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WCP: How does your software stack up?

October 18th, 2011 2 comments

When we link our programs together, the success of the operation reassures us that all our code and our static and global(?!) variables fit into the available memory. But what about the function parameters, the local variables and various other unknowns which go on the stack?

When someone mentions dynamic memory allocation, the worst-casers amongst us – which should be all of us – immediately start ranting against heap allocation and advocating either the somewhat safer use of fixed-size-block pools, or the ostensibly even safer but often design-compromising measure of banning of dynamic allocation altogether. But heaps and pools I’ve covered before on this blog. What we all tend to brush under the carpet is the admission that the implicit use of the stack in all our programming (in C and C++ at least) is also dynamic allocation and deserves much more careful consideration than we tend to give it. Read more…

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WCP: Uncertain Times…

September 20th, 2011 1 comment

Timing issues are often important in systems containing software but, ultimately, all timing is determined by hardware. Let’s pursue this by splitting a hypothetical system into (1) the software we’re designing and (2) the platform it’s intended to run on. We also need to consider (3) the toolchain. To be a little more precise: Read more…

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WCP: The Worst Case Principle

September 8th, 2011 No comments

My last article, Whatever Happened to the Worst Case?, was a bit of a rant but it promised further articles on the subject. This is the first of these, which does no more than describe what I mean by the “Worst Case Principle”, or WCP. I am using WCP as both a label in the title and as a tag to identify each of the articles. The series is intended to provoke thought, not to be a complete treatise on designing robust software. That would fill a whole book – at least! Read more…

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Whatever Happened to the Worst Case?

August 25th, 2011 8 comments

I’m dismayed about sloppy attitudes to design. I suspect they’re creeping across from consumer-focused software, where raw average speed is everything and an occasional glitch doesn’t matter. Well, I’m sorry, but as that kind of thinking creeps towards the vehicles I may travel in, or possibly the new nuclear power plant to be commissioned up the road from here, I feel the need to voice my concerns. Read more…

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