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# Subtracting unsigned ints

 P: n/a Hi, I have a function which compares two unsigned ints and returns their difference in order to establish which is the greater of the two. int Compare(unsigned int time_left, unsigned int time_right) { return (time_left - time_right); } usage - if( Compare(time_left, time_right) > 0) // the time has come. The problem is that when time_left is 5 and time_right is 10, I get -5, but if time_left is 5 and time_right is 0xc0000005 (a number greater than 5) I get a positive value when I wish to get a negitive one. I understand why I get this positive value - because the negaitve bit is set in time_right, but how can I change my code so that I get the desired results. Thanks for your help, Barry. Jun 20 '06 #1
10 Replies

 P: n/a bg***@yahoo.com wrote: Hi, I have a function which compares two unsigned ints and returns their difference in order to establish which is the greater of the two. int Compare(unsigned int time_left, unsigned int time_right) { return (time_left - time_right); } usage - if( Compare(time_left, time_right) > 0) // the time has come. The problem is that when time_left is 5 and time_right is 10, I get -5, but if time_left is 5 and time_right is 0xc0000005 (a number greater than 5) I get a positive value when I wish to get a negitive one. I understand why I get this positive value - because the negaitve bit is set in time_right, but how can I change my code so that I get the desired results. If the exact difference doesn't matter; return (time_left > time_right); or return ((time_left > time_right) ? 1 : 0); -- Ian Collins. Jun 20 '06 #2

 P: n/a b...@yahoo.com wrote: Hi, I have a function which compares two unsigned ints and returns their difference in order to establish which is the greater of the two. You can't subtract two unsigned ints and yield a negative number. int Compare(unsigned int time_left, unsigned int time_right) { return (time_left - time_right); } usage - if( Compare(time_left, time_right) > 0) // the time has come. The problem is that when time_left is 5 and time_right is 10, I get -5, but if time_left is 5 and time_right is 0xc0000005 (a number greater than 5) I get a positive value when I wish to get a negitive one. Try... if (time_left < time_right) return -1; if (time_left > time_right) return +1; return 0; Or... return (time_left < time_right) ? -1 : (time_left > time_right); Or... return (time_left > time_right) - (time_left < time_right); I understand why I get this positive value - because the negaitve bit is set in time_right, ... No, time_right is an unsigned int. There is _no_ negative (sign) bit. The problem is that arithmetic on unsigned ints is performed modulo one more than UINT_MAX. -- Peter Jun 20 '06 #3

 P: n/a bg***@yahoo.com writes: Hi, I have a function which compares two unsigned ints and returns their difference in order to establish which is the greater of the two. int Compare(unsigned int time_left, unsigned int time_right) { return (time_left - time_right); } usage - if( Compare(time_left, time_right) > 0) // the time has come. The problem is that when time_left is 5 and time_right is 10, I get -5, but if time_left is 5 and time_right is 0xc0000005 (a number greater than 5) I get a positive value when I wish to get a negitive one. I understand why I get this positive value - because the negaitve bit is set in time_right, but how can I change my code so that I get the desired results. It doesn't matter what you set. It's supposed to be an unsigned int so it gets promoted to something higher than int (assuming that int has 4 bytes) to be able to store the positive value. They probably get promoted to long so you have a difference between two long arguments. But, you are returning int even if the unsigned value doesn't fit in an int. -- Ioan - Ciprian Tandau tandau _at_ freeshell _dot_ org (hope it's not too late) (... and that it still works...) Jun 20 '06 #4

