C Interview Questions and Answers-PAGE-5
When should the register modifier be used? Does it really help?
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.
What is page thrashing?
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.
How can you determine the size of an allocated portion of memory?
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.
Can static variables be declared in a header file?
You can’t declare a static variable without defining it as well (this is because the storage class modifiers static and extern are mutually exclusive). A static variable can be defined in a header file, but this would cause each source file that included the header file to have its own private copy of the variable, which is probably not what was intended.
How do you override a defined macro?
You can use the #undef preprocessor directive to undefine (override) a previously defined macro.
How can you check to see whether a symbol is defined?
You can use the #ifdef and #ifndef preprocessor directives to check whether a symbol has been defined (#ifdef) or whether it has not been defined (#ifndef).
Can you define which header file to include at compile time? Yes. This can be done by using the #if, #else, and #endif preprocessor directives. For example, certain compilers use different names for header files. One such case is between Borland C++, which uses the header file alloc.h, and Microsoft C++, which uses the header file malloc.h. Both of these headers serve the same purpose, and each contains roughly the same definitions. If, however, you are writing a program that is to support Borland C++ and Microsoft C++, you must define which header to include at compile time. The following example shows how this can be done:
#ifdef _ _BORLANDC_ _
Can a variable be both const and volatile?
Yes. The const modifier means that this code cannot change the value of the variable, but that does not mean that the value cannot be changed by means outside this code. For instance, in the example in FAQ 8, the timer structure was accessed through a volatile const pointer. The function itself did not change the value of the timer, so it was declared const. However, the value was changed by hardware on the computer, so it was declared volatile. If a variable is both const and volatile, the two modifiers can appear in either order.
Can include files be nested?
Answer Yes. Include files can be nested any number of times. As long as you use precautionary measures , you can avoid including the same file twice. In the past, nesting header files was seen as bad programming practice, because it complicates the dependency tracking function of the MAKE program and thus slows down compilation. Many of today’s popular compilers make up for this difficulty by implementing a concept called precompiled headers, in which all headers and associated dependencies are stored in a precompiled state.
Many programmers like to create a custom header file that has #include statements for every header needed for each module. This is perfectly acceptable and can help avoid potential problems relating to #include files, such as accidentally omitting an #include file in a module.
How can I open a file so that other programs can update it at the same time?
Your C compiler library contains a low-level file function called sopen() that can be used to open a file in shared mode. Beginning with DOS 3.0, files could be opened in shared mode by loading a special program named SHARE.EXE. Shared mode, as the name implies, allows a file to be shared with other programs as well as your own.
Using this function, you can allow other programs that are running to update the same file you are updating.
The sopen() function takes four parameters: a pointer to the filename you want to open, the operational mode you want to open the file in, the file sharing mode to use, and, if you are creating a file, the mode to create the file in. The second parameter of the sopen() function, usually referred to as the operation flagparameter, can have the following values assigned to it:
Constant Description O_APPEND Appends all writes to the end of the file
O_BINARY Opens the file in binary (untranslated) mode
O_CREAT If the file does not exist, it is created
O_EXCL If the O_CREAT flag is used and the file exists, returns an error
O_RDONLY Opens the file in read-only mode
O_RDWR Opens the file for reading and writing
O_TEXT Opens the file in text (translated) mode
O_TRUNC Opens an existing file and writes over its contents
O_WRONLY Opens the file in write-only mode
The third parameter of the sopen() function, usually referred to as the sharing flag, can have the following values assigned to it:
SH_COMPAT No other program can access the file
SH_DENYRW No other program can read from or write to the file
SH_DENYWR No other program can write to the file
SH_DENYRD No other program can read from the file
SH_DENYNO Any program can read from or write to the file
If the sopen() function is successful, it returns a non-negative number that is the file’s handle. If an error occurs, 1 is returned, and the global variable errno is set to one of the following values:
ENOENT File or path not found
EMFILE No more file handles are available
EACCES Permission denied to access file
EINVACC Invalid access code
What is hashing?
To hash means to grind up, and that’s essentially what hashing is all about. The heart of a hashing algorithm is a hash function that takes your nice, neat data and grinds it into some random-looking integer.
The idea behind hashing is that some data either has no inherent ordering (such as images) or is expensive to compare (such as images). If the data has no inherent ordering, you can’t perform comparison searches.
If the data is expensive to compare, the number of comparisons used even by a binary search might be too many. So instead of looking at the data themselves, you’ll condense (hash) the data to an integer (its hash value) and keep all the data with the same hash value in the same place. This task is carried out by using the hash value as an index into an array.
To search for an item, you simply hash it and look at all the data whose hash values match that of the data you’re looking for. This technique greatly lessens the number of items you have to look at. If the parameters are set up with care and enough storage is available for the hash table, the number of comparisons needed to find an item can be made arbitrarily close to one.
One aspect that affects the efficiency of a hashing implementation is the hash function itself. It should ideally distribute data randomly throughout the entire hash table, to reduce the likelihood of collisions. Collisions occur when two different keys have the same hash value. There are two ways to resolve this problem. In open addressing, the collision is resolved by the choosing of another position in the hash table for the element inserted later. When the hash table is searched, if the entry is not found at its hashed position in the table, the search continues checking until either the element is found or an empty position in the table is found
The second method of resolving a hash collision is called chaining. In this method, a bucket or linked list holds all the elements whose keys hash to the same value. When the hash table is searched, the list must be searched linearly.
What is the quickest sorting method to use?
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.
when should the volatile modifier be used?
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)
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.
Why does malloc(0) return valid memory address ? What's the use ?
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:
func ( void )
int *p; /* p is a one-dimensional array,
whose size will vary during the
the lifetime of the program */
p = malloc(0); /* initial allocation */
perror (”FAILURE” );
/* … */
c = (size_t) … ; /* Calculate allocation size */
p = realloc ( p, c * sizeof *p );
/* use p, or break from the loop */
/* … */
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.
Difference between const char* p and char const* p
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 refernce to any other location but u can chage the value of the char pointed by ‘p’.
How can method defined in multiple base classes with same name can be invoked from derived class simultaneously
class z :public x, public y
Write a program to interchange 2 variables without using the third one.
a = a + b;
b = a - b;
a = a - b;
What is the result of using Option Explicit?
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
using the #include version of file inclusion, the compiler first checks the
directory for the specified file. If the file is not found there, the compiler then checks the
S:SOURCEHEADERS 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
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.
What is the benefit of using an enum rather than a #define constant?
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:
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.
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