glibc difftime – no need for optimization

Upon further investigation, difftime can be left as is with no further optimization. Any optimization that can be done will have minimal effect in execution time. I will go over why that is.

__difftime (time_t time1, time_t time0)
  /* Convert to double and then subtract if no double-rounding error could
     result.  */

  if (TYPE_BITS (time_t) <= DBL_MANT_DIG
      || (TYPE_FLOATING (time_t) && sizeof (time_t) < sizeof (long double)))
    return (double) time1 - (double) time0;

  /* Likewise for long double.  */

  if (TYPE_BITS (time_t) <= LDBL_MANT_DIG || TYPE_FLOATING (time_t))
    return (long double) time1 - (long double) time0;

  /* Subtract the smaller integer from the larger, convert the difference to
     double, and then negate if needed.  */

  return time1 < time0 ? - subtract (time0, time1) : subtract (time1, time0);

For the first if condition, TYPE_BITS (time_t) and DBL_MANT_DIG are both constants, so the pre-processor will compare them at compile time and strip them from the executable altogether if they evaluate to true. The same applies to the second if condition. TYPES_BITS <= LDBL_MANT_DIG will be evaluated at compile time.

We can further validate this by compiling the code and looking at the assembly file:

I wrote a tester file that uses time.h's difftime.c:

// len_difftime_test.c
#include <stdio.h>
#include <time.h>
#include <limits.h>
#include <stdint.h>

int main(){
    // test time_t to uint_max conversion
    time_t time1 = time(NULL);
    time_t time0 = time(NULL) + 10;
    uintmax_t dt = (uintmax_t) time1 - (uintmax_t) time0;
    double delta = dt;
    printf("time1 = %d\ntime0 = %d\n", time1, time0);
    printf("(uintmax_t) time1 = %d\n", time1);
    printf("(uintmax_t) time0 = %d\n", time0);

    // test difftime function
    double result;
    result = difftime(time1, time0);
    printf("difftime(time1, time0) = %f\n", result);
    result = difftime(time0, time1);
    printf("difftime(time0, time1) = %f\n", result);

    return 0;

gcc -g -o len_difftime_test len_difftime_test.c

I use gdb debugger to get to line 18 which makes the first call to difftime.
gdb len_difftime_test

Set a breakpoint at line 18 and run:

(gdb) b 18
Breakpoint 1 at 0x400638: file len_difftime_test.c, line 18.
(gdb) r
Starting program: /home/lisac/SourceCode/Seneca/spo600/project/src/glibc/time/len_difftime_test 
time1 = 1490051018
time0 = 1490051028
(uintmax_t) time1 = 1490051018
(uintmax_t) time0 = 1490051028

Breakpoint 1, main () at len_difftime_test.c:18
18      result = difftime(time1, time0);

Step into the difftime function:
__difftime (time1=1490051390, time0=1490051400) at difftime.c:103
103 {
(gdb) s
114     return (long double) time1 - (long double) time0;
(gdb) s
120 }

Short circuiting or test-reordering will not improve the executable since the pre-processor will rid of the comparison of constants when they evaluate to true. As we can see on line 17, there is no condition, only the returning subtract calculation.

Here is the pre-processor output:

cpp difftime.c

  if ((sizeof (time_t) * 8) <= 53 <-- removed
      || (((time_t) 0.5 == 0.5) && sizeof (time_t) < sizeof (long double))) <-- removed
    return (double) time1 - (double) time0;

  if ((sizeof (time_t) * 8) <= 64 || ((time_t) 0.5 == 0.5)) <-- removed
    return (long double) time1 - (long double) time0;

Now I will be looking into more functions that are better candidates for optimization.