Tag Archives: c++11

C++ version of ruby’s Integer::times via user-defined literals

Motivation

It occurred to me that I was missing Ruby’s 42.times do ... in C++. While a loop is still imperative, the inspiration to write the folowing code and the post came after watching the talk “Declarative Thinking, Declarative Practice” by Kevlin Henney. Thus, let it be a “declarative imperative”. While there’s no explicit intended use for the following code, it could make some tests read a bit less verbose. An implementation should be dependency-free, minimalist and copy-paste-able.

42_times([]{
    do_something();
});

First version

Luckily, C++11/C++14 feels like a new language1 and has a nice feature that allows to fulfill wishes: user-defined literals. Thus, having settled on the implementation strategy, here’s how “.times” can look like in C++ as of today:

#include <iostream>

struct execute {
    const unsigned long long n;

    template<typename Callable>
    void operator() (Callable what) {
        for (auto i = 0; i < n; i++)
            what();
    }
};

execute operator"" _times(unsigned long long n) {
    return execute{n};
}

int main() {
    3_times([]{
        std::cout << "bla" << std::endl;
    });

    auto twice = 2_times;

    twice([]{
        std::cout << "blup" << std::endl;
    });
}

g++ -std=c++14 example.cpp & ./a.out

bla
bla
bla
blup
blup

I’d guess, this idea occurred to a number of people already

Update 1: loop index

@Ideone

With two simple options: with a counter and without the counter available in the closure:

#include <iostream>
#include <functional>

struct execute {
    const unsigned long long n;

    void operator() (std::function<void()> what) {
        for (auto i = 0; i < n; i++)
            what();
    }

    void operator() (std::function<void(unsigned long long)> what) {
        for (auto i = 0; i < n; i++)
            what(i);
    }
};

execute operator"" _times(unsigned long long n) {
    return execute{n};
}

int main() {
    3_times([]{
        std::cout << "bla" << std::endl;
    });

    auto twice = 2_times;

    twice([]{
        std::cout << "blup" << std::endl;
    });

    3_times([](unsigned long long i) {
        std::cout << "counting: " << i << std::endl;
    });
}

bla
bla
bla
blup
blup
counting: 0
counting: 1
counting: 2

Update 2: benchmark

A simple benchmark attempt shows that the modern C++ compilers can optimize a for loop that doesn’t produce side effects better than the code above. However, not all code needs to sacrifice readability for performance. If the loop is not on the critical path, it probably doesn’t need to be optimized, especially, if it’s just a test.

After some tinkering to disable optimizations for the function call, here’s a hayai-based benchmark:

struct TimesVsLoop : public ::hayai::Fixture{
    static int v;

    static void do_something() {
        v = v % 41 + 1;
    }

    static void do_something(unsigned long long i) {
        v = (i + v) % 41 + 1;
    }
};

int TimesVsLoop::v = 0;

BENCHMARK_F(TimesVsLoop, Times_Without_Index, 10, 100)
{
    1000000_times([]{
        do_something();
    });
}

BENCHMARK_F(TimesVsLoop, Loop_Without_Index, 10, 100)
{
    for (int i = 0; i < 1000000; i++) {
       do_something();
    }
}

BENCHMARK_F(TimesVsLoop, Times_With_Index, 10, 100)
{
    1000000_times([](unsigned long long i){
        do_something(i);
    });
}

BENCHMARK_F(TimesVsLoop, Loop_With_Index, 10, 100)
{
    for (int i = 0; i < 1000000; i++) {
       do_something(i);
    }
}

int main()
{
    hayai::ConsoleOutputter consoleOutputter;

    hayai::Benchmarker::AddOutputter(consoleOutputter);
    hayai::Benchmarker::RunAllTests();
    return 0;
}

g++ 1_benchmark.cpp -std=c++14 -O3 -I/usr/local/include/hayai && ./a.out

A performance hit is observable, but is probably insignificant in relevant use-cases:

Update 3: a short metaprogram

In order to address the issue of the std::function overhead, Kirk Shoop (@kirkshoop) has posted an alternative version with a small metaprogram:

struct execute {
    const unsigned long long n;

	template<typename F, class Check = decltype((*(F*)nullptr)())>
    void operator() (F what, ...) {
        for (auto i = 0; i < n; i++)
            what();
    }

	template<typename F, class Check = decltype((*(F*)nullptr)(0))>
    void operator() (F what) {
        for (auto i = 0; i < n; i++)
            what(i);
    }
};

This version appears to perform as good, if not sometimes better (an OS fluke, perhaps?) than the raw loop:

Update 4: CppCast & benchmark @ Github

This blog entry was briefly discussed in CppCast’s episode Catch 2 and C++ the Community with Phil Nash. Further ideas, reflections and analyses are welcome!

