Stride of an array

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In computer programming, the stride of an array (also referred to as increment, pitch or step size) 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.

Computer programming Process that leads from an original formulation of a computing problem to executable computer programs

Computer programming is the process of designing and building an executable computer program for accomplishing a specific computing task. Programming involves tasks such as: analysis, generating algorithms, profiling algorithms' accuracy and resource consumption, and the implementation of algorithms in a chosen programming language. The source code of a program is written in one or more languages that are intelligible to programmers, rather than machine code, which is directly executed by the central processing unit. The purpose of programming is to find a sequence of instructions that will automate the performance of a task on a computer, often for solving a given problem. The process of programming thus often requires expertise in several different subjects, including knowledge of the application domain, specialized algorithms, and formal logic.

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.

The byte is a unit of digital information that most commonly consists of eight bits. Historically, the byte was the number of bits used to encode a single character of text in a computer and for this reason it is the smallest addressable unit of memory in many computer architectures.


An array with stride of exactly the same size as the size of each of its elements is contiguous in memory. Such arrays are sometimes said to have unit stride. Unit stride arrays are sometimes more efficient than non-unit stride arrays, but non-unit stride arrays can be more efficient for 2D or multi-dimensional arrays, depending on the effects of caching and the access patterns used [ citation needed ]. This can be attributed to the principle of locality, specifically spatial locality.

A CPU cache is a hardware cache used by the central processing unit (CPU) of a computer to reduce the average cost to access data from the main memory. A cache is a smaller, faster memory, closer to a processor core, which stores copies of the data from frequently used main memory locations. Most CPUs have different independent caches, including instruction and data caches, where the data cache is usually organized as a hierarchy of more cache levels.

In computing, a memory access pattern or IO access pattern is the pattern with which a system or program reads and writes memory on secondary storage. These patterns differ in the level of locality of reference and drastically affect cache performance, and also have implications for the approach to parallelism and distribution of workload in shared memory systems. Further, cache coherency issues can affect multiprocessor performance, which means that certain memory access patterns place a ceiling on parallelism.

Reasons for non-unit stride

Arrays may have a stride larger than their elements' width in bytes in at least three cases:


Many languages (including C and C++) allow structures to be padded to better take advantage either of the word length and/or cache line size of the machine. For example:

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 embedded systems.

C++ General-purpose programming language

C++ is a general-purpose programming language created by Bjarne Stroustrup as an extension of the C programming language, or "C with Classes". The language has expanded significantly over time, and modern C++ has object-oriented, generic, and functional features in addition to facilities for low-level memory manipulation. It is almost always implemented as a compiled language, and many vendors provide C++ compilers, including the Free Software Foundation, LLVM, Microsoft, Intel, and IBM, so it is available on many platforms.

Data structure alignment refers to the way data is arranged and accessed in computer memory. It consists of three separate but related issues: data alignment, data structure padding, and packing.


In the above code snippet, myArray might well turn out to have a stride of eight bytes, rather than five (4 bytes for the int plus one for the char), if the C code were compiled for a 32-bit architecture, and the compiler had optimized (as is usually the case) for minimum processing time rather than minimum memory usage.

In computer architecture, 32-bit integers, memory addresses, or other data units are those that are 32 bits wide. Also, 32-bit CPU and ALU architectures are those that are based on registers, address buses, or data buses of that size. 32-bit microcomputers are computers in which 32-bit microprocessors are the norm.

Overlapping parallel arrays

Some languages allow arrays of structures to be treated as overlapping parallel arrays with non-unit stride:

In computing, a group of parallel arrays 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. 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.

#include<stdio.h>structMyRecord{intvalue;char*text;};/*    Print the contents of an array of ints with the given stride.    Note that size_t is the correct type, as int can overflow.*/voidprint_some_ints(constint*arr,intlength,size_tstride){inti;printf("Address\t\tValue\n");for(i=0;i<length;++i){printf("%p\t%d\n",arr,arr[0]);arr=(int*)((unsignedchar*)arr+stride);}}intmain(void){intints[100]={0};structMyRecordrecords[100]={0};print_some_ints(&ints[0],100,sizeofints[0]);print_some_ints(&records[0].value,100,sizeofrecords[0]);return0;}

This idiom is a form of type punning.

Array cross-section

Some languages like PL/I allow what is known as an array cross-section, which select certain columns or rows from a larger array. [1] :p.262 For example, if a two-dimensional array is declared as

PL/I is a procedural, imperative computer programming language developed and published by IBM. It is designed for scientific, engineering, business and system programming. It has been used by academic, commercial and industrial organizations since it was introduced in the 1960s, and is still used.

  declare some_array (12,2)fixed; 

an array of one dimension consisting only of the second column may be referenced as


Example of multidimensional array with non-unit stride

Non-unit stride is particularly useful for images. It allows for creating subimages without copying the pixel data. Java example:

publicclassGrayscaleImage{privatefinalintwidth,height,widthStride;/** Pixel data. Pixel in single row are always considered contiguous in this example. */privatefinalbyte[]pixels;/** Offset of the first pixel within pixels */privatefinalintoffset;/** Constructor for contiguous data */publicImage(intwidth,intheight,byte[]pixels){this.width=width;this.height=height;this.pixels=pixels;this.offset=0;this.widthStride=width;}/** Subsection constructor */publicImage(intwidth,intheight,byte[]pixels,intoffset,intwidthStride){this.width=width;this.height=height;this.pixels=pixels;this.offset=offset;this.widthStride=widthStride;}/** Returns a subregion of this Image as a new Image. This and the new image share        the pixels, so changes to the returned image will be reflected in this image. */publicImagecrop(intx1,inty1,intx2,inty2){returnnewImage(x2-x1,y2-y1,pixels,offset+y1*widthStride+x1,widthStride);}/** Returns pixel value at specified coordinate */publicbytegetPixelAt(intx,inty){returnpixels[offset+y*widthStride+x];}}

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  1. Hughes, Joan K (1979). PL/I Structured Programming (second ed.) . New York: John Wiley and Sons. ISBN   0-471-01908-9.