# Fast numeric string to int

I was working on code to convert a string of ASCII numbers to an integer.

In one code execution hotspot, the case involved code that had to convert 8 decimal number ASCII characters to a number, the result would be an integer in the range 0 - 99,999,999.

Typical code:

``````// given num[] - ASCII chars containing decimal digits 0-9
int sum = 0;
for (int i = 0; i <= 7; i++)
{
sum = (sum * 10) + (num[i] - '0');
}
``````

One way to speed up this code would be to unroll the loop:

``````int sum;
sum = (num[0] - '0') * 10000000 +
(num[1] - '0') * 1000000 +
(num[2] - '0') * 100000 +
(num[3] - '0') * 10000 +
(num[4] - '0') * 1000 +
(num[5] - '0') * 100 +
(num[6] - '0') * 10 +
(num[7] - '0');
``````

Either solution is O(N) in execution speed, where N is the number of numeric ASCII digits.

We can estimate the cost of the code by calculating the number of loads, adds/subtracts, shifts, and multiplies.

For the unrolled loop code, we have

• 8 subtracts, 7 adds, 8 adds to index into num array
• 7 multiplies

Let’s assume all the operations except multiplies are the same cost. Multiplies usually cost more.

Unrolled loop algorithm cost total = 31 ops and 7 multiplies.

But to go faster you have to think bigger.

Now that 64-bit CPUs and OSes are common, we can unleash the full power of 64-bit CPU registers on the problem.

## Concept #1

In the ASCII character set, number characters (‘0’-‘9’) are in the range 0x30 - 0x39 (48-57).

If we bitwise-AND each number ASCII character with 0x0F, we convert the number ASCII character to its corresponding decimal number for that number character.

‘0’ - ‘9’ == 0x30 - 0x39, (0x30 - 0x39) & 0x0F => 0x0 - 0x9

Now if we load an 8 digit numeric string into a 64-bit CPU register, on an Intel CPU (little-endian), we’ll see the following:

``````// given the string "87654321",
// on little-endian Intel CPUs we see the reversed:
sum = 0x3132333435363738
``````

Doing a bitwise-AND of the value with 0x0F0F0F0F0F0F0F0F will give us the decimal digits involved:

``````// given the string "87654321",
// bitwise-AND with 0x0F0F0F0F0F0F0F0F
sum = *((long long *)num) & 0x0F0F0F0F0F0F0F0F;
sum == 0x0102030405060708
``````

## Concept #2

Let’s rewrite the above result so we can distinguish the high digit from the low digit of a number.

Due to the load order of little-endian Intel CPUs, the high digit is stored in the byte below/right of the low digit.

``````// given the string "ZzYyXxWw",
// bitwise-AND with 0x0F0F0F0F0F0F0F0F
sum = 0x0w0W0x0X0y0Y0z0Z
``````

We want to combine the low digit in the ones position and the high digit in the tens position into one number.

• Bitwise-AND ALL the high digits and multiply the high digits by 10 to get them into the tens position
• Right shift the low digits into the same spot as the high digits - no need to multiply since the low digits are already in the ones position
• Add both of them together.
``````// isolate the high digit, multiply by 10,
// shift over the low digit and add in
sum = ((sum & 0x000F000F000F000F) * 10) +
((sum >> 8) & 0x000F000F000F000F);

// now we have the following
// where [Nn] represents decimal number Nn in a byte,
// 0 <= Nn <= 99
// N represents the decimal digit in the tens position
// n represents the decimal digit in the ones position
sum = 0x00[Ww]00[Xx]00[Yy]00[Zz];
``````

Extend the concept to combine the numbers into larger groups.

``````// numbers are in range 0-99 (0x0-0x63) now
// - isolate high number (use 0x7F which encompasses number range)
// - multiply by 100 to move high number into
//   thousands & hundreds position
// - shift low number over to tens and ones position
// - add the two numbers together
sum = ((sum & 0x0000007F0000007F) * 100) + ((sum >> 16) & 0x0000007F0000007F);
``````

There are now two groups of numbers, in the range 0-9,999.

