# What is the fastest way to get the value of π?

I'm looking for the fastest way to obtain the value of π, as a personal challenge. More specifically, I'm using ways that don't involve using #define constants like M_PI, or hard-coding the number in. The program below tests the various ways I know of. The inline assembly version is, in theory, the fastest option, though clearly not portable. I've included it as a baseline to compare against the other versions. In my tests, with built-ins, the 4 * atan(1) version is fastest on GCC 4.2, because it auto-folds the atan(1) into a constant. With -fno-builtin specified, the atan2(0, -1) version is fastest. Here's the main testing program (pitimes.c): <!-- language: lang-c --> #include <math.h> #include <stdio.h> #include <time.h> #define ITERS 10000000 #define TESTWITH(x) { \\ diff = 0.0; \\ time1 = clock(); \\ for (i = 0; i < ITERS; ++i) \\ diff += (x) - M_PI; \\ time2 = clock(); \\ printf("%s\ => %e, time => %f\\n", #x, diff, diffclock(time2, time1)); \\ } static inline double diffclock(clock_t time1, clock_t time0) { return (double) (time1 - time0) / CLOCKS_PER_SEC; } int main() { int i; clock_t time1, time2; double diff; /* Warmup. The atan2 case catches GCC's atan folding (which would * optimise the 4 * atan(1) - M_PI'' to a no-op), if -fno-builtin * is not used. */ TESTWITH(4 * atan(1)) TESTWITH(4 * atan2(1, 1)) #if defined(__GNUC__) && (defined(__i386__) || defined(__amd64__)) extern double fldpi(); TESTWITH(fldpi()) #endif /* Actual tests start here. */ TESTWITH(atan2(0, -1)) TESTWITH(acos(-1)) TESTWITH(2 * asin(1)) TESTWITH(4 * atan2(1, 1)) TESTWITH(4 * atan(1)) return 0; } And the inline assembly stuff (fldpi.c) that will only work for x86 and x64 systems: <!-- language: lang-c --> double fldpi() { double pi; asm("fldpi" : "=t" (pi)); return pi; } And a build script that builds all the configurations I'm testing (build.sh): #!/bin/sh gcc -O3 -Wall -c -m32 -o fldpi-32.o fldpi.c gcc -O3 -Wall -c -m64 -o fldpi-64.o fldpi.c gcc -O3 -Wall -ffast-math -m32 -o pitimes1-32 pitimes.c fldpi-32.o gcc -O3 -Wall -m32 -o pitimes2-32 pitimes.c fldpi-32.o -lm gcc -O3 -Wall -fno-builtin -m32 -o pitimes3-32 pitimes.c fldpi-32.o -lm gcc -O3 -Wall -ffast-math -m64 -o pitimes1-64 pitimes.c fldpi-64.o -lm gcc -O3 -Wall -m64 -o pitimes2-64 pitimes.c fldpi-64.o -lm gcc -O3 -Wall -fno-builtin -m64 -o pitimes3-64 pitimes.c fldpi-64.o -lm Apart from testing between various compiler flags (I've compared 32-bit against 64-bit too, because the optimisations are different), I've also tried switching the order of the tests around. But still, the atan2(0, -1) version still comes out on top every time.

## 1 Expert Answer

By:

Patrick B. answered • 06/03/19

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4.8 (23)

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