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Programming Pearls, Second Edition by Jon Bentley

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Column 10: Squeezing Space

If you’re like several people I know, your first thought on reading the title of this column is, “How quaint!” In the bad old days of computing, so the story goes, programmers were constrained by small machines, but those days are long gone. The new philosophy is, “A gigabyte here, a gigabyte there, pretty soon you’re talking about real memory.” And there is truth in that view — many programmers use big machines and rarely have to worry about squeezing space from their programs.

But every now and then, thinking hard about compact programs can be profitable. Sometimes the thought gives new insight that makes the program simpler. Reducing space often has desirable side-effects on run time: smaller programs are faster ...

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