TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Sep 94 Challenge
Volume Number:10
Issue Number:9
Column Tag:Programmer’s Challenge

Programmer’s Challenge

By Mike Scanlin, Mountain View, CA

Note: Source code files accompanying article are located on MacTech CD-ROM or source code disks.

The Rules

Here’s how it works:

Each month we present a different programming challenge here. First, you write some code that solves the challenge. Second, optimize your code (a lot). Then, submit your solution to MacTech Magazine (formerly MacTutor). We choose a winner based on code correctness, speed, size and elegance (in that order of importance) as well as the postmark of the answer. In the event of multiple equally desirable solutions, one winner will be chosen at random (with honorable mention, but no prize, given to the runners up). The prize for the best solution each month is $50 and a limited edition “The Winner! MacTech Magazine Programming Challenge” T-shirt (not available in stores).

In order to make fair comparisons between solutions, all solutions must be in ANSI compatible C (i.e., don’t use Think’s Object extensions). Use only pure C code. We will disqualify any entries with any assembly in them (except for those challenges specifically stated to be in assembly). You may call any routine in the Macintosh toolbox you want (e.g., it doesn’t matter if you use NewPtr instead of malloc). We test entries with the FPU and 68020 flags turned off in THINK C. We time routines with the latest version of THINK C (with “ANSI Settings”, “Honor ‘register’ first”, and “Use Global Optimizer” turned on), so beware if you optimize for a different C compiler. Limit your code to 60 characters wide. This helps us deal with e-mail gateways and simplifies page layout.

We publish the solution and winners for this month’s Programmers’ Challenge in the issue two months later. All submissions must be received by the 10th day of the month printed on the front of this issue.

Mark solutions “Attn: Programmers’ Challenge Solution” and send them via e-mail - Internet, AppleLink MT.PROGCHAL, CompuServe 71552,174 and America Online MT PRGCHAL. Include the solution, all related files, and your contact information. If you send via snail mail, please send a disk with those items on it; see “How to Contact Xplain Corporation” on page 2.

MacTech Magazine reserves the right to publish any solution entered in the Programming Challenge of the Month. Authors grant MacTech Magazine the non-exclusive right to publish entries without limitation upon submission of each entry. Authors retain copyrights for the code.

Erase Scribble

Challenge entrants liked the proposal for one function to set up their caches (which was not timed) and a second function to do the actual work (which was time critical). I can see why; it mirrors the way we implement things in the real world quite well. So, this month we have another challenge along these lines. The goal is to write the core code for an eraser tool. The tool erases line segments of a scribble drawn in the draw layer of a drawing program.

A Scribble is a variable length structure defined as:

/* 1 */
typedef struct Scribble {
 Point  startingPoint;
 Point  deltaPoints[];
}  Scribble,

The startingPoint is where the scribble begins and each Point after that is a signed (dv,dh) offset from that point to the next point. At the very end of the deltaPoints array is a (0,0) entry. So if you had these bytes (0001 0004 0007 FFFF 0001 0001 0000 0000) then the scribble would consist of two line segments. One going from (x=4,y=1) to (3,8) and the other from (3,8) to (4,9).

The prototype of the two functions you write are:

/* 2 */
void *EraseScribbleInit(  theScribble, eraserSize);
unsigned short eraserSize;

Boolean PtInScribble(thePoint, theScribble, eraserSize,
Point   thePoint;
unsigned short eraserSize;

void      *privateScribbleDataPtr;

The routine EraseScribbleInit will be called once at the beginning of a given erase operation. It will NOT be timed (only the PtInScribble will count towards your time). It can create whatever lookup tables PtInScribble may need (up to 32K) and return a pointer to that private data. The return value from EraseScribbleInit will be passed to PtInScribble as the privateScribbleDataPtr parameter. You decide what it points to (if anything). And, yes, the same ScribbleHndl will be passed to the Init routine that is passed to the PtInScribble routine.

