14Graphics and Bit Manipulation

Problems involving graphics or bit operators are less common than those we’ve looked at so far but still appear frequently enough in interviews to merit discussion. Bit manipulation problems in particular often occur early in an interview as a warm-up to more challenging problems.


A computer screen consists of pixels arranged in a Cartesian coordinate system. This is commonly called a raster pixel display. Computer graphics algorithms change the colors of sets of pixels. Modern computers—even mobile phones—include specialized hardware-based high-performance implementations of graphics algorithms that are orders of magnitude faster than what can be implemented in software on the CPU. The challenge in real-world development is how best to use the graphics hardware; it would be extremely unusual to implement any of the techniques described in the following sections. Nevertheless, you may encounter problems involving the implementation of graphics algorithms both to test your understanding of computer graphics and to examine your ability to translate mathematical concepts into working code.

Often, the algorithm to generate a raster pixel image is based on a geometric equation. Because a computer screen has a finite number of pixels, translating from a geometric equation to a pixel display can be quite complex. Geometric equations usually have real-number (floating-point) solutions, but pixels are found only at fixed, regularly spaced locations. ...

Get Programming Interviews Exposed, 4th Edition now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.