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Fastest way to determine if an integer's square root is an integer

I figured out a method that works ~35% faster than your 6bits+Carmack+sqrt code, at least with my CPU (x86) and programming language (C/C++). Your results may vary, especially because I don't know how the Java factor will play out.

My approach is threefold:

  1. First, filter out obvious answers. This includes negative numbers and looking at the last 4 bits. (I found looking at the last six didn't help.) I also answer yes for 0. (In reading the code below, note that my input is int64 x.)
    if( x < 0 || (x&2) || ((x & 7) == 5) || ((x & 11) == 8) )
        return false;
    if( x == 0 )
        return true;
  2. Next, check if it's a square modulo 255 = 3 * 5 * 17. Because that's a product of three distinct primes, only about 1/8 of the residues mod 255 are squares. However, in my experience, calling the modulo operator (%) costs more than the benefit one gets, so I use bit tricks involving 255 = 2^8-1 to compute the residue. (For better or worse, I am not using the trick of reading individual bytes out of a word, only bitwise-and and shifts.)
    int64 y = x;
    y = (y & 4294967295LL) + (y >> 32); 
    y = (y & 65535) + (y >> 16);
    y = (y & 255) + ((y >> 8) & 255) + (y >> 16);
    // At this point, y is between 0 and 511.  More code can reduce it farther.
    
    To actually check if the residue is a square, I look up the answer in a precomputed table.
    if( bad255[y] )
        return false;
    // However, I just use a table of size 512
    
  3. Finally, try to compute the square root using a method similar to Hensel's lemma. (I don't think it's applicable directly, but it works with some modifications.) Before doing that, I divide out all powers of 2 with a binary search:
    if((x & 4294967295LL) == 0)
        x >>= 32;
    if((x & 65535) == 0)
        x >>= 16;
    if((x & 255) == 0)
        x >>= 8;
    if((x & 15) == 0)
        x >>= 4;
    if((x & 3) == 0)
        x >>= 2;
    At this point, for our number to be a square, it must be 1 mod 8.
    if((x & 7) != 1)
        return false;
    The basic structure of Hensel's lemma is the following. (Note: untested code; if it doesn't work, try t=2 or 8.)
    int64 t = 4, r = 1;
    t <<= 1; r += ((x - r * r) & t) >> 1;
    t <<= 1; r += ((x - r * r) & t) >> 1;
    t <<= 1; r += ((x - r * r) & t) >> 1;
    // Repeat until t is 2^33 or so.  Use a loop if you want.
    The idea is that at each iteration, you add one bit onto r, the "current" square root of x; each square root is accurate modulo a larger and larger power of 2, namely t/2. At the end, r and t/2-r will be square roots of x modulo t/2. (Note that if r is a square root of x, then so is -r. This is true even modulo numbers, but beware, modulo some numbers, things can have even more than 2 square roots; notably, this includes powers of 2.) Because our actual square root is less than 2^32, at that point we can actually just check if r or t/2-r are real square roots. In my actual code, I use the following modified loop:
    int64 r, t, z;
    r = start[(x >> 3) & 1023];
    do {
        z = x - r * r;
        if( z == 0 )
            return true;
        if( z < 0 )
            return false;
        t = z & (-z);
        r += (z & t) >> 1;
        if( r > (t >> 1) )
            r = t - r;
    } while( t <= (1LL << 33) );
    The speedup here is obtained in three ways: precomputed start value (equivalent to ~10 iterations of the loop), earlier exit of the loop, and skipping some t values. For the last part, I look at z = r - x * x, and set t to be the largest power of 2 dividing z with a bit trick. This allows me to skip t values that wouldn't have affected the value of r anyway. The precomputed start value in my case picks out the "smallest positive" square root modulo 8192.

