I figured out a method that works ~35% faster than your 6bits+Carmack+sqrt code, at least with my CPU (x86) and programming language (C/C++). Your results may vary, especially because I don't know how the Java factor will play out.

My approach is threefold:

- First, filter out obvious answers. This includes negative numbers and looking at the last 4 bits. (I found looking at the last six didn't help.) I also answer yes for 0. (In reading the code below, note that my input is
`int64 x`

.)
```
if( x < 0 || (x&2) || ((x & 7) == 5) || ((x & 11) == 8) )
return false;
if( x == 0 )
return true;
```

- Next, check if it's a square modulo 255 = 3 * 5 * 17. Because that's a product of three distinct primes, only about 1/8 of the residues mod 255 are squares. However, in my experience, calling the modulo operator (%) costs more than the benefit one gets, so I use bit tricks involving 255 = 2^8-1 to compute the residue. (For better or worse, I am not using the trick of reading individual bytes out of a word, only bitwise-and and shifts.)
```
int64 y = x;
y = (y & 4294967295LL) + (y >> 32);
y = (y & 65535) + (y >> 16);
y = (y & 255) + ((y >> 8) & 255) + (y >> 16);
// At this point, y is between 0 and 511. More code can reduce it farther.
```

To actually check if the residue is a square, I look up the answer in a precomputed table.
```
if( bad255[y] )
return false;
// However, I just use a table of size 512
```

- Finally, try to compute the square root using a method similar to Hensel's lemma. (I don't think it's applicable directly, but it works with some modifications.) Before doing that, I divide out all powers of 2 with a binary search:
```
if((x & 4294967295LL) == 0)
x >>= 32;
if((x & 65535) == 0)
x >>= 16;
if((x & 255) == 0)
x >>= 8;
if((x & 15) == 0)
x >>= 4;
if((x & 3) == 0)
x >>= 2;
```

At this point, for our number to be a square, it must be 1 mod 8.
```
if((x & 7) != 1)
return false;
```

The basic structure of Hensel's lemma is the following. (Note: untested code; if it doesn't work, try t=2 or 8.)
```
int64 t = 4, r = 1;
t <<= 1; r += ((x - r * r) & t) >> 1;
t <<= 1; r += ((x - r * r) & t) >> 1;
t <<= 1; r += ((x - r * r) & t) >> 1;
// Repeat until t is 2^33 or so. Use a loop if you want.
```

The idea is that at each iteration, you add one bit onto r, the "current" square root of x; each square root is accurate modulo a larger and larger power of 2, namely t/2. At the end, r and t/2-r will be square roots of x modulo t/2. (Note that if r is a square root of x, then so is -r. This is true even modulo numbers, but beware, modulo some numbers, things can have even more than 2 square roots; notably, this includes powers of 2.) Because our actual square root is less than 2^32, at that point we can actually just check if r or t/2-r are real square roots. In my actual code, I use the following modified loop:
```
int64 r, t, z;
r = start[(x >> 3) & 1023];
do {
z = x - r * r;
if( z == 0 )
return true;
if( z < 0 )
return false;
t = z & (-z);
r += (z & t) >> 1;
if( r > (t >> 1) )
r = t - r;
} while( t <= (1LL << 33) );
```

The speedup here is obtained in three ways: precomputed start value (equivalent to ~10 iterations of the loop), earlier exit of the loop, and skipping some t values. For the last part, I look at `z = r - x * x`

, and set t to be the largest power of 2 dividing z with a bit trick. This allows me to skip t values that wouldn't have affected the value of r anyway. The precomputed start value in my case picks out the "smallest positive" square root modulo 8192.

