C/C++ low-level projects

Engineering schools last 3 years in France. Before these years students learn for two years a broad science curriculum covering mathematics, algo, physics, electronics… The three years of engineering cover a more specialized subject, for me it was computer science.

The first year of my engineering school, EPITA, is intensive. We learn many different subjects about low-level programming and almost weekly have hackathons the whole weekend. During the days we study the theory of computer science (language theory, compiler, graph, algo, some maths, etc.), and during the nights we code.

I’ll list in this page, only some of the projects done during the first semester.

ISO reader

In this C project I had to learn how to use mmap to read ISO files (such as a Ubuntu image). The goal was to provide a CLI tool to navigate, and read files stored in the ISO.

While it may sound obvious to me now, it was interesting to discover how the data can be stored in memory, and how simple pointer arithmetic can go a long way.


For this C project I wrote a make-like CLI tool. make is a tool to maintain program dependencies and to facilitate a program compilation.

It was interesting for both reasons:

  • Learn to parse file, the structure is simple but still harder than a csv file of course.
  • Learn all the tricks make have, and it has many.

Naive Malloc

For this C project I wrote a naive implementation of malloc. For those who don’t know, malloc is used in C program (and a lot of binaries like ls) to allocate memory.

To allocate memory, I had to map one or several pages. Those pages could be fully filled or split into several chunks. It’s enlightening to understand how a program uses the memory, and to see all the tricks to allocate it more efficiently than a simple first-fit algo.

Along side malloc, realloc, calloc, and free were obviously implemented.


I’ve also implemented:

  • Dijkstra algorithm for a real-time formula one competition. Other tricks were used as Bezier curves to produce smooth turning.
  • A bash-like in C in a group of four students, from the command line reading, to the execution with custom builtins and instructions tree building.
  • A fast implementation of a calculator in C++. It supported any base (2, 3, 10, etc.) with any ASCII characters. It was also a “big num” implementation were numbers could be bigger than a long long. Finally some interesting algos were coded like the Karatsuba multiplication.