Ahmed El-Halwagy’s Blog

Archive for the ‘General’ Category


Posted on: November 3, 2009

Hello there,
Sorry, but this blog has been moved to This Site.
This site will remain as is with no updates –only the old articles will stay here. To get the new articles that I write, please visit my other blog
So .. See you there pals! 🙂


In my last post when I linked
to a very interesting article on Eric Lippert’s blog.
Now I want to follow up on the subject of the post increment (++) operator.

Personally I used to think the the post increment operator will increment the value of its operand at the very end of the current
statement (i.e. just before the terminating “;”). So according to my understanding, this expression (x+(y++)+y) would evaluate to 0–
of course of both x and y were initialized to 0.

If you tried this example in the C# compiler you would find that the result of
the expression is 1! (yes not 0 :S). Obviously I was wrong! Here’s how I thought the sequence of evaluating this expression (z = x+(y++)+y;)
would go: First, x is added to y and the result is stored somewhere (a for example)
Second, the result of (#First) will be added to y again (note: y here is still 0, the increment didn’t happen yet)
and the result of this evaluation is stored somewhere (b for example)
Third, the assignment will happen; assigning the result of (#second “b”) to whatever on the left side of the “=” operator.
Fourth: Now (and only now) increment y. y = 1 now.

If this is right, I would get 0 as a result of Console.WriteLine(z); but it is NOT. This flow of evaluation is not correct.
My understanding of the
post increment operator is not right! (I’m doomed, eh!?).

So I checked up the c# documentation, still couldn’t find any specific statement
about when exactly the increment happens. After an hour on the internet, I turned to my favorite site, my
third place
now, Stackoverflow.com.

I logged in and posted a question.
Go ahead click the link and check the accepted answer, if you’re lazy, here’s my summary of the answer.

First you have to know that the ++ operator has an operation to perform with a specified precedence and a SIDE EFFECT. In short, the ++
operator has the higher precednce than (* + – /). See the specs
This means that the operator will execute instantly! Yes Instantly! So the increment will be the first thing to happen (even if it’s
post increment or pre-increment). The difference between pre and post comes from the side effect. When post incrementing the old value is
stored, then the increment happens (i.e. the value of the variable increments),
and the value that’s used to continue evaluating the expression is the (yeah, you guessed it) old value.

So to get back to the example (z = z +(y++) +y;), the order of evaluating this expression would be as follows:

  1. Store the value of y somwhere -say a. a now = 0.
  2. Increment y (remember the increment has the highest precednece).
  3. Add x to the value of a(which is the old value of y; that’s the side effect part of the operator) and save the result of
    the addition somewhere (say b). now b = 0;
  4. Add the value of b to the value of y (what’s the value of y now? yes you’re right, it’s 1), and store the result somewhere
    say c. say now = 1.
  5. Assign the value of c to z. z now = 1.

As you can see, the increment happens instantly. And its side effect forces the use of the old value of the incremented variable
for evaluating the very next part of the expression. After that when trying to dereference the incremented value and get its value,
you will actually get the incremented value.

Makes perfect sense to me now. What about you dear reader?

A little ago Eric Lippert took a stand to the programming myths that people have about c#. Starting by his awesome The stack is an implementation detail
then Not everything derives from object and today’s Precedence vs Order, Redux. I have to say it was an awesome job, very nice articles -just like everything Eric writes. I strongly recommend that you scan through these articles, a lot of mysteries to be unveiled there. I’m not going to repeat what Eric said because I’m too proud to do! Well, not really! It’s just I’m not as good as Eric to think of providing new versions of his articles (what new would these new versions have anyway?) I just want to stop by the last article Precedence vs Order, Redux. I had a nice 12 parts conversation on facebook with one of my friends. At first I posted a Twitter post with a question and a link to Eric’s article. I got a comment from one of my friends –who stands to be one of the very best students at Century 21, IBM. The man’s comment was “value = 1”. Nice and easy! Well, that wasn’t what I expected from this friend -I know the answer, I run the sample code, and seen the value of value :), and I read Eric’s article. What I expected him to say is 0. Because as far as I know, this program should work this way:

1- Get the value of arr[0] .. the inner expression arr[0] .. 0 returned

2- Get the value of arr[0] again .. the outer arr[arr[0]] .. still 0 returned

3- Now assign the value of 0 to the variable value.

