bporter bporter - 15 days ago 5
C Question

Use of min and max functions in C++

From C++, are

min
and
max
preferable over
fmin
and
fmax
? For comparing two integers, do they provide basically the same functionality?

Do you tend to use one of these sets of functions or do you prefer to write your own (perhaps to improve efficiency, portability, flexibility, etc.)?

Notes:


  1. The C++ Standard Template Library (STL) declares the
    min
    and
    max
    functions in the standard C++ algorithm header.

  2. The C standard (C99) provides the
    fmin
    and
    fmax
    function in the standard C math.h header.



Thanks in advance!

Answer

fmin and fmax are specifically for use with floating point numbers (hence the "f"). If you use it for ints, you may suffer performance or precision losses due to conversion, function call overhead, etc. depending on your compiler/platform.

std::min and std::max are template functions (defined in header <algorithm>) which work on any type with a less-than (<) operator, so they can operate on any data type that allows such a comparison. You can also provide your own comparison function if you don't want it to work off <.

This is safer since you have to explicitly convert arguments to match when they have different types. The compiler won't let you accidentally convert a 64-bit int into a 64-bit float, for example. This reason alone should make the templates your default choice. (Credit to Matthieu M & bk1e)

Even when used with floats the template may win in performance. A compiler always has the option of inlining calls to template functions since the source code is part of the compilation unit. Sometimes it's impossible to inline a call to a library function, on the other hand (shared libraries, absence of link-time optimization, etc.).