Benchmark code: cpp_declarative_times/github.com

Update 5: yet more declarative & responses

Jon Kalb has posted a very clear article with an in-depth take on a traditional C++ approach to implementing N_times(...). The Reddit responses point to the Boost.Hana implementation. These responses are in a way in tension with the original intent of writing a minimum sufficient amount of code to achieve the ruby-like syntax. However, indeed, a typical C++ solution involves metaprogramming partly to ensure that other uses apart from the one originally in mind are safe. The discussion of that phenomenon should be part of a separate article.

The other mentioned (metaprogramming) approaches inspire me to create an even more special 2, but still a “character-lightweight” solution. Coming back to declarative thinking and explicit and clear intent, a much simpler resolution of the two overloads can be achieved by simply creating another operator for the index overload:

struct execute_with_index {
    const unsigned long long count;

    template<typename CallableWithIndex>
    void operator() (CallableWithIndex what)
    {
        for (auto i = 0; i < count; i++)
            what(i);
    }
};

execute_with_index operator"" _times_with_index(unsigned long long count)
{
    return { count };
}

1000000_times_with_index([](unsigned long long i) {
    do_something(i);
});

this addition to the initial version solves the problem with the overloads and avoids both metaprogramming and std::function.

Next update: a more generic loop and CRTP.

  1. the original quote by Bjarne Stroustrup is about C++11
  2. as in, opposite to generic

ris – a lightweight cross-platform resource compiler for c++ projects

Why a resource compiler in the 21st century?

Starting a c++ project that will potentially need static string resources (i.e. Lua scripts) makes one search for an easy way to embed large strings in an executable. There are many ways of including static resources, but there seems to be no simple but robust, platform-independent way 1. For fast prototyping and one-shot projects, I’d like to have lightweight, minimum-configuration and install solution to the problem of embedding binary resources without having to use a large framework.

Premake, my favourite light-weight meta-build system contains a number of Lua scripts in its binary. These are embedded using a Lua script into a simple array of C-string constants. This is the simplicity that in my view should be strived for. ris is an attempt to do something similar for general c++ projects with a possibility of embedding binary blobs.

ris – cross-platform resource compiler for c++

The project (ris@github) is in its infancy, but seems already to be usable. Here’s a preview:

Defining and compiling resources

ris <path_to>/<resources>.json

with an input file as this self-explaining one:

{
    "namespace" : "test",
    "header" : "acceptance_test/resource.h",
    "source" : "acceptance_test/resource.cpp",
    "resources" : [
        {
            "name" : "string_test",
            "source_type" : "string",
            "source" : "plain text"
        },
        {
            "name" : "binary_file_test",
            "source_type" : "file",
            "source" : "test.bin"
        }
    ]
}

will generate two c++11 files to include in your project, enabling easy resource retrieval:

std::string res = test::Resource::string_test();

or

std::string res = test::Resource::Get("string_test");

Update 30.07.2015: now resources can be defined more concisely in YAML. A minimal resource definition in YAML looks like the following:

header: "res.h"
source: "res.cpp"

resources:
  -
    compression: "LZ4F"
    name: "some_text"
    source: "some text"
    source_type: "string"

Enumerating the resources

Resource keys in the compiled resource can be enumerated passing a callable to GetKeys:

std::vector<std::string> keys;
test::Resource::GetKeys([&keys](char const* key){
    keys.emplace_back(key);
});

Compression

Using an optional compression library bundle, adding a compression property to a resource description enables transparent (de)compression:

"compression" : "LZ4HC"

Customization

updated 24.11.2014:
ris now uses text resources generated and bootstrapped by its own early version. The goal is to make The code generator is customizable. The default template can be seen in template.json, and the generated header in template.h. The generation sequence can be seen in ris.cpp.

Using the second parameter to ris, it’s possible to override strings in the generator template. See an example below.

C++03

updated 27.11.2014:
One such customization is available in template_cpp03.json, where the C++11 constructs are replaced with generateable C++03 constructs.

To generate the resources using the C++03 template:

ris my_template.json template_cpp03.json

Why C++?

Such code generator as ris could most probably be developed more rapidly using any other programming language with a huge framework and a ton of libraries behind them. My personal preference for certain kinds of small projects lies in the area of self-contained single-binary/single-file executables or libraries, such as Lua. Lua is the primary motivation for this project, as it is itself a compact library for building flexible and extensible prototypes and tools. ris can act as a bootstrapping component to embed resources for building specialized shell-scripting replacements, i.e. for massive scripted file operations.

