The cost of cache-oblivious searching

Michael A. Bender, Gerth Stølting Brodal, Rolf Fagerberg, Dongdong Ge, Simai He, Haodong Hu, John Iacono, Alejandro López-Ortiz

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This paper gives tight bounds on the cost of cache-oblivious searching. The paper shows that no cache-oblivious search structure can guarantee a search performance of fewer than lg∈elog∈ B N memory transfers between any two levels of the memory hierarchy. This lower bound holds even if all of the block sizes are limited to be powers of 2. The paper gives modified versions of the van Emde Boas layout, where the expected number of memory transfers between any two levels of the memory hierarchy is arbitrarily close to [lg∈e+O(lg∈lg∈B/lg∈B)]log∈ B N+O(1). This factor approaches lg∈e≈1.443 as B increases. The expectation is taken over the random placement in memory of the first element of the structure. Because searching in the disk-access machine (DAM) model can be performed in log∈ B N+O(1) block transfers, this result establishes a separation between the (2-level) DAM model and cache-oblivious model. The DAM model naturally extends to k levels. The paper also shows that as k grows, the search costs of the optimal k-level DAM search structure and the optimal cache-oblivious search structure rapidly converge. This result demonstrates that for a multilevel memory hierarchy, a simple cache-oblivious structure almost replicates the performance of an optimal parameterized k-level DAM structure.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)463-505
    Number of pages43
    JournalAlgorithmica (New York)
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Oct 2011


    • Cache-oblivious B-tree
    • Cache-oblivious searching
    • van Emde Boas layout

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Computer Science
    • Computer Science Applications
    • Applied Mathematics


    Dive into the research topics of 'The cost of cache-oblivious searching'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this