Fast Sequences

Josef Svenningsson josef.svenningsson at
Tue Apr 4 18:48:17 EDT 2006

On 4/4/06, Ross Paterson <ross at> wrote:
> On Tue, Apr 04, 2006 at 09:27:56PM +0200, Josef Svenningsson wrote:
> > On 3/31/06, Ross Paterson <ross at> wrote:
> > > On Thu, Mar 30, 2006 at 04:08:23PM -0500, Jim Apple wrote:
> > > > Ok, so, let my try once more:
> > > >
> > > > Are there any operations f such that f . reverse has a worse big-O
> > > > time bound than f does alone?
> > >
> > > The big-O will be the same in all cases, but the constant factor will
> > > be a little larger, because reverse does a constant amount of work on
> > > each node, if that node is demanded.
> > >
> > This seemed very mysterious to me at first. It seemed to imply that
> > one couldn't observe the linear behaviour of reverse. In fact it
> > seemed like in any program that we could write, any call to reverse
> > would only contribute a constant amount of work. After discussing this
> > with NilsAnders Danielsson and Ulf Norell today we came up with the
> > following program:
> > index i . reverse . reverse .... reverse
> > where you compose reverse k times.
> > Now, if reverse were really constant time then it would have
> > complexity O(k) + O(log(min(i,n-i))). But when we actually try took
> > look up one element we must perform k reversals at each level in the
> > finger tree. Each reversal is a constant amount of work since we won't
> > force anything else but the thunks in path to the index we're
> > interested in. This gives that the actual complexity of the above
> > program is O(k log(min(i,n-i))). So reverse is costlier than a
> > constant factor but it still seems difficult to write a program which
> > demonstrates the claimed linearity of the reverse operation(*).
> I think that's consistent with what I said: reverse increases the
> constant factor; k reverses increase it k times.  The constant amount
> of work is at each node, not in the structure overall.  The increase is
> approximately the constant amount of work done at each node.  index i
> visits O(log(min(i,n-i))) nodes, forcing each of the k reverses on each
> of those nodes.
Oh, I didn't mean to suggest that what you said was wrong. What I was
trying to say was that I initially misinterpreted your statement and
thought that it implied that reverse was a constant time operation.
Our analysis is indeed consistent with what you said. And I'm happy to
hear that you agree with our reasoning.

All the best,


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