Thursday, February 10, 10pm


Submit the contents of your repository via Gradescope. See Deliverables below for what to submit.

This is an individual assignment.

Please see Assignment 3 on Canvas for the Github Classroom link.

This assignment will take you through 3 tasks implementing and using functions in assembly. You will be also asked to write some C (pseudo-)code as a blueprint for your assembly. The C code does not need to compile or run, but needs to reflect the functionality. Feel free to rely on your Java knowledge here.

For each of the required functions, you need to follow the “Assembly Design Recipe” from class. You can optimize your code once you’ve written it – if, for example, there is some repetition that can be trivially removed.

Task 1: Compare

We have provided an implementation of a simple function in C: long compare(long, long). This function takes two signed long integers and returns -1, 0, or 1, based on whether the first argument is less than the second, they are equal, or the first argument is greater than the second.

Your task is to complete the compare program by implementing the main function in compare-main.s. This is also called a “driver”. When compiled, the program should have the following features and behaviour:

  1. Accept exactly two arguments. You can assume that, when provided, these arguments are valid signed long integers.

  2. The provided compare function should be called with these two numbers, converting them from strings as necessary.

  3. Based on the result from the function, the program should print one of the following strings (with a newline at the end) and exit with an exit status of 0:

    • less, if the first command-line argument is less than the second
    • equal, if they are equal
    • greater, if the first argument is greater than the second.
  4. If fewer or more than 2 arguments are provided, the program should print “Two arguments required.”, followed by a newline, and exit with a status of 1.

First, write the main function in C and save it as compare-main.c, where we provided a “stub” for you. The program does not have to compile, but it should be a fairly accurate high-level representation of the assembly program. Do not spend too much time on this, but give it your best shot. Try to use your knowledge of Java and provide comments if you are struggling with C.

Second, implement an assembly version of the main function in compare-main.s. Your program must compile without any modification to the provided compare.c file.

Sample interactions with compare:

$ ./compare 1 2
$ ./compare 2 1
$ ./compare -12 -12
$ ./compare 1
Two arguments required.

Task 2: Fibonacci

The Fibonacci function is defined as:

  • fib(0) = 0
  • fib(1) = 1
  • fib(n) = fib(n−1) + fib(n−2) when n > 1

Write a C program (fib.c) and then an assembly program (fib.s) that calculates the n-th Fibonacci number as defined above and prints the result as shown in the interactions below. You should use the naive implementation with a fib function that makes two recursive calls. You can assume that, if provided, the argument will be a valid long integer. If the integer is negative or if the incorrect number of arguments is provided, you should print the error message “A natural number argument is required.” and exit with the status 1.

Sample interactions:

$ ./fib 0
$ ./fib 10
$ ./fib
A natural number argument is required.
$ ./fib -4
A natural number argument is required.

Task 3: The Maximum of an Array

The final task is to write a function unsigned long array_max(unsigned long n, unsigned long *items), which returns the maximum value of an array of long integers  ≥ 0. The first argument provided is the number of elements, the second argument is the address of the first element.

You do not need to write a C version of this function, but we recommend doing so.

We have provided the driver program in array-max-main.c, which processes the command line arguments and call the array_max function. Once compiled with your implementation, the interactions with array-max should look as follows:

$ ./array-max 1 2
$ ./array-max 42 1
$ ./array-max 3 1 5 8 2 4 8 20 1

Your program must compile without any modification to the provided array-max-main.c file.

Using the Makefile

We have provided a Makefile for you. You can use it as follows on the command line:

  • make: compile all programs (compare, fib, array-max)
  • make clean: basic cleanup, remove binaries
  • make compare: compile the compare program using compare-main.s and compare.c
  • make fib: compile the fib program using fib.s
  • make array-max: compile the array-max program using array-max.s and array-max-main.c


Task 1

Modify the files compare-main.s (implementation) and compare-main.c (blueprint) and commit them to your repository.

Task 2

Modify the files fib.s (implementation) and fib.c (blueprint) and commit them to your repository.

Task 3

Modify the file array-max.s and commit it to your repository.

  • Do not include any executables, object files, or any other binary, intermediate or hidden files.

  • Finally, go to our Gradescope and submit your repository (or a ZIP archive which can be downloaded from Github).

Note: While inspecting C compiler output to learn about assembly is a good approach, you are not, under any circumstances, allowed to submit compiler output as your .s files. Doing so will result in an automatic 0 for the assignment.

Hints and Tips

  • Start early. This doesn’t mean you start writing code right away, but you should at least read the description, clone the assignment repository, and look for “missing links”.

  • Make sure you understand the provided starter code. Ask questions early if not.

  • Each argument to a program is a string, that is, the value is actually a memory address pointing to the first character of the string in memory.

  • The above is reflected in the signature of main, which is int main(int argc, char *argv[])argc is the argument count, and argv is an array of strings. Each string is an array of characters, ending with a null byte/character (i.e., a character whose numeric ASCII value is 0). An array is represented as the address of (= a pointer to) its first element.

  • The first element of argv is always the path and name of the executable. This means the actual arguments start at argv[1].

  • The return value of main is the exit code or exit status of the program. We return 0 by default to signal success.

  • Pay close attention to assembly calling conventions and the use of registers when calling C functions, or when writing functions.

  • For recursive functions, you will need to use the stack to remember values of registers. You can use push and pop or you can use offsets from %rbp as “local variables”.

  • Use examples from the lectures and the labs to help you get unstuck and ask questions.