Parallel array

Last updated

In computing, a group of parallel arrays (also known as structure of arrays or SoA) is a form of implicit data structure that uses multiple arrays to represent a singular array of records. It keeps a separate, homogeneous data array for each field of the record, each having the same number of elements. Then, objects located at the same index in each array are implicitly the fields of a single record. Pointers from one object to another are replaced by array indices. This contrasts with the normal approach of storing all fields of each record together in memory (also known as array of structures or AoS). For example, one might declare an array of 100 names, each a string, and 100 ages, each an integer, associating each name with the age that has the same index.

Contents

Examples

An example in C using parallel arrays:

intages[]={0,17,2,52,25};char*names[]={"None","Mike","Billy","Tom","Stan"};intparent[]={0/*None*/,3/*Tom*/,1/*Mike*/,0/*None*/,3/*Tom*/};for(i=1;i<=4;i++){printf("Name: %s, Age: %d, Parent: %s \n",names[i],ages[i],names[parent[i]]);}

in Perl (using a hash of arrays to hold references to each array):

my%data=(first_name=>['Joe','Bob','Frank','Hans'],last_name=>['Smith','Seger','Sinatra','Schultze'],height_in_cm=>[169,158,201,199]);for$i(0..$#{$data{first_name}}){printf"Name: %s %s\n",$data{first_name}[$i],$data{last_name}[$i];printf"Height in CM: %i\n",$data{height_in_cm}[$i];}

Or, in Python:

first_names=['Joe','Bob','Frank','Hans']last_names=['Smith','Seger','Sinatra','Schultze']heights_in_cm=[169,158,201,199]foriinrange(len(first_names)):print("Name: %s%s"%(first_names[i],last_names[i]))print("Height in CM: %s"%heights_in_cm[i])# Using zip:forfirst_name,last_name,height_in_cminzip(first_names,last_names,heights_in_cm):print(f"Name: {first_name}{last_name}")print(f"Height in CM: {height_in_cm}")

Pros and cons

Parallel arrays have a number of practical advantages over the normal approach:

Several of these advantage depend strongly on the particular programming language and implementation in use.

However, parallel arrays also have several strong disadvantages, which serves to explain why they are not generally preferred:

The bad locality of reference can be alleviated in some cases: if a structure can be divided into groups of fields that are generally accessed together, an array can be constructed for each group, and its elements are records containing only these subsets of the larger structure's fields. (see data oriented design). This is a valuable way of speeding up access to very large structures with many members, while keeping the portions of the structure tied together. An alternative to tying them together using array indexes is to use references to tie the portions together, but this can be less efficient in time and space.

Another alternative is to use a single array, where each entry is a record structure. Many language provide a way to declare actual records, and arrays of them. In other languages it may be feasible to simulate this by declaring an array of n*m size, where m is the size of all the fields together, packing the fields into what is effectively a record, even though the particular language lacks direct support for records. Some compiler optimizations, particularly for vector processors, are able to perform this transformation automatically when arrays of structures are created in the program.[ citation needed ]

See also

Related Research Articles

In computer science, an array data structure, or simply an array, is a data structure consisting of a collection of elements, each identified by at least one array index or key. An array is stored such that the position of each element can be computed from its index tuple by a mathematical formula. The simplest type of data structure is a linear array, also called one-dimensional array.

C (programming language) general-purpose programming language

C is a general-purpose, procedural computer programming language supporting structured programming, lexical variable scope, and recursion, while a static type system prevents unintended operations. By design, C provides constructs that map efficiently to typical machine instructions and has found lasting use in applications previously coded in assembly language. Such applications include operating systems and various application software for computers, from supercomputers to PLCs and embedded systems.

In computer science, a linked list is a linear collection of data elements, whose order is not given by their physical placement in memory. Instead, each element points to the next. It is a data structure consisting of a collection of nodes which together represent a sequence. In its most basic form, each node contains: data, and a reference to the next node in the sequence. This structure allows for efficient insertion or removal of elements from any position in the sequence during iteration. More complex variants add additional links, allowing more efficient insertion or removal of nodes at arbitrary positions. A drawback of linked lists is that access time is linear. Faster access, such as random access, is not feasible. Arrays have better cache locality compared to linked lists.

In computer programming, a dope vector is a data structure used to hold information about a data object, especially its memory layout.

In computer programming, the stride of an array is the number of locations in memory between beginnings of successive array elements, measured in bytes or in units of the size of the array's elements. The stride cannot be smaller than the element size but can be larger, indicating extra space between elements.

