQLITE_TRANSIENT);
    sqlite3_bind_text(stmt, 7, sTM, -1, SQLITE_TRANSIENT);




fclose (pFile);

sqlite3_exec(db, "END TRANSACTION", NULL, NULL, &sErrMsg);

printf("Imported %d records in %4.2f seconds\n", n, (clock() - cStartClock) / (double)CLOCKS_PER_SEC);


return 0;

Imported 864913 records in 16.27 seconds

Nice! There's a little bit more code (don't forget to call sqlite3_clear_bindings and sqlite3_reset) but we've more than doubled our performance to 53 000 inserts-per-second.

PRAGMA synchronous = OFF

By default SQLite will pause after issuing a OS-level write command. This guarantees that the data is written to the disk. By setting synchronous = OFF, we are instructing SQLite to simply hand-off the data to the OS for writing and then continue. There's a chance that the database file may become corrupted if the computer suffers a catastrophic crash (or power failure) before the data is written to the platter:

/* Open the Database and create the Schema */
sqlite3_open(DATABASE, &db);
sqlite3_exec(db, TABLE, NULL, NULL, &sErrMsg);
sqlite3_exec(db, "PRAGMA synchronous = OFF", NULL, NULL, &sErrMsg);

Imported 864913 records in 12.41 seconds

The improvements are now smaller, but we're up to 69 600 inserts-per-second.

PRAGMA journal_mode = MEMORY

Consider storing the rollback journal in memory by evaluating PRAGMA journal_mode = MEMORY. Your transaction will be faster, but if you lose power or your program crashes during a transaction you database could be left in a corrupt state with a partially-completed transaction:

/* Open the Database and create the Schema */
sqlite3_open(DATABASE, &db);
sqlite3_exec(db, TABLE, NULL, NULL, &sErrMsg);
sqlite3_exec(db, "PRAGMA journal_mode = MEMORY", NULL, NULL, &sErrMsg);

Imported 864913 records in 13.50 seconds

A little slower than the previous optimization at 64 000 inserts-per-second.

PRAGMA synchronous = OFF and PRAGMA journal_mode = MEMORY

Let's combine the previous two optimizations. It's a little more risky (in case of a crash), but we're just importing data (not running a bank):

/* Open the Database and create the Schema */
sqlite3_open(DATABASE, &db);
sqlite3_exec(db, TABLE, NULL, NULL, &sErrMsg);
sqlite3_exec(db, "PRAGMA synchronous = OFF", NULL, NULL, &sErrMsg);
sqlite3_exec(db, "PRAGMA journal_mode = MEMORY", NULL, NULL, &sErrMsg);

Imported 864913 records in 12.00 seconds

Fantastic! We're able to do 72 000 inserts-per-second.

Using an In-Memory Database

Just for kicks, let's build upon all of the previous optimizations and redefine the database filename so we're working entirely in RAM:

#define DATABASE ":memory:"

Imported 864913 records in 10.94 seconds

It's not super-practical to store our database in RAM, but it's impressive that we can perform 79 000 inserts-per-second.

Refactoring C Code

Although not specifically an SQLite improvement, I don't like the extra char* assignment operations in the while loop. Let's quickly refactor that code to pass the output of strtok() directly into sqlite3_bind_text() and let the compiler try to speed things up for us:

pFile = fopen (INPUTDATA,"r");
while (!feof(pFile)) {

    fgets (sInputBuf, BUFFER_SIZE, pFile);

    sqlite3_bind_text(stmt, 1, strtok (sInputBuf, "\t"), -1, SQLITE_TRANSIENT); /* Get Route */
    sqlite3_bind_text(stmt, 2, strtok (NULL, "\t"), -1, SQLITE_TRANSIENT);  /* Get Branch */
    sqlite3_bind_text(stmt, 3, strtok (NULL, "\t"), -1, SQLITE_TRANSIENT);  /* Get Version */
    sqlite3_bind_text(stmt, 4, strtok (NULL, "\t"), -1, SQLITE_TRANSIENT);  /* Get Stop Number */
    sqlite3_bind_text(stmt, 5, strtok (NULL, "\t"), -1, SQLITE_TRANSIENT);  /* Get Vehicle */
    sqlite3_bind_text(stmt, 6, strtok (NULL, "\t"), -1, SQLITE_TRANSIENT);  /* Get Date */
    sqlite3_bind_text(stmt, 7, strtok (NULL, "\t"), -1, SQLITE_TRANSIENT);  /* Get Time */

    sqlite3_step(stmt);     /* Execute the SQL Statement */
    sqlite3_clear_bindings(stmt);   /* Clear bindings */
    sqlite3_reset(stmt);        /* Reset VDBE */

fclose (pFile);

Note: We are back to using a real database file. In-memory databases as fast but not necessarily practical

Imported 864913 records in 8.94 seconds

A slight refactoring to the string processing code used in our parameter binding has allowed us to perform 96 700 inserts-per-second. I think it's safe to say that this is plenty fast. As we start to tweak other variables (i.e. page size, index creation, etc.) this will be our benchmark.

