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Re: Timer object

daemon@ATHENA.MIT.EDU (Mon Dec 19 11:09:59 1994 )

To: Zachary <zachary@pentagon.io.com>
Cc: jeffpk@netcom.com (Jeff Kesselman), coldstuff@MIT.EDU
In-Reply-To: Your message of "Mon, 19 Dec 1994 08:47:47 CST."
Date: Mon, 19 Dec 1994 11:07:46 EST
From: Greg Hudson <ghudson@MIT.EDU>

>> Its quite possible that there are more efficient ways to do what I
>> am doing, particularly in the resetting of a clock callback.  If
>> someone can suggest better code, Ild be more then happy to use it.

> looks okay, but I think you can make it a bit more efficent in the
> average case by keeping the list of callbacks in order from soonest
> to latest - this changes your check each tick to O(1) (ie constant
> time to check to see if just the first thing has happened yet) at
> the expense of making your inserts O(n) with n the length of the
> list.  Average insert case is then actually O(n/2), but who's
> counting?

Probably the most efficient way of doing this is to use a heap, the
same data structure used during a heap sort.  A heap is an array
organized such that (assuming you're interested in the least element,
and the array is one-based):

	A[i] <= A[2i]
	A[i] <= A[2i+1]

(There are similar versions for zero-based arrays, or when you're
interested in the greatest element.)  You can think of the heap as
representing a tree, where the parent of a node A[i] is A[floor(i/2)]
and the children of a node A[i] are A[2i] and A[2i+1].  Then the value
at a node i is always less than or equal to the value of its children
(for those children which exist).  It's obvious that the first element
of the heap (A[1]) is the least value, which is nice for a timer

To insert a node into a heap, you put it at the end and then swap it
with its parent until all the heap constraints are satisfied,
propagating it up the tree.  Deleting a node is a bit tricky; you
remove it from the heap, swap the last element of the heap into its
place, and then you have to decide whether to propagate it up the
tree, repeatedly swapping it with its parent, or propagate it down the
tree, repeatedly swapping it with its child with the least value.  If
you're deleting the first element of the heap, then clearly you're
propagating downwards, so it's a little bit simpler.

The time characteristics are:

	Insertion		O(lg(n))
	Deletion		O(lg(n))
	Checking first value	O(1)

Since every timer is inserted once and deleted once, this yields a
time of O(lg(n)) for the life of a timer.  Linked list or ordered
linked list methods yield a time of O(n) for the life of a timer.

This may seem like a lot of theory, but it doesn't actually require a
lot of code.  (If you look at the timer functions in $sys from Cold
World, you'll find that they implement a heap where you can only
remove the first element, and they're two five- or six-line methods.)
Here is some C code for a timer module I wrote to replaced a linked
list implementation in a messaging server here at MIT:

/* This file is part of the Project Athena Zephyr Notification System.
 * It contains functions for managing multiple timeouts.
 *      Created by:     John T. Kohl
 *      Derived from timer_manager_ by Ken Raeburn
 *      $Source: /mit/zephyr/src/server/RCS/timer.c,v $
 *      $Author: ghudson $

#ifndef SABER
#ifndef lint
static char rcsid[] =
    "$Id: timer.c,v 1.16 1994/10/31 05:51:26 ghudson Exp $";
#endif /* lint */
#endif /* SABER */

 * timer_manager_ -- routines for handling timers in login_shell
 * (and elsewhere)
 * Copyright 1986 Student Information Processing Board,
 * Massachusetts Institute of Technology
 * written by Ken Raeburn

Permission to use, copy, modify, and distribute this
software and its documentation for any purpose and without
fee is hereby granted, provided that the above copyright
notice appear in all copies and that both that copyright
notice and this permission notice appear in supporting
documentation, and that the name of M.I.T. and the Student
Information Processing Board not be used in
advertising or publicity pertaining to distribution of the
software without specific, written prior permission.
M.I.T. and the Student Information Processing Board
make no representations about the suitability of
this software for any purpose.  It is provided "as is"
without express or implied warranty.


 * External functions:
 * timer timer_set_rel (time_rel, proc, arg)
 *      long time_rel;
 *      void (*proc)();
 *      caddr_t arg;
 * timer timer_set_abs (time_abs, proc, arg)
 *      long time_abs;
 *      void (*proc)();
 *      caddr_t arg;
 * void timer_reset(tmr)
 *      timer tmr;
 * void timer_process()

#include <stdio.h>
#include "zserver.h"

/* DELTA is just an offset to keep the size a bit less than a power 
 * of two.  It's measured in pointers, so it's 32 bytes on most
 * systems. */
#define DELTA 8
#define INITIAL_HEAP_SIZE (1024 - DELTA)

