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Glossary

Table of Contents

As long as this note remains on this page, any information is subject to change and broken links, etc. are to be expected. Please be restrictive in reporting any errors for now.

1 Common

1.1 Backlog

TODO

1.2 Dummy function

See 1.4.

1.3 Signature

The signature of a function or method is its name and types of parameters and return types. For example, the signature of the function atoi() is int atoi(const char *nptr) (written using the syntax of a function prototype). This signature denotes that the function atoi() takes one parameter, a pointer to a constant string (i.e., that will only be read, not modified) and returns an integer.

1.4 Stub

A stub function (aka dummy) is a placeholder for a full implementation that does the minimal work needed to make code compile. For example, a stub for a create function, e.g., ioopm_hash_table_create(), will simply return NULL :

ioopm_hash_table_t *ioopm_hash_table_create()
{
  return NULL; /// TODO:
}

Quite commonly, a stub function will contain a TODO comment so that it can be easily found and not forgotten.

1.5 Refactoring

Simply put, refactoring is the act of changing the structure of a piece of code without changing its behaviour. A classic example of refactoring is breaking out some behaviour from a function f, and turning it into another function g, and calling g from f in place of the behaviour. This change preserves the semantics of the code, but now the code is more readable because f is shorter and more high-level because it is expressed in terms of g, which should be understandable from the name g rather than having to read the source for g.

Refactoring needs a good selection of tests so that one can make reasonably sure that a change did not accidentally alter behaviour.

There are books on refactoring patterns (the example above is an instance of extract function) that explain how to gradually improve source for maintainability etc., and tools that automate many patterns. For example, by selecting the lines that need to be extracted and extracting them and automatically inserting a call to the extracted function etc.

2 Java

3 C

3.1 Assertions

The C language has nice support for assertions, which is essentially a way to check that a certain property holds at some point in the program, and otherwise crash. Assertions are good for documenting assumptions, preconditions and postconditions in your program. (We are going to cover this when we discuss defensive programming in class.)

Including assert.h in your by program brings in the assert() function, that takes as argument a boolean value and crashes if this value is false. Here is a typical use of assert():

void string_copy(char *to, char *from)
{
  assert(to != NULL);
  assert(from != NULL);
  assert(to != from);
  ...
}

What this will do is make sure that to and false are not NULL, and do not alias when we hit the ... line (because otherwise we would have crashed). This allows us to program to those assumptions, which will simplify the code.

The assertions are documentations (that should correspond to documentation of the interface of this function) that you actually have to pass in actual strings as source and destination to the function. On a crash, the line of the crash will tell us exactly what condition was not satisfied.

You can compile your program in such a way that assertions are removed (for example if you worry about the overhead of having assertions in production code) by adding a -dNDEBUG flag to the compilation.

Do feel encouraged to use assertions in your code to document assumptions and your own understanding of the code. For example, you can add assert(false) to a line of code that you think will never be executed, so that you will have a crash if it ever turns out that your understanding was wrong.

3.2 Function Prototype

In C, a function prototype is a signature of a function used to inform the C compiler of the existence of the function ahead of its definition. Because the C compiler is a one-pass compiler that reads source files just once, from top to bottom, function prototypes are necessary to allow a function f to call a function g that is defined below g in the source file:

double f(double arg)
{
  return g(arg, 2.0);
}

double g(double base, double exp)
{
  return pow(base, exp);
}

An attempt at compiling this will fail, because C does not know g at the time of its calling inside f. The solution is to forward declare the existence of g by adding a function prototype at the top of the file, so that g can be freely called from anywhere in the file:

double g(double base, double exp);

... // as before 

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Nerd fact: These pages are generated using org-mode in Emacs, a modified ReadTheOrg template, and a bunch of scripts.

Ended up here randomly? These are the pages for a one-semester course at 67% speed on imperative and object-oriented programming at the department of Information Technology at Uppsala University, ran by Tobias Wrigstad.

Author: Tobias Wrigstad

Created: 2018-09-18 tis 09:12

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