4- Now and not before now, Increment arr[0].

Apparently what I know is wrong. The increment didn’t happen the moment I expected it to happen –after assigning the value. Actually it happened before assigning the value. Frankly I don’t understand why!? I tried to search the C# spec and couldn’t find anything to state strictly when the increment should happen in case of post increment and pre-increment.
Another interesting and confusing case is a snippet I saw in a comment by Peter Ibboston on the same article by Eric:

The one that confused me is this C# code which gives different results in C & C#

int[] data={11,22,33};int i=1;data[i++]=data[i]+5;

I couldn’t find a bit in the C# spec that said anything about when increment should happen. I had presumed that the rvalue would be evaluated first followed by the lvalue.

Any ideas where I missed it.

To finalize I would say, there’s no documentation to specifically tell when the increment will happen –AFAIK of course. Eric emphasized an interesting statement in his article too, he said:

I emphasize that the logical sequence is well-defined because the compiler, jitter and processor are all allowed to change the actual order of events for optimization purposes, subject to the restriction that the optimized result must be indistinguishable from the required result in single-threaded scenarios.

The compiler or the Jitter or the processor are all able to modify the logical sequence for optimization purposes. The optimization shouldn’t affect the output in a single-threaded application, however, in a multi-threaded app, it might be observable. Yeah I see. I still don’t know why is this working this way? When exactly the increment is happening?

What do you think dear reader?

Please help me clarify the facts, and eliminate these confusions.

Yeah, I’m back.
I know it’s been a long time since I made my last blog post. Actually there’s no reason why I stopped blogging -besides being lazy of course. However, I’m back, and I’m back with big news. As you’ve read, the title of this post, is Google announced Chrome OS! -see the exclamation mark? I’m not going to claim -like others- that I was not shocked, actually I was. Why yet another operating system, ain’t Mac, Linux, and Windows enough already? Actually there have been a lot of explanations of this call of Goolge, since yesterday. Kent Beck wrote an interesting article about his vision of Chrome OS. Actually Kent’s article is very interesting -I’m sure you can judge that by reading only the title “Chrome OS is Worse, That’s the Point”. Kent, started his discussion with Chrome -the browser, it’s important to be specific from now on:). He mentioned that Chrome’s advantages overweights the disadvantages so that he uses it.

So I decided to try it, to simulate using Chrome as my operating system. I made it my default browser (in spite of Microsoft’s periodic attempts to change my preference) and expanded it to full screen. From then on I did everything I could on the web.

The key idea here -according to Kent- is that, It doesn’t matter if the new invention is better or worse, what matters is the alternatives that this new invention provides for people to do things they care for (I think email, and all web-stuff in general is something most people care for nowadays.

Innovations that start out worse need to be better at something new that matters. Imagine never having to install an application again. Never having to back up. Never having to reinstall the OS because it’s just gotten way too weird. I’d give up a lot to gain that. That was the point of telling you about my experiment: I’ve seen the future and it’s not so bad.

And here’s what Kent thinks MS, Apple, and Linux should do to stay strong on the desktop world:

To remain strong in desktop operating systems, though, Apple or Microsoft or the Linux desktops would have to abandon their current profit model, find a fresh ultra-simplification twist, and run the new business far from rational-but-doomed headquarters (Merlin, Oregon has a lovely abandoned sawmill site ready for development, in case you’re interested). They aren’t likely to do so, though, because it makes no sense

The question about the potential success or failure of Google Chrome OS will remain alive till a long time: -as Google Chrome OS will be shipped only later next year. I’m not sure! What do you think dear reader?

Yeah 🙂 I finally had a blog.

Two months ago I started to seriously think of having a web blog, as a way to express my thoughts online. So, I came to different options. Like building my own blog from scratch which is quite un applicable right now. coz building an effective, fully-featured blog is certainly a time consuming kind of job, and for someone who’s busy as hell just like myself here, is typically too difficult. So I went to another direction and thought, well maybe I can use WSS to build an effective blog quickly and easily. So I started to hit google and search for web hosts that support WSS and ofcourse I found way to many to many that will host any WSS content for me but none of them was free. So instead of being dispeared and let the idea of having a blog disappear -at least temporarly- from my mind, I accepted the solution of having a public blog on some blogging sites like MySpace or the one i’m using here WordPress. So I chose to start something -even a silly thing- better than waiting long time to start the perfect thing.


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