On small operands, the time for function call overheads and memory
allocation can be significant in comparison to actual calculation.
This is unavoidable in a general purpose variable precision
library, although GMP attempts to be as efficient as it can on
both large and small operands.
On some CPUs, in particular the x86s, the static `libgmp.a' should
be used for maximum speed, since the PIC code in the shared
`libgmp.so' will have a small overhead on each function call and
global data address. For many programs this will be
insignificant, but for long calculations there's a gain to be had.
Initializing and Clearing
Avoid excessive initializing and clearing of variables, since this
can be quite time consuming, especially in comparison to otherwise
fast operations like addition.
A language interpreter might want to keep a free list or stack of
initialized variables ready for use. It should be possible to
integrate something like that with a garbage collector too.
An `mpz_t' or `mpq_t' variable used to hold successively increasing
values will have its memory repeatedly `realloc'ed, which could be
quite slow or could fragment memory, depending on the C library.
If an application can estimate the final size then `mpz_init2' or
`mpz_realloc2' can be called to allocate the necessary space from
the beginning (Initializing Integers).
It doesn't matter if a size set with `mpz_init2' or `mpz_realloc2'
is too small, since all functions will do a further reallocation
if necessary. Badly overestimating memory required will waste
It's up to an application to call functions like `mpz_mul_2exp'
when appropriate. General purpose functions like `mpz_mul' make
no attempt to identify powers of two or other special forms,
because such inputs will usually be very rare and testing every
time would be wasteful.
`ui' and `si' Functions
The `ui' functions and the small number of `si' functions exist for
convenience and should be used where applicable. But if for
example an `mpz_t' contains a value that fits in an `unsigned
long' there's no need extract it and call a `ui' function, just
use the regular `mpz' function.
`mpz_abs', `mpq_abs', `mpf_abs', `mpz_neg', `mpq_neg' and
`mpf_neg' are fast when used for in-place operations like
`mpz_abs(x,x)', since in the current implementation only a single
field of `x' needs changing. On suitable compilers (GCC for
instance) this is inlined too.
`mpz_add_ui', `mpz_sub_ui', `mpf_add_ui' and `mpf_sub_ui' benefit
from an in-place operation like `mpz_add_ui(x,x,y)', since usually
only one or two limbs of `x' will need to be changed. The same
applies to the full precision `mpz_add' etc if `y' is small. If
`y' is big then cache locality may be helped, but that's all.
`mpz_mul' is currently the opposite, a separate destination is
slightly better. A call like `mpz_mul(x,x,y)' will, unless `y' is
only one limb, make a temporary copy of `x' before forming the
result. Normally that copying will only be a tiny fraction of the
time for the multiply, so this is not a particularly important
`mpz_set', `mpq_set', `mpq_set_num', `mpf_set', etc, make no
attempt to recognise a copy of something to itself, so a call like
`mpz_set(x,x)' will be wasteful. Naturally that would never be
written deliberately, but if it might arise from two pointers to
the same object then a test to avoid it might be desirable.
if (x != y)
mpz_set (x, y);
Note that it's never worth introducing extra `mpz_set' calls just
to get in-place operations. If a result should go to a particular
variable then just direct it there and let GMP take care of data
Divisibility Testing (Small Integers)
`mpz_divisible_ui_p' and `mpz_congruent_ui_p' are the best
functions for testing whether an `mpz_t' is divisible by an
individual small integer. They use an algorithm which is faster
than `mpz_tdiv_ui', but which gives no useful information about
the actual remainder, only whether it's zero (or a particular
However when testing divisibility by several small integers, it's
best to take a remainder modulo their product, to save
multi-precision operations. For instance to test whether a number
is divisible by any of 23, 29 or 31 take a remainder modulo
23*29*31 = 20677 and then test that.
The division functions like `mpz_tdiv_q_ui' which give a quotient
as well as a remainder are generally a little slower than the
remainder-only functions like `mpz_tdiv_ui'. If the quotient is
only rarely wanted then it's probably best to just take a
remainder and then go back and calculate the quotient if and when
it's wanted (`mpz_divexact_ui' can be used if the remainder is
The `mpq' functions operate on `mpq_t' values with no common
factors in the numerator and denominator. Common factors are
checked-for and cast out as necessary. In general, cancelling
factors every time is the best approach since it minimizes the
sizes for subsequent operations.
However, applications that know something about the factorization
of the values they're working with might be able to avoid some of
the GCDs used for canonicalization, or swap them for divisions.
For example when multiplying by a prime it's enough to check for
factors of it in the denominator instead of doing a full GCD. Or
when forming a big product it might be known that very little
cancellation will be possible, and so canonicalization can be left
to the end.
The `mpq_numref' and `mpq_denref' macros give access to the
numerator and denominator to do things outside the scope of the
supplied `mpq' functions. Applying Integer Functions.
The canonical form for rationals allows mixed-type `mpq_t' and
integer additions or subtractions to be done directly with
multiples of the denominator. This will be somewhat faster than
`mpq_add'. For example,
/* mpq increment */
mpz_add (mpq_numref(q), mpq_numref(q), mpq_denref(q));
/* mpq += unsigned long */
mpz_addmul_ui (mpq_numref(q), mpq_denref(q), 123UL);
/* mpq -= mpz */
mpz_submul (mpq_numref(q), mpq_denref(q), z);
Functions like `mpz_fac_ui', `mpz_fib_ui' and `mpz_bin_uiui' are
designed for calculating isolated values. If a range of values is
wanted it's probably best to call to get a starting point and
iterate from there.
Hexadecimal or octal are suggested for input or output in text
form. Power-of-2 bases like these can be converted much more
efficiently than other bases, like decimal. For big numbers
there's usually nothing of particular interest to be seen in the
digits, so the base doesn't matter much.
Maybe we can hope octal will one day become the normal base for
everyday use, as proposed by King Charles XII of Sweden and later