C Interview Questions and Answers


How can I implement sets or arrays of bits?

Use arrays of char or int, with a few macros to access the desired bit in the proper
cell of the array. Here are some simple macros to use with arrays of char:

#include <limits.h> /* for CHAR_BIT */

#define BITMASK(b) (1 << ((b) % CHAR_BIT))

#define BITSLOT(b) ((b) / CHAR_BIT)

#define BITSET(a, b) ((a)[BITSLOT(b)] |= BITMASK(b))

#define BITCLEAR(a, b) ((a)[BITSLOT(b)] &= ~BITMASK(b))

#define BITTEST(a, b) ((a)[BITSLOT(b)] & BITMASK(b))

#define BITNSLOTS(nb) ((nb + CHAR_BIT - 1) / CHAR_BIT)

(If you don't have <limits.h>, try using 8 for CHAR_BIT.)

Here are some usage examples. To declare an ``array'' of 47 bits:

char bitarray[BITNSLOTS(47)];

To set the 23rd bit:

BITSET(bitarray, 23);

To test the 35th bit:

if(BITTEST(bitarray, 35)) ...

To compute the union of two bit arrays and place it in a third array (with all three
arrays declared as above):

for(i = 0; i < BITNSLOTS(47); i++)

array3[i] = array1[i] | array2[i];

To compute the intersection, use & instead of |.

As a more realistic example, here is a quick implementation of the Sieve of Eratosthenes,
for computing prime numbers:

#include <stdio.h>

#include <string.h>

#define MAX 10000

int main()


char bitarray[BITNSLOTS(MAX)];

int i, j;

memset(bitarray, 0, BITNSLOTS(MAX));

for(i = 2; i < MAX; i++) {

if(!BITTEST(bitarray, i)) {

printf("%dn", i);

for(j = i + i; j < MAX; j += i)

BITSET(bitarray, j);



return 0;


Posted by:Richards