# Finding the Maximum of Four Integers

2018-02-26Inspired by an analysis of the source code of Rogue, I decided to find out how modern compilers encode selecting the maximum of four integers.

```
int max(int a, int b, int c, int d) {
return a > b ? (a > c ? (a > d ? a : d) : (c > d ? c : d))
: (b > c ? (b > d ? b : d) : (c > d ? c : d));
}
```

It is important to note that this is isolated code generation and a modern compiler could probably do better if more context was available.

Using Clang 5.0, I get the following (with optimizations enabled, of course).

```
0: 39 f7 cmp edi,esi
2: 0f 4d f7 cmovge esi,edi
5: 39 d6 cmp esi,edx
7: 0f 4c f2 cmovl esi,edx
a: 39 ce cmp esi,ecx
c: 0f 4c f1 cmovl esi,ecx
f: 89 f0 mov eax,esi
11: c3 ret
```

I will rename the code according to the calling convention used here.

```
a -> edi
b -> esi
c -> edx
d -> ecx
```

The result follows with some comments on what the code is doing.

```
cmp a,b
cmovge b,a # If a >= b, assign a to b.
# Now b has max(a, b).
cmp b,c
cmovl b,c # If max(a, b) < c, assign c to b.
# Now b has max(max(a, b), c).
cmp b,d
cmovl b,d # If max(max(a, b), c) < d, assign d to b.
# Now b has max(max(max(a, b), c), d).
mov eax,b # Return b through eax.
ret
```

I donâ€™t think it can be done in less code than this.

As one might expect, using C++ and std::max, we get almost identical x86.