[Haskell-cafe] Newbie question: can laziness lead to space compression?

Malcolm Wallace Malcolm.Wallace at cs.york.ac.uk
Wed Jan 2 11:32:14 EST 2008

Brian Hurt <bhurt at spnz.org> wrote:

> But I was wondering if it is possible that lazy evaluation
> could  lead to space compression, especially under heavily persistant
> usage  patterns?
> Note that the benefit isn't *big*- we're talking about 40 words of
> memory  when the main data structure is taking up 5K plus words of
> memory- so it's  less than 1% different.  But there is a (small)
> upside in memory usage at  least occassionally, right?

Actually, a lazy evaluation strategy can sometimes change the entire
complexity class of space usage, not just the constant factors.  For
instance, lazy streaming algorithms (where the data is produced and
consumed in lock-step) may use a small constant amount of memory,
independent of the size of the data, whereas an eager strategy would use
memory linearly proportional to the dataset size.


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