The scribbles that will be used will have between 2 and 500 Points (including the startingPoint). The eraserSize parameter is the size in pixels of the square eraser that the user is moving around. It will vary from 4 to 16 pixels and will be an even number. The function PtInScribble should return true if any part of the eraser is touching any of the vertices of the Scribble and false if not. Note that having the eraser intersect the middle of a line segment that is part of the Scribble does not count as a hit. This particular eraser only erases when it touches an endpoint of a segment. The (dv,dh) numbers will typically be small, probably 16 or less in absolute value with the average around 4 in absolute value (so that we have smooth Scribbles). The bounding box that contains each Scribble will be 1024 pixels square or smaller.

The goal is to make a PtInScribble routine fast enough so that the eraser the user is dragging around is not sluggish (imagine erasing a page containing 20 or 30 separate overlapping Scribbles). My test routine that calls your PtInScribble routine will take care of all the drawing and actual erasing; you just have to determine when the eraser touches a vertex of the Scribble or not.

Oh, yeah, one more thing: September is always Assembly Language Month here at the Programmer Challenge, and so, for this month only, you are allowed to use as much assembly language as you like in your solution. In fact, it is perfectly admissible to send in a C wrapper around a 100% assembly language solution. But you still have to write it in Think C using the prototypes above (use asm {} within the body of the function). In addition, you can write 68040 assembly if you want to (i.e. use instructions or addressing modes that may not exist on 68000, 020 and/or 030). Let ’em rip!

Two Months Ago Winner

Congratulations to Bob Noll (Arlington Heights, IL) for his excellent entry in the Color Space Conversion challenge. This is Bob’s first 1st place showing and it was during a month where there were several very high quality entries. Most of the 15 entries were no more than 50% slower than Bob’s winning entry.

Here are the times, code sizes and data sizes for each entry. The data size represents how many bytes the RGBtoYUVInit routine allocated when it was called (i.e. the size of the private lookup tables). Numbers in parens after a person’s name indicate how many times that person has finished in the top 5 places of all previous Programmer Challenges, not including this one:

Name time code data

Bob Noll 135 1038 394272

Dan Waylonis 153 518 9232

Bob Boonstra (10) 165 1508 789520

Ernst Munter (1) 173 404 12336

Larry Landry (2) 174 1554 795728

Joe Francis 183 1154 9342

Ronald Nepsund (2) 190 744 7184

Clement Goebel (3) 195 1094 8208

Michael Panchenko (1) 198 278 9232

Allen Stenger (7) 227 1528 520240

John Schlack 236 916 9232

Ted DiSilvestre 283 674 9408

Daniel Farmer (1) 289 830 8208

Kevin Cutts (3) 563 698 31952

David Nebiker 4955 1178 27664

Bob decided to optimize his RGBtoYUVInit routine even though it would not count towards his overall time (bravo!). To get both speed and accuracy he uses a 96-bit fixed point number to create his lookup tables. He then implemented his own routines to perform math on this custom format. And he was able to integrate his rounding factor into his lookup tables to save himself that final step when calculating y, u and v.

I received quite a bit of mail regarding my statement “.5 rounding down to zero.” I did not disqualify anyone for misinterpreting this. What I meant was “.5 should round towards zero” meaning that -.5 to .5 inclusive should be rounded to zero. There are gains to be had when writing a JPEG compression engine if you can get as many zeros as possible up front, which is the reason for this non-standard (i.e. symmetrical about zero) way of rounding.

