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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Finding dependencies for Make (part II)


Quite a while ago, I presented my own simple, sed, grep and bash-based make-depend script. It was simple, and somewhat effective, except for the fact that it did not see include-only dependencies nor quote-includes. If you changed a header affecting a lot of things, it would not rebuild, because the make rules were incomplete. Let’s fix this.

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#include <the_usual>


Recently on Freenode channel ##cpp, I saw some code using an include-all-you-can header. The idea was to help beginners to the language, help them start programming without having to remember which header was which, and which headers are needed.

Is that really a good idea?

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Reinventing the Wheel (or not)


About a week ago, some dude drops on IRC that he’s beat memcpy “by a lot”. That’d be interesting, except that we couldn’t get neither code nor test methodology out of him. But, how hard can making a better memcpy be? Turns out, harder than you think!

If you think this is a typical case of “reinventing the wheel”, I mostly agree with you. But while reinventing will be hard, can improvements be made?

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Serializing Trees


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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Log2 (with C++ metaprogramming)


C++ meta-programming a powerful tool. Not only can you use it to build generic types (such as the STL’s std::list), you can also use it to have compile-time evaluation. Let’s have a look at a simple problem that can be solved in two very different ways: computing the Log base 2 of an integer.

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A Bit About Bit-Fields


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


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Single-Pointer Doubly-Linked Lists


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!


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The Cutest Littlest Forkbomb


In one of his last tweets @levans posted the cutest Rust-lang fork bomb:

fn main(){std::thread::spawn(main);main()}

at 42 characters longs, which he sees like a sign. Excluding headers, you can do even shorter in C++:

main(){boost::thread x(main);main();}

It’s not really a terrifying forkbomb (as Linux, for e.g., kills everything after a while because processes run out of memory), and we could have done much worse with a process-level (rather than a thread-level) forkbomb:

main() { fork(); main(); }

This variant creates separate processes… none of which individualy can exhaust its memory! Don’t try this one on your main box (but it could be fun in a virtual machine).


Consider Simplicity, Verily.


If you’re a perfectionist, it’s really hard to limit the efforts you put into developing code. A part of you wants to write the perfect code, while another reminds you that you haven’t time for that, and you will have to settle for good enough code. Today’s entry is exactly this: an ambitious design that was reduced to merely OK code.


I needed to have an exporter (but no importer) to CSV format for C++. One of the first thing that came to mind is to have a variant-like hierarchy that can store arbitrary values, each specific class having its own to_string function, and then have some engine on top that can scan a data structure and spew it to disk as CSV. That’s ridiculously complicated—very general—but ridiculously complicated.

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