Defined in header <ctime>
std::clock_t clock();

Returns the approximate processor time used by the process since the beginning of an implementation-defined era related to the program's execution. To convert result value to seconds divide it by CLOCKS_PER_SEC.

Only the difference between two values returned by different calls to std::clock is meaningful, as the beginning of the std::clock era does not have to coincide with the start of the program. std::clock time may advance faster or slower than the wall clock, depending on the execution resources given to the program by the operating system. For example, if the CPU is shared by other processes, std::clock time may advance slower than wall clock. On the other hand, if the current process is multithreaded and more than one execution core is available, std::clock time may advance faster than wall clock.



Return value

Processor time used by the program so far or std::clock_t(-1) if that information is unavailable or its value cannot be represented.


Throws nothing.


On POSIX-compatible systems, clock_gettime with clock id CLOCK_PROCESS_CPUTIME_ID offers better resolution.

The value returned by clock() may wrap around on some non-conforming implementations. For example, on such an implementation, if std::clock_t is a signed 32-bit integer and CLOCKS_PER_SEC is 1000000, it will wrap after about 2147 seconds (about 36 minutes).


This example demonstrates the difference between clock() time and real time.

#include <iostream>
#include <iomanip>
#include <chrono>
#include <ctime>
#include <thread>
// the function f() does some time-consuming work
void f()
    volatile double d = 0;
    for(int n=0; n<10000; ++n)
       for(int m=0; m<10000; ++m) {
           double diff = d*n*m;
           d = diff + d;
int main()
    std::clock_t c_start = std::clock();
    auto t_start = std::chrono::high_resolution_clock::now();
    std::thread t1(f);
    std::thread t2(f); // f() is called on two threads
    std::clock_t c_end = std::clock();
    auto t_end = std::chrono::high_resolution_clock::now();
    std::cout << std::fixed << std::setprecision(2) << "CPU time used: "
              << 1000.0 * (c_end - c_start) / CLOCKS_PER_SEC << " ms\n"
              << "Wall clock time passed: "
              << std::chrono::duration<double, std::milli>(t_end-t_start).count()
              << " ms\n";

Possible output:

CPU time used: 1590.00 ms
Wall clock time passed: 808.23 ms

See also

converts a std::time_t object to a textual representation
returns the current time of the system as time since epoch
C documentation for clock

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