Implicit data structure

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In computer science, an implicit data structure is a data structure that uses very little memory besides the actual data elements; i.e., very little information other than main data is stored in these structures. These storage schemes retain no pointers, represent the file of n k-key records as a simple n by k array n, and thus retrieve much faster. In implicit data structures, the only structural information to be given is to allow the array to grow and shrink as n. No extra information is required. It is called "implicit" because most of the structure of the elements is expressed implicitly by their order. Another term used interchangeably is space efficient. Definitions of “very little” are vague and can mean from O(1) to O(log n) extra space. Everything is accessed in-place, by reading bits at various positions in the data. To achieve optimal coding, we use bits instead of bytes. Implicit data structures are frequently also succinct data structures.

Although one may argue that disk space is no longer a problem and we should not concern ourselves with improving space utilization, the issue that implicit data structures are designed to improve is main memory utilization. Hard disks, or any other means of large data capacity, I/O devices, are orders of magnitudes slower than main memory. Hence, the higher percentage of a task can fit in buffers in main memory, the less dependence on slow I/O devices. Hence, if a larger chunk of an implicit data structure fits in main memory the operations performed on it can be faster even if the asymptotic running time is not as good as its space-oblivious counterpart. Furthermore, since the CPU-cache is usually much smaller than main memory, implicit data structures can improve cache-efficiency and thus running speed, especially if the method used improves locality.

Implicit data structure for weighted element[edit]

For presentation of elements with different weights, several data structures are required. The structure uses one more location besides those required for values of elements. The first structure supports worst case search time in terms of rank of weight of elements with respect to set of weights. If the elements are drawn from uniform distribution, then variation of this structure takes average time. The same result obtains for the data structures in which the intervals between consecutive values have access probabilities.


Examples of implicit data structures include

Further reading[edit]