Even if this code doesn't work faster for you, I hope you enjoy some of the ideas it contains. Complete, tested code follows, including the precomputed tables.

typedef signed long long int int64;

int start[1024] =
{1,3,1769,5,1937,1741,7,1451,479,157,9,91,945,659,1817,11,
1983,707,1321,1211,1071,13,1479,405,415,1501,1609,741,15,339,1703,203,
129,1411,873,1669,17,1715,1145,1835,351,1251,887,1573,975,19,1127,395,
1855,1981,425,453,1105,653,327,21,287,93,713,1691,1935,301,551,587,
257,1277,23,763,1903,1075,1799,1877,223,1437,1783,859,1201,621,25,779,
1727,573,471,1979,815,1293,825,363,159,1315,183,27,241,941,601,971,
385,131,919,901,273,435,647,1493,95,29,1417,805,719,1261,1177,1163,
1599,835,1367,315,1361,1933,1977,747,31,1373,1079,1637,1679,1581,1753,1355,
513,1539,1815,1531,1647,205,505,1109,33,1379,521,1627,1457,1901,1767,1547,
1471,1853,1833,1349,559,1523,967,1131,97,35,1975,795,497,1875,1191,1739,
641,1149,1385,133,529,845,1657,725,161,1309,375,37,463,1555,615,1931,
1343,445,937,1083,1617,883,185,1515,225,1443,1225,869,1423,1235,39,1973,
769,259,489,1797,1391,1485,1287,341,289,99,1271,1701,1713,915,537,1781,
1215,963,41,581,303,243,1337,1899,353,1245,329,1563,753,595,1113,1589,
897,1667,407,635,785,1971,135,43,417,1507,1929,731,207,275,1689,1397,
1087,1725,855,1851,1873,397,1607,1813,481,163,567,101,1167,45,1831,1205,
1025,1021,1303,1029,1135,1331,1017,427,545,1181,1033,933,1969,365,1255,1013,
959,317,1751,187,47,1037,455,1429,609,1571,1463,1765,1009,685,679,821,
1153,387,1897,1403,1041,691,1927,811,673,227,137,1499,49,1005,103,629,
831,1091,1449,1477,1967,1677,697,1045,737,1117,1737,667,911,1325,473,437,
1281,1795,1001,261,879,51,775,1195,801,1635,759,165,1871,1645,1049,245,
703,1597,553,955,209,1779,1849,661,865,291,841,997,1265,1965,1625,53,
1409,893,105,1925,1297,589,377,1579,929,1053,1655,1829,305,1811,1895,139,
575,189,343,709,1711,1139,1095,277,993,1699,55,1435,655,1491,1319,331,
1537,515,791,507,623,1229,1529,1963,1057,355,1545,603,1615,1171,743,523,
447,1219,1239,1723,465,499,57,107,1121,989,951,229,1521,851,167,715,
1665,1923,1687,1157,1553,1869,1415,1749,1185,1763,649,1061,561,531,409,907,
319,1469,1961,59,1455,141,1209,491,1249,419,1847,1893,399,211,985,1099,
1793,765,1513,1275,367,1587,263,1365,1313,925,247,1371,1359,109,1561,1291,
191,61,1065,1605,721,781,1735,875,1377,1827,1353,539,1777,429,1959,1483,
1921,643,617,389,1809,947,889,981,1441,483,1143,293,817,749,1383,1675,
