Wednesday, December 25, 2013

[[safeC++]] - concise, pragmatic, unconventional wisdom

First off, this is a 120-page thin book, including about 30 pages of source code in the appendices. Light-weight, concise. Very rare.

I feel the author is bold to advocate avoidance of popular c++ features such as
- "Avoid using pointer arithmetic at all."
- For class fields, avoid built-in types like int. Use Int type -- no need to initialize.
- "Use the new operator only without bracket". Prefer Vector to new[]
- "Whenever possible, avoid writing copy ctor and assignment operators for your class"

I feel these suggestions are similar to my NPE tactics in java. Unconventional wisdom, steeped in a realistic/pessimistic view of human fallibility, rather tedious, all about ....low-level details.

Amidst so many books on architecture and software design, I find this book so distinctive and it speaks directly to me -- a low-level detailed programmer.

I feel this programmer has figured out the true cost/benefit of many c++ features, through real experience. Other veterans may object to his unconventional wisdom, but I feel there's no point proving or convincing. A lot of best practices [1] are carefully put aside by veterans, often because they know the risks and justifications. These veterans would present robust justifications for their deviation -- debatable but not groundless.

[1] like "avoid global variables and gotos"

--finance
Given the author's role as a quant developer I believe all of the specific issues raised are relevant to financial applications. When you read about some uncommon issue (examples in [1]), you are right to question if it's really important to embedded, or telecom, or mainframe domains, but it is certainly relevant to finance.

Incidentally, most of the observations, suggestions are tested on MSVS.

--assert, smartPtr...
I like the sample code. Boost smart ptr is too big to hack. The code here is pocket-sized, even bite-sized, and digestible and customizable. I have not seen any industrial strength smart pointer so simple.

--templates
The sample code provided qualify as library code, and therefore uses some simple template techniques. Good illustration of template techniques used in finance.

[1] for eg the runtime cost of allocating the integer ref count on P49; or the date class.

Any negative?

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