Radial Tree by Pumpkin-Pirate Memory Layouts for Binary Search — V2

This is a follow-up to an experiment that I started on May 8, 2015.

If you just came to help out, then skip to the bottom.

If you just came to read about the result, then you can read the paper.

Binary search is a wonderful algorithm: theoretically optimal, fast in practice, and discoverable by school children playing guessing games. Usually we think of binary search as being applied to a sorted array, and we teach it this way.

It turns out that, because of cache effects, sorted order is usually not the most efficient way to store data for searching. In this project, we study the performance of different memory layouts for binary searching:

  1. sorted: A usual sorted array with binary search applied to it.
  2. eytzinger: An implicit binary search tree packed into an array using the Eytzinger (a.k.a. BFS) layout usually seen with binary heaps.
  3. btree: An implicit B-tree packed into an array using the obvious generalization of the Eytzinger layout. The value B here is chosen so that B-1 data items fit into 64 bytes (the most common cache line width).
  4. veb: An implicit binary search tree packed into an array using the van Emde Boas layout seen in the cache-oblivious literature.
Which of these memory layouts is fastest?

The last time I asked this question, my answer was the following: The answer is complicated, and it seems to depend on the data size, the cache size, the cache line width, and the relative cache speed. Since then I've been working with Paul Khuong, and we've come to the conclusion that the answer is not really that complicated: The Eytzinger layout offers the best all-around performance over a wide range of array lengths. To understand why, you can read the paper.

Spoiler: It has to do do with hiding latency by overusing bandwidth. (Hacker News user derf_9 has a nice summary.)

Most of the data we've collected so far supports our hypothesis, but it's always nice to have more data. If you have a Linux machine and would like to contribute to this effort, then please follow the instructions below.

Help Out
If you'd like to help out, then download the code, unpack it like this:
$ tar xzvf arraylayout.tgz 
and then run it like this:
$ cd arraylayout-0.1 ; make data
If you're on a Mac, the procedure is similar:
$ cd arraylayout-0.1 ; make -f Makefile.macos data
This will create file called run_data.tgz that you can just email me. If you want to be extra helpful, you can also run:
sudo dmidecode --type 17
and include the output in your email. This will give me detailed information about the amount, type, and speed of memory installed in your computer, as described here.
Some Data
Here is some timing data for a variety of machines: