About The Contest

The first ever Olympiad of Misguided Geeks contest at Worse Than Failure (or OMGWTF for short) is a new kind of programming contest. Readers are invited to be creative with devising a calculator with the craziest code they can write. One lucky and potentially insane winner will get either a brand new MacBook Pro or comparable Sony VAIO laptop.



Entry #100197: Don't Trust the Hardware

by Jennifer Elaan
When all you have is Verilog, everything starts looking like programmable hardware.

This code assumes the underlying CPU has a very primitive ALU that supports only bit operations (bit shift, XOR, AND and OR), lacking any form of integer arithmetic. There are no instances of +,-,*,or /, used as operators, in the entire body of CalcFunc.cpp.

In addition to standard barrel-shift multiply and divide, and floating point emulation, there are two especially interesting blocks of code in this system, add() and binlog():

add() is actually rather fast, considering the limitations listed above. It's an O(log N) algorithm, a direct software translation of a multilevel carry lookahead add unit. It does a lot of work in parallel, and is completely branch-free, which helps performance on most superscalar CPUs.

binlog() is taken directly from the cross-platform implementation of the binary logarithm from a library I wrote. While most CPUs have a single-cycle version of this instruction, including x86, it is always useful to define a cross-platform implementation. This one runs much faster than any of the O(n) loop-based implementations. It is also a concatenation of two simpler functions, neither of which has a standard instruction: binceil (round a number up to the next power of two) and countbits (count the number of 1 bits set in an integer), both of which are O(log N) algorithms.

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