Summary (so far)

I hope you're still with me! The reason we started down this road is that bulk-insert performance varies so wildly with SQLite and it's not always obvious what changes need to be made to speed-up our operation. Using the same compiler (and compiler options), the same version of SQLite and the same data we've optimized our code and our usage of SQLite to go from a worst-case scenario of 85 inserts-per-second to over 96000 inserts-per-second!


Before we start measuring SELECT performance, we know that we'll be creating indexes. It's been suggested in one of the answers below that when doing bulk inserts, it is faster to create the index after the data has been inserted (as opposed to creating the index first then inserting the data). Let's try:

Create Index then Insert Data

sqlite3_exec(db, "CREATE  INDEX 'TTC_Stop_Index' ON 'TTC' ('Stop')", NULL, NULL, &sErrMsg);
sqlite3_exec(db, "BEGIN TRANSACTION", NULL, NULL, &sErrMsg);

Imported 864913 records in 18.13 seconds

Insert Data then Create Index

sqlite3_exec(db, "END TRANSACTION", NULL, NULL, &sErrMsg);
sqlite3_exec(db, "CREATE  INDEX 'TTC_Stop_Index' ON 'TTC' ('Stop')", NULL, NULL, &sErrMsg);

Imported 864913 records in 13.66 seconds

As expected, bulk-inserts are slower if one column is indexed, but it does make a difference if the index is created after the data is inserted. Our no-index baseline is 96 000 insert-per-second. Creating the index first then inserting data gives us 47 700 inserts-per-second, whereas inserting the data first then creating the index gives us 63 300 inserts-per-second.

I'd gladly take suggestions for other scenarios to try... And will be compiling similar data for SELECT queries soon.

Source: (StackOverflow)

What is the name of the "-->" operator?

After reading Hidden Features and Dark Corners of C++/STL on comp.lang.c++.moderated, I was completely surprised that the following snippet compiled and worked in both Visual Studio 2008 and G++ 4.4.

Here's the code:

#include <stdio.h>
int main()
    int x = 10;
    while (x --> 0) // x goes to 0
        printf("%d ", x);

I'd assume this is C, since it works in GCC as well. Where is this defined in the standard, and where has it come from?

Source: (StackOverflow)

What is the difference between const int*, const int * const, and int const *?

I always mess up how to use const int*, const int * const, and int const * correctly. Is there a set of rules defining what you can and cannot do?

I want to know all the do's and all don'ts in terms of assignments, passing to the functions, etc.

Source: (StackOverflow)

How do function pointers in C work?

I had some experience lately with function pointers in C.

So going on with the tradition of answering your own questions, I decided to make a small summary of the very basics, for those who need a quick dive-in to the subject.

Source: (StackOverflow)

Do I cast the result of malloc?

In this question, someone suggested in a comment that I should not cast the results of malloc, i.e:

int *sieve = malloc(sizeof(int)*length);

rather than:

int *sieve = (int *)malloc(sizeof(int)*length);

Why would this be the case?

Source: (StackOverflow)

Speed comparison with Project Euler: C vs Python vs Erlang vs Haskell

I have taken Problem #12 from Project Euler as a programming exercise and to compare my (surely not optimal) implementations in C, Python, Erlang and Haskell. In order to get some higher execution times, I search for the first triangle number with more than 1000 divisors instead of 500 as stated in the original problem.

The result is the following:


lorenzo@enzo:~/erlang$ gcc -lm -o euler12.bin euler12.c
lorenzo@enzo:~/erlang$ time ./euler12.bin

real    0m11.074s
user    0m11.070s
sys 0m0.000s


lorenzo@enzo:~/erlang$ time ./ 

real    1m16.632s
user    1m16.370s
sys 0m0.250s

python with pypy:

lorenzo@enzo:~/Downloads/pypy-c-jit-43780-b590cf6de419-linux64/bin$ time ./pypy /home/lorenzo/erlang/ 

real    0m13.082s
user    0m13.050s
sys 0m0.020s


lorenzo@enzo:~/erlang$ erlc euler12.erl 
lorenzo@enzo:~/erlang$ time erl -s euler12 solve
Erlang R13B03 (erts-5.7.4) [source] [64-bit] [smp:4:4] [rq:4] [async-threads:0] [hipe] [kernel-poll:false]

