just_enough

30/06/2020

The C99 <stdint.h> header provides a plethora of type definition for platform-independent safe code: int_fast16_t, for example, provides an integer that plays well with the machine but has at least 16 bits. The int_fastxx_t and int_leastxx_t defines doesn’t guarantee a tight fit, they provide an machine-efficient fit. They find the fastest type of integer for that machine that respects the constraint.

But let’s take the problem the other way around: what about defines that gives you the smallest integer, not for the number of bits (because that’s trivial with intxx_t) but from the maximum value you need to represent?

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(Sub)bit-fields (Coding with fractions of bits, Part II)

13/08/2019

Last week, we used the 6×7×6 palette as an example of very simple fraction-of-a-bit coding1. However, we can generalize still a bit more to allow single field extraction and modification

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Ohta (Colorspaces III)

24/04/2018

Let’s continue with lesser known color spaces. In 1980, Yu-Ichi Ohta [1] to segment images based on colors, and to do this, introduced a new colorspace—or more precisely, two variants of the same color space.

Ohta’s concern wasn’t image coding but region separation. He supposed (without much evidence) that a color space with a basis close to the principal components of the colors in the image should be maximally discriminant. He then proposed that the colorspace

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Yes? No? Maybe? (Part II)

27/03/2018

Last week, we had a look at how to implement a trool, or a tri-valued boolean what accepts true, false, and undefined. We remarked that the storage of an enum likely defaults to int, and that my poc wouldn’t play well with std::vector as that container has no specialization to deal with this new type.

A specialization would be interesting because we can do much better than using an integer to store three different values. We can do much, much better.

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Pretty Printing a Tree in a Terminal

06/12/2016

More often than I’d like, simple tasks turn out to be not that simple. For example, displaying (beautifully) a binary tree for debugging purpose in a terminal. Of course, one could still use lots of parentheses, but that does not lend itself to a very fast assessment of the tree. We could, however, use box drawing characters, as in DOS’s goode olde tymes, since they’re now part of the Unicode standard.

tree-01

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Serializing Trees

06/09/2016

Quite a while ago I discussed using flat arrays and address calculations to store a tree in a simple array. The trick wasn’t new (I think it’s due to Williams, 1964 [1]), but is only really practical when we consider heaps, or otherwise very well balanced trees. If you have a misshapen tree, that trick doesn’t help you. It doesn’t help you either if you try to serialize a misshapen tree to disk.

But what if we do want to serialize arbitrarily-shaped trees to disk? Is it painful? Fortunately, no! Let’s see how.

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Interpolation Search

19/01/2016

We all know about binary search. It’s been with us such a long time. Knuth thinks it’s first appearance in print is in the Moore School Lectures, in 1946. The technique search for an item in a list by halving, iteratively, the searched portion. Its complexity is O(\log n) for a list of n values, making it a very efficient algorithm for searching.

One may even be tempted to think that it’s in fact optimal, that we can’t do significantly better. Is that so?

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A Bit About Bit-Fields

05/01/2016

Let’s make a detour through low-level programming this week. Let’s talk about bit-fields and some of their quirks.

amonite

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the Dutch Flag Problem

29/12/2015

While preparing my lecture notes on sorting, I rediscovered the Dutch flag problem proposed by Edsger W. Dijkstra quite a while ago. This problem is relevant in the context of sorting, especially for variants of Quicksort, where you want to create not two but three partitions.

dutch-flag

Like many problems, the Dutch flag problem has a very simple statement. Say you have an array with three types of value, how can you arrange them so that all the items of the first type is at the beginning of the array, the items of the third at the end (and, of course, leaving the second type between the two)?

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Single-Pointer Doubly-Linked Lists

08/12/2015

Old computer science books aren’t perceived as being of much use, since everything is so much better now. Of course, that’s not entirely true, especially when we are interested in the techniques used in the days where 32KB core memory was “a lot”. Leafing through one such book, Standish’s 1980 Data Structure Techniques, I found a method of maintaining doubly-linked lists using only one pointer. Let’s see how it works!

chain

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