Here’s Bob’s winning solution:

/* 3 */
Written by Robert A. Noll, July, 1994.  Copyright © 1994 Robert A. Noll
RGBtoYUV.h - Header for RGBtoYUV routine.
#define NegToZero 1
typedef struct {
 unsigned long   sig;
 unsigned long*  rp;
 unsigned long*  gbp;
 unsigned char*  up;
 unsigned char*  vp;
 unsigned long   r[256];
 unsigned long   gb[65536];
 unsigned char   u[65536];
 unsigned char   v[65536];
 } PrivateBlock;

void *RGBtoYUVInit(void);

void RGBtoYUV(unsigned char *rPtr, // Red buffer
   unsigned char *gPtr,   // Green buffer
   unsigned char *bPtr,   // Blue buffer
   unsigned char *yPtr,   // Luminance buffer
     signed char *uPtr,   // U Chrominance buff
   signed char *vPtr,// V Chrominance buff
   unsigned long numPixels, // Number of Pixels
   void *privateDataPtr); // My private data

RGBtoYUV.c - Convert RGB color to YUV color.

#include "RGBtoYUV.h"


RGBtoYUV - Calculate the Y, U, and V values for set of R, G, and B values 
input.  This function relies completely on the data set up by RGBtoYUVInit 
and therefore checks the validity of the data sent.  It will return with 
no action if data is not valid.

void RGBtoYUV(unsigned char *rPtr, // Red buffer
   unsigned char *gPtr,   // Green buffer
   unsigned char *bPtr,   // Blue buffer
   unsigned char *yPtr,   // Luminance buffer
   signed char *uPtr,// U Chrominance buff
   signed char *vPtr,// V Chrominance buff
   unsigned long numPixels, // Number of Pixels
   void *privateDataPtr)  // My private data
 PrivateBlock* pb = (PrivateBlock*)privateDataPtr;
 unsigned long *rp = pb->rp;
 unsigned long *gbp = pb->gbp;
 unsigned char *up = pb->up;
 unsigned char *vp = pb->vp;
 unsigned long tmp;
 union {
 unsigned short i;
 unsigned char c[2];
 } gb;
 if (pb->sig != 'RNCS') return;
 for (; numPixels>0; --numPixels,++rPtr,++gPtr,++bPtr,
 ++yPtr,++uPtr,++vPtr) {
 gb.c[0] = *gPtr;//Get index into gb and v tables 
 gb.c[1] = *bPtr;
 tmp = rp[*rPtr] + gbp[gb.i]; //  Calculate Y value from tables
 *yPtr = *((unsigned char*)&tmp);
 *vPtr = (*rPtr - vp[gb.i]) >> 1;  //  Calculate V value from table
 gb.c[0] = *rPtr;//Get index into u table
 gb.c[1] = *gPtr;
#if NegToZero
 //If for Negs .5 rounds up to 0 then if R == G and R|G > B we calc special.
 if (*rPtr==*gPtr && *gPtr>*bPtr)
 *uPtr = ((*bPtr - *gPtr) + 1) >> 1;
 *uPtr = (*bPtr - up[gb.i]) >> 1;  // Calculate U value from table

RGBtoYUVInit.c - Sets up the tables for use by RGBtoYUV.

#include "RGBtoYUV.h"

// A fixed point number type with 8 bits of intregral part and 88 bits 
of fractional part.
typedef struct {
 unsigned long val[3];
 } BigNum;
typedef struct {
 BigNum y[256];
 BigNum g[256];
 BigNum b[256];
 } TempBlock;

Multiply - Takes a BigNum and multiplies it by a number in the range 
0 - 255.  
Result is put into 'ans'.

void Multiply(void* bits, unsigned char num, void* ans)
 int x;
 unsigned short* bp = (unsigned short*)bits + 5;
 unsigned short* ap = (unsigned short*)ans + 5;
 unsigned long val = 0;
 for (x=6; x; --x,--bp,--ap) {
 val += (unsigned long)*bp * num;
 *ap = val;
 val >>= 16;

Add - Adds two BigNums and returns the result in 'ans'

void Add(void* bits1, void* bits2, void* ans)
 int x;
 unsigned short* bp1 = (unsigned short*)bits1 + 5;
 unsigned short* bp2 = (unsigned short*)bits2 + 5;
 unsigned short* ap = (unsigned short*)ans + 5;
 unsigned long val = 0;
 for (x=6; x; --x,--bp1,--bp2,--ap) {
 val += (unsigned long)*bp1 + *bp2;
 *ap = val;
 val >>= 16;
RGBtoYUVInit - Sets up all the tables used by the RGBtoYUV function.
Since accuracy is a concern, I use my own number format and routines 
to calculate tables.  It turns out that FP routines are just as accurate 
but my stuff is 3x faster.

