bitwise operator and endianness

Discussion in 'C Programming' started by Rahul, Nov 5, 2007.

  1. Rahul

    Rahul Guest

    Hi Everyone,

    I have a program unit which does >> and << of an integer which is of
    4 bytes length. The logic of shifting and action based on the result,
    assumes that the system is big-endian.

    Accordingly, if i need the program to work fine in a little-endian
    system. I understand that the code needs to be changed. ( I couldn't
    find any statement in C90 about endianness, hence i'm assuming that c
    programs are not portable if the endianness of the system changes)

    I wanted to know if the above holds true for bitwise and (&) and
    bitwise or (|). I think, the system should take care of the
    operation a&b or a|b irrespective of the endianness of the system.

    Please provide your comments.

    Thanks in advance!!!
    Rahul, Nov 5, 2007
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  2. Rahul

    James Kuyper Guest

    The appropriate fix depends upon the way in which that assumption is
    built into the code. Endianness only matters if a) you're sharing data
    between systems with different endianness or b) you're accessing the
    integer as a array of unsigned char. Could you indicate exactly how the
    code makes that assumption? Please give actual code, but simplified down
    to it's essential elements.
    James Kuyper, Nov 5, 2007
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  3. Rahul

    Chris Dollin Guest

    Well, no, I rather suspect it doesn't. What it /does/ depend on is
    how you've chosen to represent the fields in the integer, and how
    you get them in there.

    How are you representing the fields in the integer, and how do
    you get them in there? Show real, minimal, code.
    Chris Dollin, Nov 5, 2007
  4. Rahul

    pete Guest

    No it doesn't.
    Any positive value, right shifted by one, has the same result
    as if that positive value were divided by two instead.
    pete, Nov 5, 2007
  5. Rahul

    Eric Sosman Guest

    Thought experiment:

    int i = 42;
    int j = i * 2;
    int k = i << 1;
    assert (j == k);

    Can the assert() fail? If so, what does it tell you about
    the system's endianness? If not, what does it tell you about
    the *influence* of the system's endianness?
    Eric Sosman, Nov 5, 2007
  6. The shift operators act on values, not bit patterns. This may seem
    confusing, I know. But the fact is that if you depend on the particular
    form of storage, then you are dealing with implementation-specific

    Similarly, if you depend on, for example, using a specific size unsigned
    integer to shift left and then right to zero out the more significant
    bits, your program will not be portable. Nor will it be portable if you
    attempt to shift values greater than the equivalent of the number of
    bits in the type (or by negative numbers of bits). Nor will it be
    portable if the left operand is a negative signed value and the right
    operand is non-zero.

    Now, "4 bytes length" is not useful information here. If CHAR_BIT is 8,
    then the relevant value is "32 bits". The only types for which << and unsigned long and unsigned long long. So your integer must not be of
    type [signed or unsigned] x [char or short or int], nor can it be
    possibly negative and signed long or signed long long.
    If the _values_ are the salient feature of your integers, then your
    programs will be portable as long as
    1) the right operand is no longer than the minimum possible width of
    the left operand and positive, and
    2) the the left operand for >> is never a negative signed value with a
    non-zero right operand.
    But, if you want your code to be portable, use only unsigned operands.
    And remember that any relevant testa should, in the usual case, not
    require that the type of the tested operand be wider than the minimum
    guaranteed by the standard.
    Martin Ambuhl, Nov 5, 2007
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