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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

Automatic data structure selection: an example and overview

The use of several levels of abstraction has proved to be very helpful in constructing and maintaining programs. When programs are designed with abstract data types such as sets and lists, programmer time can be saved by automating the process of filling in low-level implementation details. In the past, programming systems have provided only a single general purpose implementation for an abstract type. Thus the programs produced using abstract types were often inefficient in space or time. In this paper a system for automatically choosing efficient implementations for abstract types from a library of implementations is discussed. This process is discussed in detail for an example program. General issues in data structure selection are also reviewed.

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