 P: n/a Nelu wrote: bg***@yahoo.com writes:Hi,I have a function which compares two unsigned ints and returns theirdifference in order to establish which is the greater of the two.int Compare(unsigned int time_left, unsigned int time_right){ return (time_left - time_right);}usage -if( Compare(time_left, time_right) > 0) // the time has come.The problem is that when time_left is 5 and time_right is 10, I get -5,but if time_left is 5 and time_right is 0xc0000005 (a number greaterthan 5) I get a positive value when I wish to get a negitive one.I understand why I get this positive value - because the negaitve bitis set in time_right, but how can I change my code so that I get thedesired results. It doesn't matter what you set. It's supposed to be an unsigned int so it gets promoted to something higher than int (assuming that int has 4 bytes) to be able to store the positive value. They probably get promoted to long so you have a difference between two long arguments. But, you are returning int even if the unsigned value doesn't fit in an int. You were doing fine until the second sentence, which is wrong and misleading: Wrong because unsigned int is not "promotable" at all, and misleading because the four-byte int is a red herring that has nothing to do with anything. The third sentence, since its premise is a falsehood, is simply meaningless. Your final sentence, though, correctly identifies the crux of the problem. Others have offered solutions. -- Eric Sosman es*****@acm-dot-org.invalid Jun 20 '06 #5

 P: n/a Nelu wrote: bg***@yahoo.com writes: Hi, I have a function which compares two unsigned ints and returns their difference in order to establish which is the greater of the two. int Compare(unsigned int time_left, unsigned int time_right) { return (time_left - time_right); } usage - if( Compare(time_left, time_right) > 0) // the time has come. The problem is that when time_left is 5 and time_right is 10, I get -5, but if time_left is 5 and time_right is 0xc0000005 (a number greater than 5) I get a positive value when I wish to get a negitive one. I understand why I get this positive value - because the negaitve bit is set in time_right, but how can I change my code so that I get the desired results. It doesn't matter what you set. It's supposed to be an unsigned int so it gets promoted to something higher than int (assuming that int has 4 bytes) to be able to store the positive value. They probably get promoted to long so you have a difference between two long arguments. But, you are returning int even if the unsigned value doesn't fit in an int. I don't understand what you mean. There's nothing getting promoted in the shown code. The type of (time_left - time_right) is unsigned int. The only conversion in the shown code is that the return value of the function, is (time_left - time_right) converted to type int, which is implementation defined if (time_left - time_right) is greater than INT_MAX. -- pete Jun 20 '06 #6

 P: n/a On 19 Jun 2006 18:06:25 -0700, bg***@yahoo.com wrote in comp.lang.c: Hi, I have a function which compares two unsigned ints and returns their difference in order to establish which is the greater of the two. int Compare(unsigned int time_left, unsigned int time_right) { return (time_left - time_right); } usage - if( Compare(time_left, time_right) > 0) // the time has come. The problem is that when time_left is 5 and time_right is 10, I get -5, but if time_left is 5 and time_right is 0xc0000005 (a number greater than 5) I get a positive value when I wish to get a negitive one. I understand why I get this positive value - because the negaitve bit is set in time_right, but how can I change my code so that I get the desired results. Thanks for your help, What happens if the difference is has greater magnitude that a signed int can hold? If one of the values is UINT_MAX and the other is 0, the difference between them is either positive or negative UINT_MAX, and that won't fit in a signed int on any platform you are ever likely to see in your career. Still assuming it fits (untested): int Compare(unsigned int time_left, unsigned int time_right) { int result; if (time_left >= time_right) { result = time_left - time_right; } else { result = -(int)(time_right - time_left); } return result; } -- Jack Klein Home: http://JK-Technology.Com FAQs for comp.lang.c http://c-faq.com/ comp.lang.c++ http://www.parashift.com/c++-faq-lite/ alt.comp.lang.learn.c-c++ http://www.contrib.andrew.cmu.edu/~a...FAQ-acllc.html Jun 20 '06 #7

 P: n/a Eric Sosman writes: Nelu wrote: bg***@yahoo.com writes:Hi,I have a function which compares two unsigned ints and returns theirdifference in order to establish which is the greater of the two.int Compare(unsigned int time_left, unsigned int time_right){ return (time_left - time_right);}usage -if( Compare(time_left, time_right) > 0) // the time has come.The problem is that when time_left is 5 and time_right is 10, I get -5,but if time_left is 5 and time_right is 0xc0000005 (a number greaterthan 5) I get a positive value when I wish to get a negitive one.I understand why I get this positive value - because the negaitve bitis set in time_right, but how can I change my code so that I get thedesired results. It doesn't matter what you set. It's supposed to be an unsigned int so it gets promoted to something higher than int (assuming that int has 4 bytes) to be able to store the positive value. They probably get promoted to long so you have a difference between two long arguments. But, you are returning int even if the unsigned value doesn't fit in an int. You were doing fine until the second sentence, which is wrong and misleading: Wrong because unsigned int is not "promotable" at all, and misleading because the four-byte int is a red herring that has nothing to do with anything. The third sentence, since The 4 byte thing was a reference to the hex value and the explanation the OP provided. I got the promotion thing wrong. I have re-read the standard. I should've taken another look before posting. Sorry about that. its premise is a falsehood, is simply meaningless. Yes it is. -- Ioan - Ciprian Tandau tandau _at_ freeshell _dot_ org (hope it's not too late) (... and that it still works...) Jun 20 '06 #8

 P: n/a bg***@yahoo.com wrote: I have a function which compares two unsigned ints and returns their difference in order to establish which is the greater of the two. int Compare(unsigned int time_left, unsigned int time_right) { return (time_left - time_right); } usage - if( Compare(time_left, time_right) > 0) // the time has come. The problem is that when time_left is 5 and time_right is 10, I get -5, but if time_left is 5 and time_right is 0xc0000005 (a number greater than 5) I get a positive value when I wish to get a negitive one. I understand why I get this positive value - because the negaitve bit is set in time_right, but how can I change my code so that I get the desired results. By avoiding overflows and undefined behaviour. Forget 'sign bits'. int compare(unsigned int left, unsigned int right) { return (left < right) - (left > right); } -- "I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important." - G.W. Bush, 2002-03-13 "No, we've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the 11th." - George Walker Bush 2003-09-17 Jun 20 '06 #9

 P: n/a Eric Sosman wrote: Nelu wrote: bg***@yahoo.com writes: int Compare(unsigned int time_left, unsigned int time_right) { return (time_left - time_right); } ... It doesn't matter what you set. It's supposed to be an unsigned int so it gets promoted to something higher than int (assuming that int has 4 bytes) to be able to store the positive value. They probably get promoted to long so you have a difference between two long arguments. But, you are returning int even if the unsigned value doesn't fit in an int. You were doing fine until the second sentence, which is wrong and misleading: Wrong because unsigned int is not "promotable" at all, ... To clarify, although not subject to integral promotion, an unsigned int operand is potentially subject to arithmetic conversion. However, in the case at hand, arithmetic conversion is not applicable since both operands are unsigned int. -- Peter Jun 20 '06 #10

 P: n/a CBFalconer wrote: bg***@yahoo.com wrote:I have a function which compares two unsigned ints and returnstheir difference in order to establish which is the greater ofthe two.int Compare(unsigned int time_left, unsigned int time_right){ return (time_left - time_right);}usage -if( Compare(time_left, time_right) > 0) // the time has come.The problem is that when time_left is 5 and time_right is 10, Iget -5, but if time_left is 5 and time_right is 0xc0000005 (anumber greater than 5) I get a positive value when I wish to geta negitive one.I understand why I get this positive value - because the negaitvebit is set in time_right, but how can I change my code so that Iget the desired results. By avoiding overflows and undefined behaviour. Forget 'sign bits'. int compare(unsigned int left, unsigned int right) { return (left < right) - (left > right); } Aside: I think this is backwards from the O.P.'s intent. Either exchange the operands of `-' or interchange `<' and `>'. (Suggestion: Don't make *both* changes. ;-) -- Eric Sosman es*****@acm-dot-org.invalid Jun 20 '06 #11

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