About calculations in general:

A table with all 16M values for each of Y, U, and V would be nice but, at 48MB, would be way over 1MB limit. With minor calcs in 'RGBtoYUV' I need two 64K entry tables for each of U and V. At full precision they would be 768K each. They get reduced greatly later. The Y table I break into two tables: one for the R calcs and one for the G and B combination. At full precision they would take 3K and 768K respectively. They get reduced later also. At this point we are a lot closer to the 1MB limit.

About Y calculations:

• 24 bits of fractional precision for the two tables was found to give proper results. This was found by checking the result of rounding the full precision result against the rounding of the sum of the two table entries for EVERY one of the 16M combinations. This allows us to represent our table entries in tables of 'unsigned long's. Table sizes are thus reduced to 1K and 256K.

• Rounding is handled by adding .7FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF to the 'gb' table values. This allows RGBtoYUV to just truncate its result.

• When R, G, and B are all equal then Y is the same number. With the tables that are built the checking for such a limited case (256 out of 16,777,216) just added space. (To calc 16M values takes a little over 2 minutes)

About U and V in general:

• Since B and R are multipied by .5 for these calcs we can except them as 7 bits of integral part and 1 bit of fraction.

• Since the B or R calculation will always result in some number X.0 or X.5. This enables us to do all rounding in the table values. Also we are able to store the table numbers in the same 7.1 bit format.

• If rounding is always down then RGBtoYUV can just truncate after the subtraction. If rounding is to be toward zero then special handling is needed.

About V calculations:

Because of the number of decimal places and the fact that the multipliers add up to .50000001 the G and B combination will never result in exactly X.0 or X.5. Thus for V we don't need to worry about whether -0.5 rounds up or down.

About U calculations:

• The R and G combination values will result in an X.0 or X.5 result when R == G

• If rounding is always down (.5 -> 0 and -.5 -> -1) then truncation after the calculation is all that is needed.

• If rounding is always towards zero (.5 -> 0 and -.5 -> 0) then RGBtoYUV will add .5 and then truncate when R and G are equal. All other cases will still be handled with just truncation.

/* 4 */
void *RGBtoYUVInit(void)
 short r,g,b;
 BigNum mat[] = {
    { 0x004C8B43, 0x95810624, 0xDD2F1A9F },/*.29900000*/
    { 0x009645A1, 0xCAC08312, 0x6E978D4F },/*.58700000*/
    { 0x001D2F1A, 0x9FBE76C8, 0xB4395810 },/*.11400000*/
    { 0x002B3246, 0xA4293F94, 0x6A85AFD7 },/*.16873590*/
    { 0x0054CDB9, 0x5BD6C06B, 0x957A5028 },/*.33126410*/
    { 0x00800000, 0x00000000, 0x00000000 },/*.50000000*/
    { 0x00800000, 0x00000000, 0x00000000 },/*.50000000*/
    { 0x006B2F1C, 0x4D3DA074, 0x7F2DDD88 },/*.41868760*/
    { 0x0014D0E3, 0xDDB57D4F, 0xE1EA9636 },/*.08131241*/
    { 0x007FFFFF, 0xFFFFFFFF, 0xFFFFFFFF } /*.49999999*/
 unsigned long *rp, *gbp;
 BigNum *gp, *bp, *yp, yt, ut, vt, xt;
 unsigned char *up, *vp;
 PrivateBlock *pb;
 TempBlock *tb;

