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3.4 Variable Conventions

GMP functions generally have output arguments before input arguments. This notation is by analogy with the assignment operator. The BSD MP compatibility functions are exceptions, having the output arguments last.

GMP lets you use the same variable for both input and output in one call. For example, the main function for integer multiplication, mpz_mul, can be used to square x and put the result back in x with

mpz_mul (x, x, x);

Before you can assign to a GMP variable, you need to initialize it by calling one of the special initialization functions. When you’re done with a variable, you need to clear it out, using one of the functions for that purpose. Which function to use depends on the type of variable. See the chapters on integer functions, rational number functions, and floating-point functions for details.

A variable should only be initialized once, or at least cleared between each initialization. After a variable has been initialized, it may be assigned to any number of times.

For efficiency reasons, avoid excessive initializing and clearing. In general, initialize near the start of a function and clear near the end. For example,

foo (void)
  mpz_t  n;
  int    i;
  mpz_init (n);
  for (i = 1; i < 100; i++)
      mpz_mul (n, …);
      mpz_fdiv_q (n, …);
  mpz_clear (n);

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