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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

Improving locality of reference in a garbage-collecting memory management system

Modern Lisp systems make heavy use of a garbage-collecting style of memory management. Generally, the locality of reference in garbage-collected systems has been very poor. In virtual memory systems, this poor locality of reference generally causes a large amount of wasted time waiting on page faults or uses excessively large amounts of main memory. An adaptive memory management algorithm, described in this article, allows substantial improvement in locality of reference. Performance measurements indicate that page-wait time typically is reduced by a factor of four with constant memory size and disk technology. Alternately, the size of memory typically can be reduced by a factor of two with constant performance.

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