Once more, extend concept.

``````// numbers are in range 0-9,999 (0x0-0x270F) now
// isolate high number (use 0x3FFF which covers number range)
//   then multiply by 10000 to move high number into position
// shift low number over and isolate
// add the two numbers together
sum = ((sum & 0x3FFF) * 10000) + ((sum >> 32) & 0x3FFF);
``````

## Final algorithm

``````// given num[] - ASCII chars containing decimal digits 0-9
long long sum;
sum = *((long long*)num) & 0x0F0F0F0F0F0F0F0F;
sum = ((sum & 0x000F000F000F000F) * 10 )   +
((sum >>  8) & 0x000F000F000F000F);
sum = ((sum & 0x0000007F0000007F) * 100)   +
((sum >> 16) & 0x0000007F0000007F);
sum = ((sum & 0x3FFF)             * 10000) +
((sum >> 32) & 0x3FFF);
``````

The solution is O(lg N) in execution speed, where N is the number of numeric ASCII digits.

Final algorithm estimated cost is

• 7 bitwise ANDs
• 3 right shifts
• 3 multiplies

Assuming equal cost of non-multiply operations results in 14 ops and 3 multiplies.

Algorithm Ops Multiplies
Unrolled loop 31 7
SIMD 14 3

## Prior work

Off to the web to see if someone has developed anything similar or better to this algorithm.

First search result leads to http://govnokod.ru/13461

The first response’s solution resembles my algorithm.

The third response’s solution by a user named bormand is impressive:

``````str.a = (str.a & 0x0F0F0F0F0F0F0F0F) * 2561 >> 8;
str.a = (str.a & 0x00FF00FF00FF00FF) * 6553601 >> 16;
str.a = (str.a & 0x0000FFFF0000FFFF) * 42949672960001 >> 32;
``````

The hex constants used in the bitwise-AND operations are similar to my algorithm and serve the same purpose.

But what are those magic constants used in the multiplication?

Let’s take a look at the first statement:

``````str.a = (str.a & 0x0F0F0F0F0F0F0F0F) * 2561 >> 8;
``````

Recall our high school linear algebra:

``````5x + 3x + x = 9x
``````

So the above multiplication by 2561 can be rewritten as

``````tmp = (str.a & 0x0F0F0F0F0F0F0F0F)
tmp2 = (((256 * 10) * tmp) + 1 * tmp);
// multiply by 256 is the same as left shift by 8
== ((10 * tmp) << 8) + (1 * tmp);
str.a = tmp2 >> 8;
``````

So one multiplication has the same effect as 1 multiply, 1 left shift, and 1 add!!!

Remember the load order on little-endian Intel CPUs.

``````sum = 0x0w0W0x0X0y0Y0z0Z
``````

So the statement `(10 * tmp) << 8` is moving the high digit into the tens position and then shifting the result into the same byte position as the low digits.

The `+ (1 * tmp)` expression adds the low digits to the above high digits expression.

The final `>> 8` moves the combined number into the lower byte.

The result is the high and low digits combined in the tens and ones position in those bytes.

The two other statements combine the ever-larger groups of numbers together.

``````// number groups are in range 0-99 now
// tmp1 = (str.a & 0x00FF00FF00FF00FF);
// str.a = ( ((65536 * 100) * tmp1) + (1 * tmp1) ) >> 16;
//       == ( ((100 * tmp1) << 16) + (1 * tmp1) ) >> 16;
str.a = (str.a & 0x00FF00FF00FF00FF) * 6553601 >> 16;

// number groups are in range 0-9,999 now
// tmp2 = (str.a & 0x0000FFFF0000FFFF);
// str.a = (((4294967296 * 10000) * tmp2) + (1 * tmp2)) >> 32;
//       == ( ((10000 * tmp2) << 32) + (1 * tmp2) ) >> 32;
str.a = (str.a & 0x0000FFFF0000FFFF) * 42949672960001 >> 32;
``````

Let’s calculate the algorithm cost:

``````sum = *(long long *)num;
sum = (sum & 0x0F0F0F0F0F0F0F0F) * 2561 >> 8;
sum = (sum & 0x00FF00FF00FF00FF) * 6553601 >> 16;
sum = (sum & 0x0000FFFF0000FFFF) * 42949672960001 >> 32;
``````

Estimated cost is: