Set - 2

Question 1 :

Write down the equivalent pointer expression for referring the same element a[i][j][k][l] ?

Answer :

a[i] == *(a+i)
a[i][j] == *(*(a+i)+j)
a[i][j][k] == *(*(*(a+i)+j)+k)
a[i][j][k][l] == *(*(*(*(a+i)+j)+k)+l)

 


Question 2 :

Which bit wise operator is suitable for checking whether a particular bit is on or off ?

Answer :

The bitwise AND operator. Here is an example:

enum {
	KBit0 = 1,
	KBit1,
	…
	KBit31,
};

if ( some_int & KBit24 )
	printf ( "Bit number 24 is ON\n" );
else
	printf ( "Bit number 24 is OFF\n" );

 


Question 3 :

Which bit wise operator is suitable for turning off a particular bit in a number ?

Answer :

The bitwise AND operator, again. In the following code snippet, the bit number 24 is reset to zero.

some_int = some_int & ~KBit24;

 


Question 4 :

Which bit wise operator is suitable for putting on a particular bit in a number ?

Answer :

The bitwise OR operator. In the following code snippet, the bit number 24 is turned ON:

some_int = some_int | KBit24;

 


Question 5 :

Does there exist any other function which can be used to convert an integer or a float to a string ?

Answer :

Some implementations provide a nonstandard function called itoa(), which converts an integer to string.

#include 
char *itoa(int value, char *string, int radix);

DESCRIPTION
The itoa() function constructs a string representation of an integer.

PARAMETERS
value: Is the integer to be converted to string representation. 

string: Points to the buffer that is to hold resulting string. The resulting string may be as long as seventeen bytes. 

radix: Is the base of the number; must be in the range 2 - 36. 

A portable solution exists. One can use sprintf():

char s[SOME_CONST];
int i = 10;
float f = 10.20;
sprintf ( s, "%d %f\n", i, f ); 

 


Question 6 :

Why does malloc(0) return valid memory address ? What's the use ?

Answer :

malloc(0) does not return a non-NULL under every implementation.
An implementation is free to behave in a manner it finds suitable, if the allocation size requested is zero. The implmentation may choose any of the following actions:
* A null pointer is returned.
* The behavior is same as if a space of non-zero size was requested. In this case, the usage of return value yields to undefined-behavior.

Notice, however, that if the implementation returns a non-NULL value for a request of a zero-length space, a pointer to object of ZERO length is returned! Think, how an object of zero size should be represented?

For implementations that return non-NULL values, a typical usage is as follows:

void
func ( void ) {
	int *p; /* p is a one-dimensional array, whose size will vary during the the lifetime of the program */
	size_t c;
    p = malloc(0); /* initial allocation */
	if (!p) {
		perror ("FAILURE" );
		return;
	}
	/* … */

	while (1) {
		c = (size_t) … ; /* Calculate allocation size */
		p = realloc ( p, c * sizeof *p );
		/* use p, or break from the loop */
		/* … */
	}
	return;
}

Notice that this program is not portable, since an implementation is free to return NULL for a malloc(0) request, as the C Standard does not support zero-sized objects.


Question 7 :

Difference between const char* p and char const* p ?

Answer :

In const char* p, the character pointed by 'p' is constant, so u cant change the value of character pointed by p but u can make 'p' refer to some other location.
in char const* p, the ptr 'p' is constant not the character referenced by it, so u cant make 'p' to reference to any other location but u can change the value of the char pointed by 'p'.


Question 8 :

What is the result of using Option Explicit ?

Answer :

When writing your C program, you can include files in two ways. 
The first way is to surround the file you want to include with the angled brackets < and >. 
This method of inclusion tells the preprocessor to look for the file in the predefined default location. 
This predefined default location is often an INCLUDE environment variable that denotes the path to your include files.
For instance, given the INCLUDE variable 
INCLUDE=C:\COMPILER\INCLUDE;S:\SOURCE\HEADERS; 
using the #include version of file inclusion, the compiler first checks the 
C:\COMPILER\INCLUDE 
directory for the specified file. If the file is not found there, the compiler then checks the 
S:\SOURCE\HEADERS directory. If the file is still not found, the preprocessor checks the current directory. 
The second way to include files is to surround the file you want to include with double quotation marks. This method of inclusion tells the preprocessor to look for the file in the current directory first, then look for it in the predefined locations you have set up. Using the #include file version of file inclusion and applying it to the preceding example, the preprocessor first checks the current directory for the specified file. If the file is not found in the current directory, the C:COMPILERINCLUDE directory is searched. If the file is still not found, the preprocessor checks the S:SOURCEHEADERS directory. 
The #include method of file inclusion is often used to include standard headers such as stdio.h or
stdlib.h. 
This is because these headers are rarely (if ever) modified, and they should always be read from your compiler's standard include file directory. 
The #include file method of file inclusion is often used to include nonstandard header files that you have created for use in your program. This is because these headers are often modified in the current directory, and you will want the preprocessor to use your newly modified version of the header rather than the older, unmodified version.


Question 9 :

What is the benefit of using an enum rather than a #define constant ?

