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Subject: Adjacency Arrays in Graph Proposal (p1709r0)
From: Sebastian Messmer (messmer_at_[hidden])
Date: 2019-07-18 12:27:52


I looked through the graph proposal paper and I think there might be some misunderstandings about what I meant when I talked about adjacency arrays in our phone call.

I found a picture online that might make things a bit more clear: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/The-adjacency-list-data-structure-used-in-our-implementation-shown-for-a-sample-graph_fig1_268988477
(they call it adjacency list in that link, but it’s actually an adjacency array).

An adjacency array stores all edges in one array, but sorted by vertex. There is an additional vertex array that stores pointers to its first edge in the edge array.
Say V is that vertex array and E is the edge array, then E[V[i] … V[i+1]-1] is the range storing all edges for vertex I, usually they store the vertex index of the vertex on the other side of the edge.

A directed graph that only needs to be forward-traversable does not store backwards edges, for each vertex the edge array only holds the out-edges.
A undirected graph stores each edge twice, once for each vertex.
A directed graph that need to be forward- and backward-traversable can be implemented by storing two indices in/out per vertex. E[V[i].in ... V[i].out-1] stores the in-edges and E[V[i].out ... V[i+1].in-1] stores the out-edges. This also means that each edge is stored twice.

Adjacency arrays are very fast and cache-efficient when traversed but slow when modified. They are often used for map data and route planning because map data doesn’t change that often.

Following this, there’s a few errors in the paper, for example:

  * Inserting a new edge to a pre-existing node is O(number of edges), not O(1), because it needs to add a new entry to the middle of the edge array
  * The paper claims “For instance, edges in an adjacency matrix should only be as big as the user-defined edge value, and for an adjacency array should be the size of user-defined edge value and in and out vertex references (vertex_id or pointer).”. Actually, an edge only stores only one vertex reference, not an in- and out-reference.

Sebastian Messmer

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