 pb = (PrivateBlock*)NewPtr(sizeof(PrivateBlock));
 if (pb==0) {
 DebugStr("\pOut of Memory");
 pb->rp = pb->r;
 pb->gbp = pb->gb;
 pb->up = pb->u;
 pb->vp = pb->v;
 tb = (TempBlock*)NewPtr(sizeof(TempBlock));
 if (tb==0) {
 DebugStr("\pOut of Memory");
// r-values never = x.0 or x.5
 rp = pb->rp;
 for (r=0; r<256; ++r,++rp) {
 *rp = *((unsigned long*)&xt);
// This method same as 0-255, 0-255 method.
// My calc routines equal SANE routines and are 3 times faster.
// u-values are never == x.0 or x.5
// v-values are never == x.0 or x.5
  yp = tb->y;
  gp = tb->g;
  bp = tb->b;
 gbp = pb->gbp;
  up = pb->up;
  vp = pb->vp;
 for (b=0; b<256; ++b,++yp,++gp,++bp,++gbp,++up,++vp) {
 *gbp = *((unsigned long*)yp);
 // Add(gp,&mat[9],gp);
 *up = *((unsigned short*)gp) >> 7;
 // Add(bp,&mat[9],bp);
 *vp = *((unsigned short*)bp) >> 7;
 for (g=1; g<256; ++g) {
 *gbp = *((unsigned long*)&xt);
 // Add(&ut,&mat[9],&xt);
 *up = *((unsigned short*)&ut) >> 7;
 // Add(&vt,&mat[9],&xt);
 *vp = *((unsigned short*)&vt) >> 7;
 yp = &tb->y[1];
 gp = &tb->g[1];
 bp = &tb->b[1];
 for (b=1; b<256;
 ++b,++gbp,++yp,++up,++gp,++vp,++bp) {
 *gbp = *((unsigned long*)&xt);
 if (g==b) {
 *up = b;
 *vp = b;
 else {
 *up = *((unsigned short*)&xt) >> 7;
 *vp = *((unsigned short*)&xt) >> 7;
 if (tb!=0)

 pb->sig = 'RNCS';
 return pb;


Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

The best GIF making apps
Animated GIFs have exploded in popularity recently which is likely thanks to a combination of Tumblr, our shorter attention spans, and the simple fact they’re a lot of fun. [Read more] | Read more »
The best remote desktop apps for iOS
We've been sifting through the App Store to find the best ways to do computer tasks on a tablet. That gave us a thought - what if we could just do computer tasks from our tablets? Here's a list of the best remote desktop apps to help you use your... | Read more »
Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade guide - How...
Warhammer 40,000: Freebladejust launched in the App Store and it lets you live your childhood dream of blowing up and slashing a bunch of enemies as a massive, hulking Space Marine. It's not easy being a Space Marine though - and particularly if... | Read more »
Gopogo guide - How to bounce like the be...
Nitrome just launched a new game and, as to be expected, it's a lot of addictive fun. It's called Gopogo, and it challenges you to hoparound a bunch of platforms, avoiding enemies and picking up shiny stuff. It's not easy though - just like the... | Read more »
Sago Mini Superhero (Education)
Sago Mini Superhero 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: KAPOW! Jack the rabbit bursts into the sky as the Sago Mini Superhero! Fly with Jack as he lifts impossible weights,... | Read more »
Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes guide - How...
Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes is all about collecting heroes, powering them up, and using them together to defeat your foes. It's pretty straightforward stuff for the most part, but increasing your characters' stats can be a bit confusing because it... | Read more »
The best cooking apps (just in time for...
It’s that time of year again, where you’ll be gathering around the dinner table with your family and a huge feast in front of you. [Read more] | Read more »
Square Rave guide - How to grab those te...
Square Rave is an awesome little music-oriented puzzle game that smacks of games like Lumines, but with its own unique sense of gameplay. To help wrap your head around the game, keep the following tips and tricks in mind. [Read more] | Read more »
Snowboard Party 2 (Games)
Snowboard Party 2 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Crowned the best snowboarding game available on the market, Snowboard Party is back to fulfill all your adrenaline needs in... | Read more »
One Button Travel (Games)
One Button Travel 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: “To cut a long story short, If you like interactive fiction, just go buy this one.” - “Oozes the polish that... | Read more »

