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Measure execution time of a function in C++

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We can find out the time taken by different parts of a program by using the std::chrono library introduced in C++ 11. We have discussed at How to measure time taken by a program in C. The functions described there are supported in C++ too but they are C specific. For clean and robust C++ programs we should strive to use C++ specific language constructs only.
std::chrono has two distinct objects–timepoint and duration. A timepoint as the name suggests represents a point in time whereas a duration represents an interval or span of time. The C++ library allows us to subtract two timepoints to get the interval of time passed in between. Using provided methods we can also convert this duration to appropriate units.
The std::chrono provides us with three clocks with varying accuracy. The high_resolution_clock is the most accurate and hence it is used to measure execution time.
Step 1: Get the timepoint before the function is called


#include <chrono>
using namespace std::chrono;
// Use auto keyword to avoid typing long
// type definitions to get the timepoint
// at this instant use function now()
auto start = high_resolution_clock::now();


Step 2: Get the timepoint after the function is called 


#include <chrono>
using namespace std::chrono;
// After function call
auto stop = high_resolution_clock::now();


Step 3: Get the difference in timepoints and cast it to required units 


// Subtract stop and start timepoints and
// cast it to required unit. Predefined units
// are nanoseconds, microseconds, milliseconds,
// seconds, minutes, hours. Use duration_cast()
// function.
auto duration = duration_cast<microseconds>(stop - start);
// To get the value of duration use the count()
// member function on the duration object
cout << duration.count() << endl;


A complete C++ program demonstrating the procedure is given below. We fill up a vector with some random numbers and measure the time taken by sort() function to sort this vector.


// C++ program to find out execution time of
// of functions
#include <algorithm>
#include <chrono>
#include <iostream>
using namespace std;
using namespace std::chrono;
// For demonstration purpose, we will fill up
// a vector with random integers and then sort
// them using sort function. We fill record
// and print the time required by sort function
int main()
    vector<int> values(10000);
    // Generate Random values
    auto f = []() -> int { return rand() % 10000; };
    // Fill up the vector
    generate(values.begin(), values.end(), f);
    // Get starting timepoint
    auto start = high_resolution_clock::now();
    // Call the function, here sort()
    sort(values.begin(), values.end());
    // Get ending timepoint
    auto stop = high_resolution_clock::now();
    // Get duration. Substart timepoints to
    // get duration. To cast it to proper unit
    // use duration cast method
    auto duration = duration_cast<microseconds>(stop - start);
    cout << "Time taken by function: "
         << duration.count() << " microseconds" << endl;
    return 0;


Output: (Machine Dependent) 

Time taken by function: 3062 microseconds

The time complexity of the sort() function is O(n log n), where n is the number of elements in the vector. Therefore, the time complexity of this program is also O(n log n), since it measures the execution time of the sort() function. 

The space complexity of this program is O(n), since it creates a vector of size n to store the random integers.


Last Updated : 03 May, 2023
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