Specifying Integer Size

Sometimes you know that you’re only going to need a number that goes up to 255. It doesn’t make sense to create a full int since that is typically encoded as 4-bytes large. A single byte is capable of coding numbers up to 255.

Luckily, C and C++ allow you to specifically declare the size of your integer, with the following syntax.

Bytes Bits Signed Unsigned
1 8 int8_t uint8_t
2 16 int16_t uint16_t
4 32 int32_t uint32_t
8 64 int64_t uint64_t

You’re technically using some of these without even knowing it. Assuming you’re running c++ on a 64-bit system, these following types are equivalent:

  • char is a int8_t, an unsigned 1-byte integer
  • short is a int16_t, a signed 2-byte integer
  • int is a int32_t, a signed 4-byte integer
  • long is a int64_t, a signed 8-byte integer
  • size_t is a uint64_t, an unsigned 8-byte integer

C++ Style Guide

If you develop software on a MacOS, you might want to use the style guide, which is compatible with clang’s auto-formatting capabilities.

The style guide notes outlined below are taken directly from Apple’s llvm and outline some of the details I found to be the most noteworthy.

  • Avoid writing #include <iostream> unless you really need more functionality than <stdio.h> is capable of providing with its trusty printf() function

  • Avoid writing using namespace std. It pollutes the global namespace and can cause collisions which are frustrating to debug

  • Avoid using std::endl as a generic substitute for \n. The command std::endl calls os.put('\n') and then calls os.flush() which is likely more computationally intensive than you desire.

  • Avoid using post-increment operators. Favor using pre-increment operators. They are computationally faster and save you from painful debugging later on.

  • Avoid throwing exceptions. Most exceptions can be avoided with good programming practices, and they are computationally expensive to handle.

  • When coding in C++, favor using std::static_cast<T>(var) over C-style casts, (e.g. (T) var).

GNU C Compilers

  • gcc is the Gnu C compiler
  • g++ is the Gnu C++ compiler

However, with this being said, gcc is a fully functional C++ compiler, and g++ is effectively just a mapping to gcc -xc++ -lstdc++ -shared-libgcc

Setting the Version

g++ --std=c++1z # (ISO c++ standard)
g++ --std=gnu++1z # (GNU c++ standard)


  • Optimize compilation for the Raspberry Pi 4

    export CFLAGS="-march=cortex-a72 -mcpu=cortex-a72 -mfloat-abi=hard -mfpu=neon-fp-armv8 -mneon-for-64bits"

Checking Processor

  gcc -march=native -Q --help=target | grep -- '-march=' | cut -f3 | head -n 1
  # on macOS:        'haswell'
  # on AWS EC2:      'skylake-avx512'
  # on Raspberry Pi: 'cortex-a72'