Even if this code doesn't work faster for you, I hope you enjoy some of the ideas it contains. Complete, tested code follows, including the precomputed tables.

```
typedef signed long long int int64;
int start[1024] =
{1,3,1769,5,1937,1741,7,1451,479,157,9,91,945,659,1817,11,
1983,707,1321,1211,1071,13,1479,405,415,1501,1609,741,15,339,1703,203,
129,1411,873,1669,17,1715,1145,1835,351,1251,887,1573,975,19,1127,395,
1855,1981,425,453,1105,653,327,21,287,93,713,1691,1935,301,551,587,
257,1277,23,763,1903,1075,1799,1877,223,1437,1783,859,1201,621,25,779,
1727,573,471,1979,815,1293,825,363,159,1315,183,27,241,941,601,971,
385,131,919,901,273,435,647,1493,95,29,1417,805,719,1261,1177,1163,
1599,835,1367,315,1361,1933,1977,747,31,1373,1079,1637,1679,1581,1753,1355,
513,1539,1815,1531,1647,205,505,1109,33,1379,521,1627,1457,1901,1767,1547,
1471,1853,1833,1349,559,1523,967,1131,97,35,1975,795,497,1875,1191,1739,
641,1149,1385,133,529,845,1657,725,161,1309,375,37,463,1555,615,1931,
1343,445,937,1083,1617,883,185,1515,225,1443,1225,869,1423,1235,39,1973,
769,259,489,1797,1391,1485,1287,341,289,99,1271,1701,1713,915,537,1781,
1215,963,41,581,303,243,1337,1899,353,1245,329,1563,753,595,1113,1589,
897,1667,407,635,785,1971,135,43,417,1507,1929,731,207,275,1689,1397,
1087,1725,855,1851,1873,397,1607,1813,481,163,567,101,1167,45,1831,1205,
1025,1021,1303,1029,1135,1331,1017,427,545,1181,1033,933,1969,365,1255,1013,
959,317,1751,187,47,1037,455,1429,609,1571,1463,1765,1009,685,679,821,
1153,387,1897,1403,1041,691,1927,811,673,227,137,1499,49,1005,103,629,
831,1091,1449,1477,1967,1677,697,1045,737,1117,1737,667,911,1325,473,437,
1281,1795,1001,261,879,51,775,1195,801,1635,759,165,1871,1645,1049,245,
703,1597,553,955,209,1779,1849,661,865,291,841,997,1265,1965,1625,53,
1409,893,105,1925,1297,589,377,1579,929,1053,1655,1829,305,1811,1895,139,
575,189,343,709,1711,1139,1095,277,993,1699,55,1435,655,1491,1319,331,
1537,515,791,507,623,1229,1529,1963,1057,355,1545,603,1615,1171,743,523,
447,1219,1239,1723,465,499,57,107,1121,989,951,229,1521,851,167,715,
1665,1923,1687,1157,1553,1869,1415,1749,1185,1763,649,1061,561,531,409,907,
319,1469,1961,59,1455,141,1209,491,1249,419,1847,1893,399,211,985,1099,
1793,765,1513,1275,367,1587,263,1365,1313,925,247,1371,1359,109,1561,1291,
191,61,1065,1605,721,781,1735,875,1377,1827,1353,539,1777,429,1959,1483,
1921,643,617,389,1809,947,889,981,1441,483,1143,293,817,749,1383,1675,
63,1347,169,827,1199,1421,583,1259,1505,861,457,1125,143,1069,807,1867,
2047,2045,279,2043,111,307,2041,597,1569,1891,2039,1957,1103,1389,231,2037,
65,1341,727,837,977,2035,569,1643,1633,547,439,1307,2033,1709,345,1845,
1919,637,1175,379,2031,333,903,213,1697,797,1161,475,1073,2029,921,1653,
193,67,1623,1595,943,1395,1721,2027,1761,1955,1335,357,113,1747,1497,1461,
1791,771,2025,1285,145,973,249,171,1825,611,265,1189,847,1427,2023,1269,
321,1475,1577,69,1233,755,1223,1685,1889,733,1865,2021,1807,1107,1447,1077,
1663,1917,1129,1147,1775,1613,1401,555,1953,2019,631,1243,1329,787,871,885,
449,1213,681,1733,687,115,71,1301,2017,675,969,411,369,467,295,693,
1535,509,233,517,401,1843,1543,939,2015,669,1527,421,591,147,281,501,
577,195,215,699,1489,525,1081,917,1951,2013,73,1253,1551,173,857,309,
1407,899,663,1915,1519,1203,391,1323,1887,739,1673,2011,1585,493,1433,117,
705,1603,1111,965,431,1165,1863,533,1823,605,823,1179,625,813,2009,75,
1279,1789,1559,251,657,563,761,1707,1759,1949,777,347,335,1133,1511,267,
833,1085,2007,1467,1745,1805,711,149,1695,803,1719,485,1295,1453,935,459,
1151,381,1641,1413,1263,77,1913,2005,1631,541,119,1317,1841,1773,359,651,
961,323,1193,197,175,1651,441,235,1567,1885,1481,1947,881,2003,217,843,
