© 2017

Low-Level Programming

C, Assembly, and Program Execution on Intel® 64 Architecture


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxvi
  2. Assembly Language and Computer Architecture

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Igor Zhirkov
      Pages 3-16
    3. Igor Zhirkov
      Pages 17-38
    4. Igor Zhirkov
      Pages 39-46
    5. Igor Zhirkov
      Pages 47-61
    6. Igor Zhirkov
      Pages 63-90
    7. Igor Zhirkov
      Pages 91-100
    8. Igor Zhirkov
      Pages 101-126
  3. The C Programming Language

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 127-127
    2. Igor Zhirkov
      Pages 129-146
    3. Igor Zhirkov
      Pages 147-180
    4. Igor Zhirkov
      Pages 181-200
    5. Igor Zhirkov
      Pages 201-220
    6. Igor Zhirkov
      Pages 221-240
    7. Igor Zhirkov
      Pages 241-262
  4. Between C and Assembly

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 263-263
    2. Igor Zhirkov
      Pages 265-289
    3. Igor Zhirkov
      Pages 291-325
    4. Igor Zhirkov
      Pages 327-355

About this book


Learn Intel 64 assembly language and architecture, become proficient in C, and understand how the programs are compiled and executed down to machine instructions, enabling you to write robust, high-performance code.

Low-Level Programming explains Intel 64 architecture as the result of von Neumann architecture evolution.  The book teaches the latest version of the C language (C11) and assembly language from scratch.  It covers the entire path from source code to program execution, including generation of ELF object files, and static and dynamic linking. Code examples and exercises are included along with the best code practices. Optimization capabilities and limits of modern compilers are examined, enabling you to balance between program readability and performance. The use of various performance-gain techniques is demonstrated, such as SSE instructions and pre-fetching. Relevant Computer Science topics such as models of computation and formal grammars are addressed, and their practical value explained.

Low-Level Programming teaches programmers to:

  • Freely write in assembly language
  • Understand the programming model of Intel 64
  • Write maintainable and robust code in C11
  • Follow the compilation process and decipher assembly listings
  • Debug errors in compiled assembly code
  • Use appropriate models of computation to greatly reduce program complexity
  • Write performance-critical code
  • Comprehend the impact of a weak memory model in multi-threaded applications


von Neumann architecture protection rings procedure calling sequences endianness RISC compilation cycle finite automatons Forth compiler nonstrict dynamic typing polymorphism in C function pointers string literals BMP format calling conventions memory allocator stack overflow stack frames stack guard return value optimization debugging with gdb

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Saint PetersburgRussia

About the authors

Igor Zhirkov teaches his highly successful “System Programming Languages” course at ITMO University in Saint Petersburg. He studied at Saint Petersburg Academic University and received his master degree from ITMO University. Currently, he is doing research in verified C refactorings as part of his PhD thesis and formalization of Bulk Synchronous Parallelism library in C at IMT Atlantique in Nantes, France. His main interests are low-level programming, programming language theory, and type theory.

Bibliographic information

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