Optimal Cache-Oblivious Mesh Layouts

Michael A. Bender, Bradley C. Kuszmaul, Shang-Hua Teng, Kebin Wang

A mesh is a graph that divides physical space into regularly-shaped regions. Meshes computations form the basis of many applications, e.g. finite-element methods, image rendering, and collision detection. In one important mesh primitive, called a mesh update, each mesh vertex stores a value and repeatedly updates this value based on the values stored in all neighboring vertices. The performance of a mesh update depends on the layout of the mesh in memory. This paper shows how to find a memory layout that guarantees that the mesh update has asymptotically optimal memory performance for any set of memory parameters. Such a memory layout is called cache-oblivious. Formally, for a $d$-dimensional mesh $G$, block size $B$, and cache size $M$ (where $M=\Omega(B^d)$), the mesh update of $G$ uses $O(1+|G|/B)$ memory transfers. The paper also shows how the mesh-update performance degrades for smaller caches, where $M=o(B^d)$. The paper then gives two algorithms for finding cache-oblivious mesh layouts. The first layout algorithm runs in time $O(|G|\log^2|G|)$ both in expectation and with high probability on a RAM. It uses $O(1+|G|\log^2(|G|/M)/B)$ memory transfers in expectation and $O(1+(|G|/B)(\log^2(|G|/M) + \log|G|))$ memory transfers with high probability in the cache-oblivious and disk-access machine (DAM) models. The layout is obtained by finding a fully balanced decomposition tree of $G$ and then performing an in-order traversal of the leaves of the tree. The second algorithm runs faster by almost a $\log|G|/\log\log|G|$ factor in all three memory models, both in expectation and with high probability. The layout obtained by finding a relax-balanced decomposition tree of $G$ and then performing an in-order traversal of the leaves of the tree.

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