The syntax of the C programming language is the set of rules governing writing of software in the language. It is designed to allow for programs that are extremely terse, have a close relationship with the resulting object code, and yet provide relatively high-level data abstraction. C was the first widely successful high-level language for portable operating-system development.

Pointer (computer programming) programming language data type

In computer science, a pointer is a programming language object that stores a memory address. This can be that of another value located in computer memory, or in some cases, that of memory mapped computer hardware. A pointer references a location in memory, and obtaining the value stored at that location is known as dereferencing the pointer. As an analogy, a page number in a book's index could be considered a pointer to the corresponding page; dereferencing such a pointer would be done by flipping to the page with the given page number and reading the text found on that page. The actual format and content of a pointer variable is dependent on the underlying computer architecture.

In computer science, a union is a value that may have any of several representations or formats within the same position in memory; that consists of a variable that may hold such a data structure. Some programming languages support special data types, called union types, to describe such values and variables. In other words, a union type definition will specify which of a number of permitted primitive types may be stored in its instances, e.g., "float or long integer". In contrast with a record, which could be defined to contain a float and an integer; in a union, there is only one value at any given time.

In computing, aliasing describes a situation in which a data location in memory can be accessed through different symbolic names in the program. Thus, modifying the data through one name implicitly modifies the values associated with all aliased names, which may not be expected by the programmer. As a result, aliasing makes it particularly difficult to understand, analyze and optimize programs. Aliasing analysers intend to make and compute useful information for understanding aliasing in programs.

A struct in the C programming language is a composite data type declaration that defines a physically grouped list of variables under one name in a block of memory, allowing the different variables to be accessed via a single pointer or by the struct declared name which returns the same address. The struct data type can contain other data types so is used for mixed-data-type records such as a hard-drive directory entry, or other mixed-type records.

Loop unrolling, also known as loop unwinding, is a loop transformation technique that attempts to optimize a program's execution speed at the expense of its binary size, which is an approach known as space–time tradeoff. The transformation can be undertaken manually by the programmer or by an optimizing compiler.

The computer programming languages C and Pascal have similar times of origin, influences, and purposes. Both were used to design their own compilers early in their lifetimes. The original Pascal definition appeared in 1969 and a first compiler in 1970. The first version of C appeared in 1972.

In the C programming language, data types constitute the semantics and characteristics of storage of data elements. They are expressed in the language syntax in form of declarations for memory locations or variables. Data types also determine the types of operations or methods of processing of data elements.

A class in C++ is a user-defined type or data structure declared with keyword class that has data and functions as its members whose access is governed by the three access specifiers private, protected or public. By default access to members of a C++ class is private. The private members are not accessible outside the class; they can be accessed only through methods of the class. The public members form an interface to the class and are accessible outside the class.

In the programming languages C and C++, the unary operator sizeof generates the size of an expression or a data type, measured in the number of char-sized storage units required for the type. Consequently, the construct sizeof (char) is guaranteed to be 1. The actual number of bits of type char is specified by the preprocessor macro CHAR_BIT, defined in the standard include file limits.h. On most modern systems this is eight bits. The result of sizeof has an unsigned integral type that is usually denoted by size_t.

In computer programming, a branch table or jump table is a method of transferring program control (branching) to another part of a program using a table of branch or jump instructions. It is a form of multiway branch. The branch table construction is commonly used when programming in assembly language but may also be generated by compilers, especially when implementing optimized switch statements whose values are densely packed together.

In computer science, type punning is a common term for any programming technique that subverts or circumvents the type system of a programming language in order to achieve an effect that would be difficult or impossible to achieve within the bounds of the formal language.

PROMELA is a verification modeling language introduced by Gerard J. Holzmann. The language allows for the dynamic creation of concurrent processes to model, for example, distributed systems. In PROMELA models, communication via message channels can be defined to be synchronous, or asynchronous. PROMELA models can be analyzed with the SPIN model checker, to verify that the modeled system produces the desired behavior. An implementation verified with Isabelle/HOL is also available, as part of the Computer Aided Verification of Automata project. Files written in Promela traditionally have a .pml file extension.

In computer science, an array type is a data type that represents a collection of elements, each selected by one or more indices that can be computed at run time during program execution. Such a collection is usually called an array variable, array value, or simply array. By analogy with the mathematical concepts vector and matrix, array types with one and two indices are often called vector type and matrix type, respectively.

The computer programming languages C and Object Pascal have similar times of origin, influences, and purposes. Both were used to design their own compilers early in their lifetimes.

References