Answer :

The use of an enumeration constant (enum) has many advantages over using the traditional symbolic constant style of #define. These advantages include a lower maintenance requirement, improved program readability, and better debugging capability.
1) The first advantage is that enumerated constants are generated automatically by the compiler. Conversely, symbolic constants must be manually assigned values by the programmer.
For instance, if you had an enumerated constant type for error codes that could occur in your program, your enum definition could look something like this:

enum Error_Code{
	OUT_OF_MEMORY,
	INSUFFICIENT_DISK_SPACE,
	LOGIC_ERROR,
	FILE_NOT_FOUND
};

In the preceding example, OUT_OF_MEMORY is automatically assigned the value of 0 (zero) by the compiler because it appears first in the definition. The compiler then continues to automatically assign numbers to the enumerated constants, making INSUFFICIENT_DISK_SPACE equal to 1, LOGIC_ERROR equal to 2, and FILE_NOT_FOUND equal to 3, so on.

If you were to approach the same example by using symbolic constants, your code would look something like this:

#define OUT_OF_MEMORY 0
#define INSUFFICIENT_DISK_SPACE 1
#define LOGIC_ERROR 2
#define FILE_NOT_FOUND 3

values by the programmer. Each of the two methods arrives at the same result: four constants assigned numeric values to represent error codes. Consider the maintenance required, however, if you were to add two constants to represent the error codes DRIVE_NOT_READY and CORRUPT_FILE. Using the enumeration constant method, you simply would put these two constants anywhere in the enum definition. The compiler would generate two unique values for these constants. Using the symbolic constant method, you would have to manually assign two new numbers to these constants. Additionally, you would want to ensure that the numbers you assign to these constants are unique. 

2) Another advantage of using the enumeration constant method is that your programs are more readable and thus can be understood better by others who might have to update your program later.

3) A third advantage to using enumeration constants is that some symbolic debuggers can print the value of an enumeration constant. Conversely, most symbolic debuggers cannot print the value of a symbolic constant. This can be an enormous help in debugging your program, because if your program is stopped at a line that uses an enum, you can simply inspect that constant and instantly know its value. On the other hand, because most debuggers cannot print #define values, you would most likely have to search for that value by manually looking it up in a header file.


Question 10 :

What is the quickest sorting method to use ?

Answer :

The answer depends on what you mean by quickest. For most sorting problems, it just doesn't matter how quick the sort is because it is done infrequently or other operations take significantly more time anyway. Even in cases in which sorting speed is of the essence, there is no one answer. It depends on not only the size and nature of the data, but also the likely order. No algorithm is best in all cases. 
There are three sorting methods in this author's toolbox that are all very fast and that are useful in different situations. Those methods are quick sort, merge sort, and radix sort.

The Quick Sort
The quick sort algorithm is of the divide and conquer type. That means it works by reducing a sorting problem into several easier sorting problems and solving each of them. A dividing value is chosen from the input data, and the data is partitioned into three sets: elements that belong before the dividing value, the value itself, and elements that come after the dividing value. The partitioning is performed by exchanging elements that are in the first set but belong in the third with elements that are in the third set but belong in the first Elements that are equal to the dividing element can be put in any of the three setsthe algorithm will still work properly.

The Merge Sort
The merge sort is a divide and conquer sort as well. It works by considering the data to be sorted as a sequence of already-sorted lists (in the worst case, each list is one element long). Adjacent sorted lists are merged into larger sorted lists until there is a single sorted list containing all the elements. The merge sort is good at sorting lists and other data structures that are not in arrays, and it can be used to sort things that don't fit into memory. It also can be implemented as a stable sort. 
The Radix Sort
The radix sort takes a list of integers and puts each element on a smaller list, depending on the value of its least significant byte. Then the small lists are concatenated, and the process is repeated for each more significant byte until the list is sorted. The radix sort is simpler to implement on fixed-length data such as ints.


Question 11 :

When should the volatile modifier be used ?

Answer :

The volatile modifier is a directive to the compiler's optimizer that operations involving this variable should not be optimized in certain ways. There are two special cases in which use of the volatile modifier is desirable. The first case involves memory-mapped hardware (a device such as a graphics adaptor that appears to the computer's hardware as if it were part of the computer's memory), and the second involves shared memory (memory used by two or more programs running simultaneously).

Most computers have a set of registers that can be accessed faster than the computer's main memory. A good compiler will perform a kind of optimization called redundant load and store removal. The compiler looks for places in the code where it can either remove an instruction to load data from memory because the value is already in a register, or remove an instruction to store data to memory because the value can stay in a register until it is changed again anyway. 
If a variable is a pointer to something other than normal memory, such as memory-mapped ports on a peripheral, redundant load and store optimizations might be detrimental. For instance, here's a piece of code that might be used to time some operation:

time_t time_addition(volatile const struct timer *t, int a) {
	int n;
	int x;
	time_t then;
	x = 0;
	then = t->value;
	for (n = 0; n < 1000; n++) {
		x = x + a;
	}
	return t->value - then;
}

In this code, the variable t-> value is actually a hardware counter that is being incremented as time passes. The function adds the value of a to x 1000 times, and it returns the amount the timer was incremented by while the 1000 additions were being performed. Without the volatile modifier, a clever optimizer might assume that the value of t does not change during the execution of the function, because there is no statement that explicitly changes it. In that case, there's no need to read it from memory a second time and subtract it, because the answer will always be 0.

