www.delorie.com/gnu/docs/avl/libavl_28.html   search  
 
Buy GNU books!


GNU libavl 2.0.1

[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ]

4.4 Sequential Search of Ordered Array with Sentinel

When we implemented sequential search in a sorted array, we lost the benefits of having a sentinel. But we can reintroduce a sentinel in the same way we did before, and obtain some of the same benefits. It's pretty clear how to proceed:

 
/* Returns the smallest i such that array[i] == key, 
or -1 if key is not in array[]. array[] must be an modifiable array of n ints,
sorted in ascending order, with room for a (n + 1)th element at the end. */ int
seq_sorted_sentinel_search (int array[], int n, int key)
{ int *p; array[n] = key; for (p = array; *p < key; p++) /* Nothing to do. */; return p - array < n && *p == key ? p - array : -1; }
This code is included in @refalso{600

With a bit of additional cleverness we can eliminate one objection to this sentinel approach. Suppose that instead of using the value being searched for as the sentinel value, we used the maximum possible value for the type in question. If we did this, then we could use almost the same code for searching the array.

The advantage of this approach is that there would be no need to modify the array in order to search for different values, because the sentinel is the same value for all searches. This eliminates the potential problem of searching an array in multiple contexts, due to nested searches, threads, or signals, for instance. (In the code below, we will still put the sentinel into the array, because our generic test program won't know to put it in for us in advance, but in real-world code we could avoid the assignment.)

We can easily write code for implementation of this technique:

 
/* Returns the smallest i such that array[i] == key, 
or -1 if key is not in array[]. array[] must be an array of n ints,
sorted in ascending order, with room for an (n + 1)th element to set to INT_MAX. */ int
seq_sorted_sentinel_search_2 (int array[], int n, int key)
{ int *p; array[n] = INT_MAX; for (p = array; *p < key; p++) /* Nothing to do. */; return p - array < n && *p == key ? p - array : -1; }
This code is included in @refalso{600

Exercises:

1. When can't the largest possible value for the type be used as a sentinel? [answer]


[ < ] [ > ]   [ << ] [ Up ] [ >> ]         [Top] [Contents] [Index] [ ? ]

  webmaster   donations   bookstore     delorie software   privacy  
  Copyright 2003   by The Free Software Foundation     Updated Jun 2003