Duff's Device N. The Most Dramatic Use Yet Seen Of Fall Through In C

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Duff's device n.

The most dramatic use yet seen of fall through in C, invented by Tom Duff when he was at L
Trying to bum all the instructions he could out of an inner
loop that copied data serially onto an output port, he decided to
unroll it. He then realized that the unrolled version could be
implemented by interlacing the structures of a switch and a

register n = (count + 7) / 8; /* count > 0 assumed */

switch (count % 8)
case 0: do { *to = *from++;
case 7: *to = *from++;
case 6: *to = *from++;
case 5: *to = *from++;
case 4: *to = *from++;
case 3: *to = *from++;
case 2: *to = *from++;
case 1: *to = *from++;
} while (--n > 0);

Shocking though it appears to all who encounter it for the first
time, the device is actually perfectly valid, legal C. C's default
fall through in case statements has long been its most
controversial single feature; Duff observed that "This code forms
some sort of argument in that debate, but I'm not sure whether it's
for or against." Duff has discussed the device in detail at
http://www.lysator.liu.se/c/duffs-device.html. Note
that the omission of postfix ++ from *to was
intentional (though confusing). Duff's device can be used to
implement memory copy, but the original aim was to copy values
serially into a magic IO register.

[For maximal obscurity, the outermost pair of braces above could be
actually be removed -- GLS]