The compiler might therefore optimize the function by making it always return 0. 
If a variable points to data in shared memory, you also don't want the compiler to perform redundant load and store optimizations. Shared memory is normally used to enable two programs to communicate with each other by having one program store data in the shared portion of memory and the other program read the same portion of memory. If the compiler optimizes away a load or store of shared memory, communication between the two programs will be affected.


Question 12 :

When should the register modifier be used? Does it really help ?

Answer :

The register modifier hints to the compiler that the variable will be heavily used and should be kept in the CPU's registers, if possible, so that it can be accessed faster. 
There are several restrictions on the use of the register modifier.

First, the variable must be of a type that can be held in the CPU's register. This usually means a single value of a size less than or equal to the size of an integer. Some machines have registers that can hold floating-point numbers as well.

Second, because the variable might not be stored in memory, its address cannot be taken with the unary & operator. An attempt to do so is flagged as an error by the compiler. Some additional rules affect how useful the register modifier is. Because the number of registers is limited, and because some registers can hold only certain types of data (such as pointers or floating-point numbers), the number and types of register modifiers that will actually have any effect are dependent on what machine the program will run on. Any additional register modifiers are silently ignored by the compiler.

Also, in some cases, it might actually be slower to keep a variable in a register because that register then becomes unavailable for other purposes or because the variable isn't used enough to justify the overhead of loading and storing it.

So when should the register modifier be used? The answer is never, with most modern compilers. Early C compilers did not keep any variables in registers unless directed to do so, and the register modifier was a valuable addition to the language.

C compiler design has advanced to the point, however, where the compiler will usually make better decisions than the programmer about which variables should be stored in registers.

In fact, many compilers actually ignore the register modifier, which is perfectly legal, because it is only a hint and not a directive.


Question 13 :

How can you determine the size of an allocated portion of memory ?

Answer :

You can't, really. free() can , but there's no way for your program to know the trick free() uses. Even if you disassemble the library and discover the trick, there's no guarantee the trick won't change with the next release of the compiler.


Question 14 :

What is page thrashing ?

Answer :

Some operating systems (such as UNIX or Windows in enhanced mode) use virtual memory. Virtual memory is a technique for making a machine behave as if it had more memory than it really has, by using disk space to simulate RAM (random-access memory).

In the 80386 and higher Intel CPU chips, and in most other modern microprocessors (such as the Motorola 68030, Sparc, and Power PC), exists a piece of hardware called the Memory Management Unit, or MMU.

The MMU treats memory as if it were composed of a series of pages. A page of memory is a block of contiguous bytes of a certain size, usually 4096 or 8192 bytes. The operating system sets up and maintains a table for each running program called the Process Memory Map, or PMM. This is a table of all the pages of memory that program can access and where each is really located.

Every time your program accesses any portion of memory, the address (called a virtual address) is processed by the MMU. The MMU looks in the PMM to find out where the memory is really located (called the physical address). The physical address can be any location in memory or on disk that the operating system has assigned for it. If the location the program wants to access is on disk, the page containing it must be read from disk into memory, and the PMM must be updated to reflect this action (this is called a page fault).

Because accessing the disk is so much slower than accessing RAM, the operating system tries to keep as much of the virtual memory as possible in RAM. If you're running a large enough program (or several small programs at once), there might not be enough RAM to hold all the memory used by the programs, so some of it must be moved out of RAM and onto disk (this action is called paging out).

The operating system tries to guess which areas of memory aren't likely to be used for a while (usually based on how the memory has been used in the past). If it guesses wrong, or if your programs are accessing lots of memory in lots of places, many page faults will occur in order to read in the pages that were paged out. Because all of RAM is being used, for each page read in to be accessed, another page must be paged out. This can lead to more page faults, because now a different page of memory has been moved to disk.

The problem of many page faults occurring in a short time, called page thrashing, can drastically cut the performance of a system. Programs that frequently access many widely separated locations in memory are more likely to cause page thrashing on a system. So is running many small programs that all continue to run even when you are not actively using them.

To reduce page thrashing, you can run fewer programs simultaneously. Or you can try changing the way a large program works to maximize the capability of the operating system to guess which pages won't be needed. You can achieve this effect by caching values or changing lookup algorithms in large data structures, or sometimes by changing to a memory allocation library which provides an implementation of malloc() that allocates memory more efficiently. Finally, you might consider adding more RAM to the system to reduce the need to page out.


Question 15 :

When does the compiler not implicitly generate the address of the first element of an array ?

Answer :

Whenever an array name appears in an expression such as 
array as an operand of the sizeof operator
array as an operand of & operator
array as a string literal initializer for a character array

Then the compiler does not implicitly generate the address of the address of the first element of an array.