Price Scanner via

Holiday weekend Mac sales roundup: B&H Ph...
B&H Photo continues to have all new Macs on sale for up to $500 off MSRP as part of their Black Friday/Holiday weekend sale. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina... Read more
iMobie Releases its Ace iOS Cleaner PhoneClea...
iMobie Inc. has announced the new update of PhoneClean 4, its iOS cleaner designed to reclaim wasted space on iPhone/iPad for use and keep the device fast. Alongside, iMobie hosts a 3-day giveaway of... Read more
U.S. Cellular Offering iPad Pro
U.S. Cellular today announced that it is offering the new iPad Pro with Wi-Fi + Cellular, featuring a 12.9-inch Retina display with 5.6 million pixels — the most ever in an iOS device. U.S. Cellular... Read more
Newegg Canada Unveils Black Friday Deals for...
Newegg Canada is offering more than 1,000 deep discounts to Canadian customers this Black Friday, available now through Cyber Monday, with new deals posted throughout the week. “Black Friday is... Read more
Black Friday: Macs on sale for up to $500 off...
BLACK FRIDAY B&H Photo has all new Macs on sale for up to $500 off MSRP as part of their early Black Friday sale including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $... Read more
Black Friday: Up to $125 off iPad Air 2s at B...
BLACK FRIDAY Walmart has the 16GB iPad Air 2 WiFi on sale for $100 off MSRP on their online store. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available): - 16GB iPad Air 2 WiFi: $399, save $... Read more
Black Friday: iPad mini 4s on sale for $100 o...
BLACK FRIDAY Best Buy has iPad mini 4s on sale for $100 off MSRP on their online store for Black Friday. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available): - 16GB iPad mini 4 WiFi: $299.... Read more
Black Friday: Apple Watch for up to $100 off...
BLACK FRIDAY Apple resellers are offering discounts and bundles with the purchase of an Apple Watch this Black Friday. Below is a roundup of the deals being offered by authorized Watch resellers:... Read more
Black Friday: Target offers 6th Generation iP...
BLACK FRIDAY Save $40 to $60 on a 6th generation iPod touch at Target with free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale prices for online orders only, in-store prices may vary: -... Read more
Black Friday: Walmart and Target offer iPod n...
BLACK FRIDAY Walmart has the 16GB iPod nano (various colors) on sale for $119.20 on their online store for a limited time. That’s $30 off MSRP. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if... Read more

Jobs Board

Specialist *Apple* /Mac Desktop - University...
…technical support, expertise and user training for a variety of Apple /Macintosh hardware, software and devices.Researches, analyzes and resolves complex Apple Read more
*Apple* Site Security Manager - Apple (Unite...
# Apple Site Security Manager Job Number: 42975010 Culver City, Califo ia, United States Posted: Oct. 2, 2015 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** The Apple Site Read more
WiSE *Apple* Pay Quality Engineer - Apple (...
# WiSE Apple Pay Quality Engineer Job Number: 44313381 Santa Clara Valley, Califo ia, United States Posted: Nov. 13, 2015 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Join our Read more
Holiday Retail Associate with *Apple* Knowl...
…and assertive.Someone who can troubleshoot iOS devices (iPhone and iPad) and Apple Mail issues.Someone who can offer solutions.Someone who can work weekends.Someone with Read more
*Apple* Systems Engineer (Mclean, VA and NYC...
Summary:Assist in providing strategic direction and technical leadership within the Apple portfolio, including desktops, laptops, and printing environment. This person Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.