/* We have three operations which we need to be able to perform
 * quickly: adding a timer, deleting a timer given a pointer to
 * it, and determining which timer will be the next to go off.  A
 * heap is an ideal data structure for these purposes, so we use
 * one.  The heap is an array of pointers to timers, and each timer
 * knows the position of its pointer in the heap.
 * Okay, what is the heap, exactly?  It's a data structure,
 * represented as an array, with the invariant condition that
 * the timeout of heap[i] is less than or equal to the timeout of
 * heap[i * 2 + 1] and heap[i * 2 + 2] (assuming i * 2 + 1 and
 * i * 2 + 2 are valid * indices).  An obvious consequence of this
 * is that heap[0] has the lowest timer value, so finding the first
 * timer to go off is easy.  We say that an index i has "children"
 * i * 2 + 1 and i * 2 + 1, and the "parent" (i - 1) / 2.
 * To add a timer to the heap, we start by adding it to the end, and
 * then keep swapping it with its parent until it has a parent with
 * a timer value less than its value.  With a little bit of thought,
 * you can see that this preserves the heap property on all indices
 * of the array.
 * To delete a timer at position i from the heap, we discard it and
 * fill in its position with the last timer in the heap.  In order
 * to restore the heap, we have to consider two cases: the timer
 * value at i is less than that of its parent, or the timer value at
 * i is greater than that of one of its children.  In the first case,
 * we propagate the timer at i up the tree, swapping it with its
 * parent, until the heap is restored; in the second case, we
 * propagate the timer down the tree, swapping it with its least
 * child, until the heap is restored. */

/* In order to ensure that the back pointers from timers are consistent
 * with the heap pointers, all heap assignments should be done with the
 * HEAP_ASSIGN() macro, which sets the back pointer and updates the
 * heap at the same time. */
#define PARENT(i) (((i) - 1) / 2)
#define CHILD1(i) ((i) * 2 + 1)
#define CHILD2(i) ((i) * 2 + 2)
#define TIME(i) (heap[i]->time)
#define HEAP_ASSIGN(pos, tmr) ((heap[pos] = (tmr))->heap_pos = (pos))

long nexttimo = 0L;                     /* the Unix time of the next
                                           alarm */
static timer *heap;
static int num_timers = 0;
static int heap_size = 0;

#ifdef __STDC__
# define        P(s) s
# define P(s) ()

static void timer_botch P((void*));
static timer add_timer P((timer));

 * timer_set_rel(time_rel, proc)
 *   time_rel: alarm time relative to now, in seconds
 *   proc: subroutine to be called (no args, returns void)
 * creates a "timer" and adds it to the current list, returns "timer"

timer timer_set_rel (time_rel, proc, arg)
     long time_rel;
     void (*proc) P((void *));
     void *arg;
        timer new_t;
        new_t = (timer) xmalloc(sizeof(*new_t));
        if (new_t == NULL)
        new_t->time = time_rel + NOW;
        new_t->func = proc;
        new_t->arg = arg;
        return add_timer(new_t);

 * timer_reset
 * args:
 *   tmr: timer to be removed from the list
 * removes any timers matching tmr and reallocates list

     timer tmr;
        int pos, min;

        /* Free the timer, saving its heap position. */
        pos = tmr->heap_pos;

	if (pos != num_timers - 1) {
	    /* Replace the timer with the last timer in the heap and
	     * restore the heap, propagating the timer either up or
	     * down, depending on which way it violates the heap
	     * property to insert the last timer in place of the
	     * deleted timer. */
	    if (pos > 0 && TIME(num_timers - 1) < TIME(PARENT(pos))) {
                do {
		    HEAP_ASSIGN(pos, heap[PARENT(pos)]);
		    pos = PARENT(pos);
                } while (pos > 0 && TIME(num_timers - 1) < TIME(PARENT(pos)));
                HEAP_ASSIGN(pos, heap[num_timers - 1]);
	    } else {
                while (CHILD2(pos) < num_timers) {
		    min = num_timers - 1;
		    if (TIME(CHILD1(pos)) < TIME(min))
			min = CHILD1(pos);
		    if (TIME(CHILD2(pos)) < TIME(min))
			min = CHILD2(pos);
		    HEAP_ASSIGN(pos, heap[min]);
		    pos = min;
		if (pos != num_timers - 1)
		    HEAP_ASSIGN(pos, heap[num_timers - 1]);

        /* Fix up the next timeout. */
        nexttimo = (num_timers == 0) ? 0 : heap[0]->time;

#define set_timeval(t,s) ((t).tv_sec=(s),(t).tv_usec=0,(t))

/* add_timer(t:timer)
 * args:
 *   t: new "timer" to be added
 * returns:
 *   0 if successful
 *   -1 if error (errno set) -- old time table may have been destroyed
static timer
     timer new;
        int pos;

        /* Create or resize the heap as necessary. */
        if (heap_size == 0) {
                heap_size = INITIAL_HEAP_SIZE;
                heap = (timer *) xmalloc(heap_size * sizeof(timer));
        } else if (num_timers >= heap_size) {
                heap_size = heap_size * 2 + DELTA;
                heap = (timer *) xrealloc(heap, heap_size * sizeof(timer));
        if (!heap) {
                return NULL;

        /* Insert the timer into the heap. */
        pos = num_timers;
        while (pos > 0 && new->time < TIME(PARENT(pos))) {
                HEAP_ASSIGN(pos, heap[PARENT(pos)]);
                pos = PARENT(pos);
        HEAP_ASSIGN(pos, new);

        /* Fix up the next timeout. */
        nexttimo = heap[0]->time;
        return new;

 * timer_process -- checks for next timer execution time
 * and execute 

        register timer t;
        timer_proc func;
        void *arg;
        int valid = 0;

        if (num_timers == 0 || heap[0]->time > NOW)

        /* Remove the first timer from the heap, remembering it's 
         * function and argument.  timer_reset() updates nexttimo. */
        t = heap[0];
        func = t->func;
        arg = t->arg;
        t->func = timer_botch;
        t->arg = NULL;

        /* Run the function. */

static void
     void *arg;
        syslog(LOG_CRIT, "Timer botch\n");