63,1347,169,827,1199,1421,583,1259,1505,861,457,1125,143,1069,807,1867,
2047,2045,279,2043,111,307,2041,597,1569,1891,2039,1957,1103,1389,231,2037,
65,1341,727,837,977,2035,569,1643,1633,547,439,1307,2033,1709,345,1845,
1919,637,1175,379,2031,333,903,213,1697,797,1161,475,1073,2029,921,1653,
193,67,1623,1595,943,1395,1721,2027,1761,1955,1335,357,113,1747,1497,1461,
1791,771,2025,1285,145,973,249,171,1825,611,265,1189,847,1427,2023,1269,
321,1475,1577,69,1233,755,1223,1685,1889,733,1865,2021,1807,1107,1447,1077,
1663,1917,1129,1147,1775,1613,1401,555,1953,2019,631,1243,1329,787,871,885,
449,1213,681,1733,687,115,71,1301,2017,675,969,411,369,467,295,693,
1535,509,233,517,401,1843,1543,939,2015,669,1527,421,591,147,281,501,
577,195,215,699,1489,525,1081,917,1951,2013,73,1253,1551,173,857,309,
1407,899,663,1915,1519,1203,391,1323,1887,739,1673,2011,1585,493,1433,117,
705,1603,1111,965,431,1165,1863,533,1823,605,823,1179,625,813,2009,75,
1279,1789,1559,251,657,563,761,1707,1759,1949,777,347,335,1133,1511,267,
833,1085,2007,1467,1745,1805,711,149,1695,803,1719,485,1295,1453,935,459,
1151,381,1641,1413,1263,77,1913,2005,1631,541,119,1317,1841,1773,359,651,
961,323,1193,197,175,1651,441,235,1567,1885,1481,1947,881,2003,217,843,
1023,1027,745,1019,913,717,1031,1621,1503,867,1015,1115,79,1683,793,1035,
1089,1731,297,1861,2001,1011,1593,619,1439,477,585,283,1039,1363,1369,1227,
895,1661,151,645,1007,1357,121,1237,1375,1821,1911,549,1999,1043,1945,1419,
1217,957,599,571,81,371,1351,1003,1311,931,311,1381,1137,723,1575,1611,
767,253,1047,1787,1169,1997,1273,853,1247,413,1289,1883,177,403,999,1803,
1345,451,1495,1093,1839,269,199,1387,1183,1757,1207,1051,783,83,423,1995,
639,1155,1943,123,751,1459,1671,469,1119,995,393,219,1743,237,153,1909,
1473,1859,1705,1339,337,909,953,1771,1055,349,1993,613,1393,557,729,1717,
511,1533,1257,1541,1425,819,519,85,991,1693,503,1445,433,877,1305,1525,
1601,829,809,325,1583,1549,1991,1941,927,1059,1097,1819,527,1197,1881,1333,
383,125,361,891,495,179,633,299,863,285,1399,987,1487,1517,1639,1141,
1729,579,87,1989,593,1907,839,1557,799,1629,201,155,1649,1837,1063,949,
255,1283,535,773,1681,461,1785,683,735,1123,1801,677,689,1939,487,757,
1857,1987,983,443,1327,1267,313,1173,671,221,695,1509,271,1619,89,565,
127,1405,1431,1659,239,1101,1159,1067,607,1565,905,1755,1231,1299,665,373,
1985,701,1879,1221,849,627,1465,789,543,1187,1591,923,1905,979,1241,181};