Eshell V5.7.4  (abort with ^G)
1> 842161320

real    0m48.259s
user    0m48.070s
sys 0m0.020s


lorenzo@enzo:~/erlang$ ghc euler12.hs -o euler12.hsx
[1 of 1] Compiling Main             ( euler12.hs, euler12.o )
Linking euler12.hsx ...
lorenzo@enzo:~/erlang$ time ./euler12.hsx 

real    2m37.326s
user    2m37.240s
sys 0m0.080s


  • C: 100%
  • python: 692% (118% with pypy)
  • erlang: 436% (135% thanks to RichardC)
  • haskell: 1421%

I suppose that C has a big advantage as it uses long for the calculations and not arbitrary length integers as the other three. Also it doesn't need to load a runtime first (Do the others?).

Question 1: Do Erlang, Python and Haskell lose speed due to using arbitrary length integers or don't they as long as the values are less than MAXINT?

Question 2: Why is Haskell so slow? Is there a compiler flag that turns off the brakes or is it my implementation? (The latter is quite probable as Haskell is a book with seven seals to me.)

Question 3: Can you offer me some hints how to optimize these implementations without changing the way I determine the factors? Optimization in any way: nicer, faster, more "native" to the language.


Question 4: Do my functional implementations permit LCO (last call optimization, a.k.a tail recursion elimination) and hence avoid adding unnecessary frames onto the call stack?

I really tried to implement the same algorithm as similar as possible in the four languages, although I have to admit that my Haskell and Erlang knowledge is very limited.

Source codes used:

#include <stdio.h>
#include <math.h>

int factorCount (long n)
    double square = sqrt (n);
    int isquare = (int) square;
    int count = isquare == square ? -1 : 0;
    long candidate;
    for (candidate = 1; candidate <= isquare; candidate ++)
        if (0 == n % candidate) count += 2;
    return count;

int main ()
    long triangle = 1;
    int index = 1;
    while (factorCount (triangle) < 1001)
        index ++;
        triangle += index;
    printf ("%ld\n", triangle);

#! /usr/bin/env python3.2

import math

def factorCount (n):
    square = math.sqrt (n)
    isquare = int (square)
    count = -1 if isquare == square else 0
    for candidate in range (1, isquare + 1):
        if not n % candidate: count += 2
    return count

triangle = 1
index = 1
while factorCount (triangle) < 1001:
    index += 1
    triangle += index

print (triangle)

-module (euler12).
-compile (export_all).

factorCount (Number) -> factorCount (Number, math:sqrt (Number), 1, 0).

factorCount (_, Sqrt, Candidate, Count) when Candidate > Sqrt -> Count;

factorCount (_, Sqrt, Candidate, Count) when Candidate == Sqrt -> Count + 1;

factorCount (Number, Sqrt, Candidate, Count) ->
    case Number rem Candidate of
        0 -> factorCount (Number, Sqrt, Candidate + 1, Count + 2);
        _ -> factorCount (Number, Sqrt, Candidate + 1, Count)

nextTriangle (Index, Triangle) ->
    Count = factorCount (Triangle),
        Count > 1000 -> Triangle;
        true -> nextTriangle (Index + 1, Triangle + Index + 1)  

solve () ->
    io:format ("~p~n", [nextTriangle (1, 1) ] ),
    halt (0).

factorCount number = factorCount' number isquare 1 0 - (fromEnum $ square == fromIntegral isquare)
    where square = sqrt $ fromIntegral number
          isquare = floor square

factorCount' number sqrt candidate count
    | fromIntegral candidate > sqrt = count
    | number `mod` candidate == 0 = factorCount' number sqrt (candidate + 1) (count + 2)
    | otherwise = factorCount' number sqrt (candidate + 1) count

nextTriangle index triangle
    | factorCount triangle > 1000 = triangle
    | otherwise = nextTriangle (index + 1) (triangle + index + 1)

main = print $ nextTriangle 1 1

Source: (StackOverflow)

What are the barriers to understanding pointers and what can be done to overcome them? [closed]

Why are pointers such a leading factor of confusion for many new, and even old, college level students in C or C++? Are there any tools or thought processes that helped you understand how pointers work at the variable, function, and beyond level?

What are some good practice things that can be done to bring somebody to the level of, "Ah-hah, I got it," without getting them bogged down in the overall concept? Basically, drill like scenarios.

Source: (StackOverflow)

What is the strict aliasing rule?

When asking about common undefined behavior in C, souls more enlightened than I referred to the strict aliasing rule.
What are they talking about?

Source: (StackOverflow)