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Random Numbers in a Range Using Generic Programming

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Templatized Implementation

Because all the constants computed in Listing Two need to be available at compile time, you need to replace std::numeric_limits<...>::max() with integer traits; see Listing Three.

GCD computation is easy with C++ templates; see Listing Four.

Now you can compute the constants that were defined in Listing Two. Because these constants are derived from m, the parameter to next(max), they are also kept in a traits structure specialized on max; see Listing Five.

You don't just compute rem, last, and gcd, but also determine the dispatch ID, which is used to select one of the three variants of next(max) implementations—actually, next<max>() because m is now a compile-time constant. The NO_LOOP variant is selected when there are no remainder values in the value_t range, and no loop is necessary. Unless a very strange platform is used, m is a power of 2. The RETRY_SAME variant is actually the SimpleRange implementation, and is selected when m and rem are relatively prime, and m cannot be reduced once a random value is rejected. Finally, the REDUCE_MAX variant is selected when m and rem share a common factor, which allows reduction of m—as in the m=684 and rem=340 example discussed previously. Because C++ doesn't allow partial specialization for member functions, and you need partial specialization on a dispatch ID, a private class Dispatch is used. Because Dispatch is specialized on all three values of dispatch_t, only a declaration is necessary for the nonspecialized template (see Listing Six).

Listings Seven and Eight show the straightforward specializations for the NO_LOOP and RETRY_SAME dispatch IDs.

Listing Nine shows the REDUCE_MAX specialization, which implements the previously described buckets-based approach, with a small variation—the remainder range is not partitioned into GCD subranges, but instead a modulo GCD value is used. That is, low-order bits of rnd are used instead of the high-order bits.

template <typename> struct traits;

template <> struct traits<unsigned>
{ static const unsigned max_value = UINT_MAX; };

template <> struct traits<int>
{ static const int max_value = INT_MAX; };

Listing Three

template <uintmax_t a, uintmax_t b> struct gcd
{ static const uintmax_t value = gcd<b, a%b>::value; };
template <uintmax_t a> struct gcd<a, 0>
{ static const uintmax_t value = a; };

Listing Four

namespace random_dispatch
   enum dispatch_t
     NO_LOOP,    // rem == 0
     RETRY_SAME, // gcd == 1
     REDUCE_MAX  // gcd != 1
template <typename value_t, value_t max>
struct random_traits
   static const value_t M   = traits<value_t>::max_value;
   static const value_t rem = (M - (max - 1)) % max;
   static const value_t last = M - rem;
   static const value_t gcd  = gcd<max,rem>::value;
   static const random_dispatch::dispatch_t dispatch =
      rem == 0 ? random_dispatch::NO_LOOP
      : (gcd == 1 ? random_dispatch::RETRY_SAME
         : random_dispatch::REDUCE_MAX);
Listing Five

class SmartRange : public Random
   SmartRange(value_t seed) : Random(seed) { }
   using Random::next;
   template <value_t max> value_t next()
   { return detail::SmartRange::Dispatch<max>::next(*this); }
namespace detail { namespace SmartRange
   template <Random::value_t max,
      random_dispatch::dispatch_t =    
      random_traits<Random::value_t, max>::dispatch>
   class Dispatch;
Listing Six

template <Random::value_t max>
class Dispatch<max, random_dispatch::NO_LOOP>
   typedef Random::value_t value_t;
   static value_t next(Random& random)
      // rnd <- [0 .. M]
      const value_t rnd =;
      return rnd % max;
Listing Seven

template <Random::value_t max>
class Dispatch<max, random_dispatch::RETRY_SAME>
   typedef Random::value_t             value_t;
   typedef random_traits<value_t, max> random_traits;
   static value_t next(Random& random)
      value_t rnd;
      // Once rnd is in the safe range of
      // [0 .. last], return rnd % max
         // rnd <- [0 .. M]
         rnd =;
      while (rnd > random_traits::last);
      return rnd % max;
Listing Eight

template <Random::value_t max>
class Dispatch<max, random_dispatch::REDUCE_MAX>
   typedef Random::value_t value_t;
   typedef random_traits<value_t, max> random_traits;
   static value_t next(Random& random)
      // rnd <- [0 .. M]
      const value_t rnd =;

      // If rnd is in the safe range of
      // [0 .. last], return rnd % max
      if (rnd <= random_traits::last)
         return rnd % max;
      // Otherwise, we have the partial random value
      // in [last+1 .. M] range, and use it if possible
      // (this can happen only once, but it doesn't
      // matter for the implementation).
         return max/random_traits::gcd
            * ((rnd - (random_traits::last + 1))
               % random_traits::gcd)
            + Dispatch<max/random_traits::gcd>::next(random);
Listing Nine

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