Source

https://github.com/d-led/ris

There is a number of paths this project can take from here. Features, such as robustness, performance or flexibility could all be addressed, but most probably ris will be shaped by its usage or absence of such.

A Background Ticker, now in C++ with PPL

Unfortunately, the Reactive Extensions for C++ (Rx++) did not work for me as smoothly as their C# counterpart. My goal is to recreate the background ticker from the Rx version. The first, and perhaps not the last example implementation will be using the Parallel Patterns Library by Microsoft, which uses the Concurrency Runtime. The goal is to write a code that abstracts the threads away, and uses some background scheduler to schedule calls to functions in an asynchronous manner.

Here, asynchronous calls will be done by tickers, one of which will poll a value from a bogus frequency meter and write it to the console, whereas the other one will just write “tick”.

First, the frequency meter that gives random values around 62 (a magic number):

#include <mutex>
#include <random>
class FrequencyMeter
{
	mutable std::mt19937 gen;
	std::uniform_int_distribution<int> dis;
	mutable std::mutex m;
public:
	FrequencyMeter() :
		dis(0,3),
		gen(std::random_device()())
	{}

	int Hz() const
	{
		std::lock_guard<std::mutex> lock(m);
		return 60+dis(gen);
	}
};

This class is not the primary concern here, but if the Hz value is accessed from multiple threads, the access should perhaps be serialized (by a mutex here).

Now, one of the side wishes for the ticker is the ability to start and stop it any time. The ticker should also not care what it executes, hence we can take an std::function for now, or perhaps anything callable. Howerver, having c++11 lambdas, it’s easy to convert to standard function (thread-safety and ownership issues notwithstanding yet). Following the examples for cancellation tokens, one can write a small wrapper that will tick at predefined intervals (see full code), wrapping a simple loop:

while (running)
{
	// Check for cancellation. 
	if (concurrency::is_task_cancellation_requested())
	{
		running = false;
		concurrency::cancel_current_task();
	}
	else
	{
		this->tick_once();
		concurrency::wait(interval);						
	}
}

In the small test program, the frequency meter is instantiated and the first ticker is started, ticking once a quarter of a second:

FrequencyMeter FM;
active_ticker measure([&FM]{std::cout<<FM.Hz()<<std::endl;});
measure.start(250);

Then another ticker is started:

active_ticker ticker([]{std::cout<<"tick"<<std::endl;});
ticker.start(500);

And some wait, start and stop logic:

wait(2000); //see the output for a couple of seconds
measure.stop(); //stop the frequency meter
wait(2000); //wait some more
ticker.stop(); //stop ticking
measure.start(250); //start measuring again
wait(2000); //and wait a bit more
measure.stop();

The output looks like this:

60
tick
61
62
tick
61
62
tick
60
60
Canceling measurement ...
tick
60
tick
tick
tick
Restarting measurement ...
tick
60
63
62
61
62
62
62
Done

Any other technology to try elegant ticking (tinkering) with? TBB, zeromq in process?

Asynchronously access an object’s property repeatedly in C#

A question on Stackoverflow got me thinking of a beautiful way of reporting a value of an object in C# repeatedly, something like polling a sensor. Typically, polling is pull-based, but having been reading Intro to Rx for the second time lately, and being convinced of its push-base structural and syntactic eunoia, I’ve created a solution based on Rx listed below.

using System;
using System.Reactive.Concurrency;
using System.Reactive.Linq;

namespace rxtest
{
    class FrequencyMeter
    {
        Random rand = new Random();
        public int Hz
        {
            get { return 60+rand.Next(3); }
        }
    }

    class Program
    {
        static void Main(string[] args)
        {
            var obs = Observable.Generate<FrequencyMeter, int>(
                new FrequencyMeter(), //state
                x => !Console.KeyAvailable, // while no key is pressed
                x => x, // no change in the state
                x => x.Hz, // how to get the value
                x => TimeSpan.FromMilliseconds(250), //how often
                Scheduler.Default)
                .DistinctUntilChanged() //show only when changed
                ;

            using (var _ = obs.Subscribe(x => Console.WriteLine(x)))
            {
                var ticks = Observable.Interval(TimeSpan.FromSeconds(0.5))
                           .Subscribe(x=>Console.WriteLine("tick")); //an example only
                Console.WriteLine("Interrupt with a keypress");
                Console.ReadKey();
            }
        }
    }
}

producing an output similar to that:

Interrupt with a keypress
62
60
62
tick
61
60
tick
62
61
tick
60
62
61
tick
62

Now, with Rx available in C++ that would be interesting what will be left of the eunoia.