CSC161 2010F Imperative Problem Solving

Laboratory: Program Correctness and assert

Summary: In this lab, you will explore the use of C's assert macro.

Prerequisites: Familiarity with functions, separate compilation, and arrays.


a. Create a directory for this lab.

b. In that directory, create our standard Makefile.

c. Review the man page for assert.


Exercise 1: Quotient

Consider the following program, named quotient.c, which is intended to take the quotient of two values entered from the command line.

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>

main (int argc, char *argv[])
  int x = atoi (argv[1]);
  int y = atoi (argv[2]);

  int result = x / y;

  printf ("%d/%d = %d.\n", x, y, result);

  return EXIT_SUCCESS;
} // main

a. Make a copy of the program and compile it.

b. Verify that the program works as expected when given appropriate inputs, such as 4 and 2.

c. What do you expect the program to do when the second parameter is 0?

d. Check your answer experimentally.

Exercise 2: Adding an Assertion

a. Add a call to assert that ensures that the second parameter is nonzero. Then recompile.

b. What do you expect your program to do when the program is given appropriate inputs, such as 128 and 5?

c. Check your answer experimentally.

d. What do you expect your program to do when the second parameter is 0?

e. Check your answer experimentally.

Exercise 3: Cancelling Assertions

The man page for assert indicates that we can turn assertion checking off by adding the -DNDEBUG flag.

a. Arrange to compile your program with that flag set.

b. What do you expect your program to do when the second parameter is 0?

c. Check your answer experimentally.

d. Remove the -DNDEBUG flag.

Exercise 4: Additional Assertions

You program should fail to work correctly if the number of parameters is not 2.

a. Add an assert statement that validates the number of parameters.

b. Verify that your added code has the intended effect.

Exercise 5: Even More Assertions

One of your colleagues has suggested using the the following as an alternative to x = atoi (argv[1]), noting that the call to sscanf returns 0 if it fails to find an integer and 1 otherwise.

  assert (sscanf (argv[1], "%d", &x) == 1);

What do you think about this strategy? Be prepared to discuss your answer with the class.

Exercise 6: Primality

Consider a function, int is_prime (int n), which returns 1 if n is prime and 0 otherwise.

What preconditions and postconditions should this function have?

Be prepared to discuss the preconditions and postconditions with the class.

Exercise 7: Infrastructure for Prime Testing


Compile them together to build a simple tester.

Exercise 8: A Unit Tester

Write unit tests for is_prime.

Exercise 9: Code!

Okay, you're finally ready. Write is_prime and verify that it works correctly.

Exercise 10: Correctness

Add assert statements at appropriate places in is_prime.

For Those With Extra Time



Monday, 11 October 2010 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]

  • Created.
  • The primarily exercise is based on one from Marge Coahran and Henry Walker.


Disclaimer: I usually create these pages on the fly, which means that I rarely proofread them and they may contain bad grammar and incorrect details. It also means that I tend to update them regularly (see the history for more details). Feel free to contact me with any suggestions for changes.

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