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# 1f18f2005 +:1+ AN Skip Lists 1

Skip Lists
+! "!
!
0
!
1
!
2
!
3
+! "!
10 36 23 15
+! "!
15
+! "!
23 15
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What is a skip list (3.5)
Operations
Search (3.5.1)
!nsertion (3.5.2)
Deletion (3.5.2)
!mplementation
Analysis (3.5.3)
Space usage
Search and update times
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What is a Skip List
A skip list for a set ! of distinct (key, element) items is a series of
lists !
0
, !
1
, . , !
"
such that
Each list !
#
contains the special keys +! and "!
List !
0
contains the keys of ! in nondecreasing order
Each list is a subsequence of the previous one, i.e.,
!
0
#!
1
# .# !
"
List !
"
contains only the two special keys
We show how to use a skip list to implement the dictionary ADT
56 64 78
+!
31 34 44
"!
12 23 26
+! "!
+!
31
"!
64
+!
31 34
"!
23
!
0
!
1
!
2
!
3
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Search
We search for a key % in a a skip list as follows:
We start at the first position of the top list
At the current position &, we compare % with ' \$()'(*+,)-(&))
% = ': we return ).)/)0,(*+,)-(&))
% > ': we scan forward"
% < ': we drop down"
!f we try to drop down past the bottom list, we return 123!4563789
Example: search for 78
+! "!
!
0
!
1
!
2
!
3
+!
31
"!
64
+!
31 34
"!
23
56 64 78
+!
31 34 44
"!
12 23 26
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Randomized Algorithms
A randomized algorithm
performs coin tosses (i.e.,
uses random bits) to control
its execution
!t contains statements of the
type
: \$-*0;</()
!" : = 0
do A .
\$%&\$ : = 1}
do B .
!ts running time depends on
the outcomes of the coin
tosses
We analyze the expected
running time of a
randomized algorithm under
the following assumptions
the coins are unbiased, and
the coin tosses are
independent
The worst-case running time
of a randomized algorithm is
often large but has very low
probability (e.g., it occurs
when all the coin tosses give
We use a randomized
algorithm to insert items into
a skip list
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To insert an item (%, <) into a skip list, we use a randomized
algorithm:
We repeatedly toss a coin until we get tails, and we denote with #
the number of times the coin came up heads
!f # % ", we add to the skip list new lists !
"+1
, . , !
# +1
, each
containing only the two special keys
We search for % in the skip list and find the positions &
0
, &
1
, ., &
#
of the items with largest key less than % in each list !
0
, !
1
, . , !
#
For = \$0, ., #, we insert item (%, <) into list !
=
after position &
=
Example: insert key 15, with # = 2
!nsertion
+! "!
10 36
+! "!
23
23 +! "!
!
0
!
1
!
2
+! "!
!
0
!
1
!
2
!
3
+! "!
10 36 23 15
+! "!
15
+! "!
23 15
&
0
&
1
&
2
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Deletion
To remove an item with key % from a skip list, we proceed as
follows:
We search for % in the skip list and find the positions &
0
, &
1
, ., &
#
of the items with key %, where position &
=
is in list !
=
We remove positions &
0
, &
1
, ., &
#
from the lists !
0
, !
1
, . , !
#
We remove all but one list containing only the two special keys
Example: remove key 34
"! +!
45 12
"! +!
23
23 "! +!
!
0
!
1
!
2
"! +!
!
0
!
1
!
2
!
3
"! +!
45 12 23 34
"! +!
34
"! +!
23 34
&
0
&
1
&
2
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!mplementation
We can implement a skip list
item
Also, we define special keys
PLUS_!NF and N!NUS_!NF,
and we modify the key
comparator to handle them
%
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Space Usage
The space used by a skip list
depends on the random bits
used by each invocation of the
insertion algorithm
We use the following two basic
probabilistic facts:
Fact 1: The probability of getting #
flipping a coin is 1/2
#
Fact 2: !f each of 0 items is
present in a set with
probability &, the expected size
of the set is 0&
Consider a skip list with 0
items
By Fact 1, we insert an item
in list !
#
with probability 1/2
#
By Fact 2, the expected size
of list !
#
is 0/2
#
The expected number of
nodes used by the skip list is
! !
!
"
#
#
"
#
#
2
2
1
2
0 0
< =

= =
Thus, the expected space
usage of a skip list with 0
items is 2(0)
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Height
The running time of the
search an insertion
algorithms is affected by the
height " of the skip list
We show that with high
probability, a skip list with 0
items has height 2(log 0)
We use the following
Fact 3: !f each of 0 events has
probability &, the probability
that at least one event
occurs is at most 0&
Consider a skip list with 0
items
By Fact 1, we insert an item in
list !
#
with probability 1/2
#
By Fact 3, the probability that
list !
#
has at least one item is
at most 0/2
#
By picking # = 3log 0, we have
that the probability that !
3log 0
has at least one item is
at most
0/2
3log 0
= 0/0
3
= 1/0
2
Thus a skip list with 0 items
has height at most 3log 0 with
probability at least 1 " 1/0
2
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Search and Update Times
The search time in a skip list
is proportional to
the number of drop-down
steps, plus
the number of scan-forward
steps
The drop-down steps are
bounded by the height of the
skip list and thus are 2(log 0)
with high probability
To analyze the scan-forward
steps, we use yet another
probabilistic fact:
Fact +: The expected number of
coin tosses required in order
to get tails is 2
When we scan forward in a
list, the destination key does
not belong to a higher list
A scan-forward step is
associated with a former coin
toss that gave tails
By Fact +, in each list the
expected number of scan-
forward steps is 2
Thus, the expected number of
scan-forward steps is 2(log 0)
We conclude that a search in a
skip list takes 2(log 0)
expected time
The analysis of insertion and
deletion gives similar results
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Summary
A skip list is a data
structure for
dictionaries that uses a
randomized insertion
algorithm
!n a skip list with 0
items
The expected space used
is 2(0)
The expected search,
insertion and deletion
time is 2(log 0)
Using a more complex
probabilistic analysis,
one can show that
these performance
bounds also hold with
high probability
Skip lists are fast and
simple to implement in
practice