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Thursday Code Puzzler: Compute Squares

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Thursday: the week's almost over and it's time for another code puzzler. The idea is simple: solve the coding problem as efficiently as you can, in any language or framework that you find suitable.

Note: Even though there really is nothing stopping you from finding a solution to this on the internet, try to keep honest, and come up with your own answer.  It's all about the participation!

Compute  Squares 

Write a function that computes the square of a number without using *, ^, or +.

Catch up on all our previous puzzlers here


Thomas Mueller replied on Thu, 2013/05/23 - 9:51am

I have a fairly fast solution that uses division, shift, or. But I wonder if division could be avoided? Another solution is using just negation and minus, but it's much slower: O(n).

Jeff Friesen replied on Thu, 2013/05/23 - 10:15am

 I've written a Java application that uses subtraction and negation to square integers, and uses division to square floating-point values:

public class SquareDemo
   public static void main(String[] args)
      for (int i = -10; i <= 10; i++)
         System.out.printf("square %d = %d%n", i, square(i));
      for (double d = -10; d <= 10; d += 0.5)
         System.out.printf("square %f = %f%n", d, square(d));

   public static int square(int x)
      x = Math.abs(x);
      int total = 0;
      for (int i = 0; i < x; i++)
         total = total - -x;
      return total;

   public static double square(double x)
      return x/(1/x);

Frank Dietrich replied on Thu, 2013/05/23 - 6:35pm


import java.math.BigDecimal;

class SquarePuzzler {
    private static int useAPI(int i) {
        return new BigDecimal(i).pow(2).intValue();

    private static int useDIY(int i) {
        i = (i < 0 ? ~--i : i);
        int j = i;
        int x = 0;
        while(i-- != 0) {
            x -= j;
        return -x;

    public static void main(String...args) {
        int[] testValues = { 1, -1, 2, -2, 12, -12, 42, -42 };

        for (int i : testValues) {
            System.out.printf("i: %4d  API: %4d  DIY: %4d\n", i, useAPI(i), useDIY(i));

Mark Bernard replied on Fri, 2013/05/24 - 8:23am

public class SquarePuzzler {
public static void main(String args[]) {

public static int square(int x) {
return (int)square((double)x);
public static double square(double x) {
return x / (1 / x);


ravikumar donth... replied on Fri, 2013/05/31 - 7:20am

public class SquareFinder {
	public static void main(String args[]){
		String string = args[0];
		int parseInt = Integer.parseInt(string);
		int [][] nums = new int[parseInt][parseInt];
		int start=1;
		 for (int row = 0; row < nums.length ; row++ ) {
			 for (int col = 0; col < nums[row].length; col++ ) {

ravikumar donth... replied on Fri, 2013/05/31 - 7:42am in response to: ravikumar donthamsetti

performacne is low

Helge Fredriksen replied on Mon, 2013/06/03 - 2:54am in response to: Mark Bernard

Hehe, loved that one, using the resiprocal and turning it into a square. I've started out similar, but my algorithm was based on a while loop, counting a variable s upwards from x using ++ and ending when the condition

s/x == x

was true.

But it worked only on whole numbers, and it is of course rather slow compared to this one :-)

Ayurveda Yatan replied on Sat, 2013/12/07 - 10:48am

 Menopause is probably almost all effortlessly grasped because reverse method to help menarche, the beginning of the regular times.

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