1023,1027,745,1019,913,717,1031,1621,1503,867,1015,1115,79,1683,793,1035,
1089,1731,297,1861,2001,1011,1593,619,1439,477,585,283,1039,1363,1369,1227,
895,1661,151,645,1007,1357,121,1237,1375,1821,1911,549,1999,1043,1945,1419,
1217,957,599,571,81,371,1351,1003,1311,931,311,1381,1137,723,1575,1611,
767,253,1047,1787,1169,1997,1273,853,1247,413,1289,1883,177,403,999,1803,
1345,451,1495,1093,1839,269,199,1387,1183,1757,1207,1051,783,83,423,1995,
639,1155,1943,123,751,1459,1671,469,1119,995,393,219,1743,237,153,1909,
1473,1859,1705,1339,337,909,953,1771,1055,349,1993,613,1393,557,729,1717,
511,1533,1257,1541,1425,819,519,85,991,1693,503,1445,433,877,1305,1525,
1601,829,809,325,1583,1549,1991,1941,927,1059,1097,1819,527,1197,1881,1333,
383,125,361,891,495,179,633,299,863,285,1399,987,1487,1517,1639,1141,
1729,579,87,1989,593,1907,839,1557,799,1629,201,155,1649,1837,1063,949,
255,1283,535,773,1681,461,1785,683,735,1123,1801,677,689,1939,487,757,
1857,1987,983,443,1327,1267,313,1173,671,221,695,1509,271,1619,89,565,
127,1405,1431,1659,239,1101,1159,1067,607,1565,905,1755,1231,1299,665,373,
1985,701,1879,1221,849,627,1465,789,543,1187,1591,923,1905,979,1241,181};
bool bad255[512] =
{0,0,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,0,0,1,1,0,1,0,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,0,1,
1,1,0,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,0,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,
0,1,0,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,
1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,
1,1,1,1,1,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,
1,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,0,1,0,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,0,1,1,
1,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,
1,0,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,
0,0,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,0,0,1,1,0,1,0,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,0,1,
1,1,0,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,0,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,
0,1,0,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,
1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,
1,1,1,1,1,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,
1,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,0,1,0,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,0,1,1,
1,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,0,0,1,1,1,
1,0,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,0,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,
0,0};
inline bool square( int64 x ) {
// Quickfail
if( x < 0 || (x&2) || ((x & 7) == 5) || ((x & 11) == 8) )
return false;
if( x == 0 )
return true;
// Check mod 255 = 3 * 5 * 17, for fun
int64 y = x;
y = (y & 4294967295LL) + (y >> 32);
y = (y & 65535) + (y >> 16);
y = (y & 255) + ((y >> 8) & 255) + (y >> 16);
if( bad255[y] )
return false;
// Divide out powers of 4 using binary search
if((x & 4294967295LL) == 0)
x >>= 32;
if((x & 65535) == 0)
x >>= 16;
if((x & 255) == 0)
x >>= 8;
if((x & 15) == 0)
x >>= 4;
if((x & 3) == 0)
x >>= 2;
if((x & 7) != 1)
return false;
// Compute sqrt using something like Hensel's lemma
int64 r, t, z;
r = start[(x >> 3) & 1023];
do {
z = x - r * r;
if( z == 0 )
return true;
if( z < 0 )
return false;
t = z & (-z);
r += (z & t) >> 1;
if( r > (t >> 1) )
r = t - r;
} while( t <= (1LL << 33) );
return false;
}
```

## Best Solution

As always with these questions, the JLS holds the answer. In this case §15.26.2 Compound Assignment Operators. An extract:

An example cited from §15.26.2

In other words, your assumption is correct.