Performance engineering case study: Heap construction
Authors:Jesper Bojesen, Jyrki Katajainen, and Maz Spork
Published in:ACM Journal of Experimental Algorithmics 5 (2000), Article 15, 44 pp.
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The behaviour of three methods for constructing a binary heap on a computer with a hierarchical memory is studied. The methods considered are the original one proposed by Williams [1964], in which elements are repeatedly inserted into a single heap; the improvement by Floyd [1964], in which small heaps are repeatedly merged to bigger heaps; and a recent method proposed, e. g., by Fadel et al. [1999] in which a heap is built layerwise. Both the worst-case number of instructions and that of cache misses are analysed. It is well-known that Floyd’s method has the best instruction count. Let N denote the size of the heap to be constructed, B the number of elements that fit into a cache line, and let c and d be some positive constants. Our analysis shows that, under reasonable assumptions, repeated insertion and layerwise construction both incur at most c N / B cache misses, whereas repeated merging, as programmed by Floyd, can incur more than (d N log2 B) / B cache misses. However, for our memory-tuned versions of repeated insertion and repeated merging the number of cache misses incurred is close to the optimal bound N / B. In addition to these theoretical findings, we communicate many practical experiences which we hope to be valuable for others doing experimental algorithmic work.

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  author = {Jesper Bojesen and Jyrki Katajainen and Maz Spork},
  title = {Performance engineering case study: {H}eap construction},
  journaltitle = {ACM Journal of Experimental Algorithmics},
  volume = {5},
  year = {2000},
  articleno = {15},
  pagetotal = {44},
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