bool bad255[512] =
{0,0,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,0,0,1,1,0,1,0,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,0,1,
 1,1,0,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,0,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,
 0,1,0,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,
 1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,
 1,1,1,1,1,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,
 1,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,0,1,0,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,0,1,1,
 1,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,
 1,0,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,
 0,0,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,0,0,1,1,0,1,0,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,0,1,
 1,1,0,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,0,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,
 0,1,0,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,
 1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,
 1,1,1,1,1,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,
 1,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,0,1,0,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,0,1,1,
 1,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,
 1,0,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,
 0,0};

inline bool square( int64 x ) {
    // Quickfail
    if( x < 0 || (x&2) || ((x & 7) == 5) || ((x & 11) == 8) )
        return false;
    if( x == 0 )
        return true;

    // Check mod 255 = 3 * 5 * 17, for fun
    int64 y = x;
    y = (y & 4294967295LL) + (y >> 32);
    y = (y & 65535) + (y >> 16);
    y = (y & 255) + ((y >> 8) & 255) + (y >> 16);
    if( bad255[y] )
        return false;

    // Divide out powers of 4 using binary search
    if((x & 4294967295LL) == 0)
        x >>= 32;
    if((x & 65535) == 0)
        x >>= 16;
    if((x & 255) == 0)
        x >>= 8;
    if((x & 15) == 0)
        x >>= 4;
    if((x & 3) == 0)
        x >>= 2;

    if((x & 7) != 1)
        return false;

    // Compute sqrt using something like Hensel's lemma
    int64 r, t, z;
    r = start[(x >> 3) & 1023];
    do {
        z = x - r * r;
        if( z == 0 )
            return true;
        if( z < 0 )
            return false;
        t = z & (-z);
        r += (z & t) >> 1;
        if( r > (t  >> 1) )
            r = t - r;
    } while( t <= (1LL << 33) );

    return false;
}

I'm pretty late to the party, but I hope to provide a better answer; shorter and (assuming my benchmark is correct) also much faster.

long goodMask; // 0xC840C04048404040 computed below
{
    for (int i=0; i<64; ++i) goodMask |= Long.MIN_VALUE >>> (i*i);
}

public boolean isSquare(long x) {
    // This tests if the 6 least significant bits are right.
    // Moving the to be tested bit to the highest position saves us masking.
    if (goodMask << x >= 0) return false;
    final int numberOfTrailingZeros = Long.numberOfTrailingZeros(x);
    // Each square ends with an even number of zeros.
    if ((numberOfTrailingZeros & 1) != 0) return false;
    x >>= numberOfTrailingZeros;
    // Now x is either 0 or odd.
    // In binary each odd square ends with 001.
    // Postpone the sign test until now; handle zero in the branch.
    if ((x&7) != 1 | x <= 0) return x == 0;
    // Do it in the classical way.
    // The correctness is not trivial as the conversion from long to double is lossy!
    final long tst = (long) Math.sqrt(x);
    return tst * tst == x;
}

The first test catches most non-squares quickly. It uses a 64-item table packed in a long, so there's no array access cost (indirection and bounds checks). For a uniformly random long, there's a 81.25% probability of ending here.

The second test catches all numbers having an odd number of twos in their factorization. The method Long.numberOfTrailingZeros is very fast as it gets JIT-ed into a single i86 instruction.

After dropping the trailing zeros, the third test handles numbers ending with 011, 101, or 111 in binary, which are no perfect squares. It also cares about negative numbers and also handles 0.

The final test falls back to double arithmetic. As double has only 53 bits mantissa, the conversion from long to double includes rounding for big values. Nonetheless, the test is correct (unless the proof is wrong).

Trying to incorporate the mod255 idea wasn't successful.


You'll have to do some benchmarking. The best algorithm will depend on the distribution of your inputs.

Your algorithm may be nearly optimal, but you might want to do a quick check to rule out some possibilities before calling your square root routine. For example, look at the last digit of your number in hex by doing a bit-wise "and." Perfect squares can only end in 0, 1, 4, or 9 in base 16, So for 75% of your inputs (assuming they are uniformly distributed) you can avoid a call to the square root in exchange for some very fast bit twiddling.

Kip benchmarked the following code implementing the hex trick. When testing numbers 1 through 100,000,000, this code ran twice as fast as the original.

public final static boolean isPerfectSquare(long n)
{
    if (n < 0)
        return false;

    switch((int)(n & 0xF))
    {
    case 0: case 1: case 4: case 9:
        long tst = (long)Math.sqrt(n);
        return tst*tst == n;

    default:
        return false;
    }
}

When I tested the analogous code in C++, it actually ran slower than the original. However, when I eliminated the switch statement, the hex trick once again make the code twice as fast.

int isPerfectSquare(int n)
{
    int h = n & 0xF;  // h is the last hex "digit"
    if (h > 9)
        return 0;
    // Use lazy evaluation to jump out of the if statement as soon as possible
    if (h != 2 && h != 3 && h != 5 && h != 6 && h != 7 && h != 8)
    {
        int t = (int) floor( sqrt((double) n) + 0.5 );
        return t*t == n;
    }
    return 0;
}

Eliminating the switch statement had little effect on the C# code.