Pointer jumping requires concurrent read

Noam Nisan*, Ziv Bar-Yossef

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


We consider the well known problem of determining the k'th vertex reached by chasing pointers in a directed graph of out-degree 1. The famous `pointer doubling' technique provides an O(log k) parallel time algorithm on a Concurrent-Read Exclusive-Write (CREW) PRAM. We prove that this problem requires Ω(k) steps on an Exclusive-Read Exclusive-Write (EREW) PRAM, for every k≤c√log n, where n is the number of vertices and c is a constant. This yields a boolean function which can be computed in O(log log n) time on a CREW PRAM, but requires Ω(√log n) time on even an `ideal' EREW PRAM. This is the first separation known for boolean functions between the power of EREW and CREW PRAMs. Previously, separations between EREW and CREW PRAMs were only known for functions on `huge' input domains, or for restricted types of EREW PRAMs.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)549-558
Number of pages10
JournalConference Proceedings of the Annual ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing
StatePublished - 1997
EventProceedings of the 1997 29th Annual ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing - El Paso, TX, USA
Duration: 4 May 19976 May 1997


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