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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

A fast algorithm for copying list structures

An algorithm is presented for copying an arbitrarily linked list structure into a block of contiguous storage locations without destroying the original list. Apart from a fixed number of program variables, no auxillary storage, such as a stack, is used. The algorithm needs no mark bits and operates in linear time. It is shown to be significantly faster than Fisher's algorithm, the fastest previous linear-time algorithm for the same problem. Its speed comes mainly from its efficient list-traversal technique, which folds the processing stack into the structure being built, and from its classification of list cells into nine types, which enables processing operations to be optimized for each type.

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