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Variational data structures: Exploring tradeoffs in computing with variability

: Walkingshaw, E.; Kästner, C.; Erwig, M.; Apel, S.; Bodden, E.


Association for Computing Machinery -ACM-; Association for Computing Machinery -ACM-, Special Interest Group on Programming Languages -SIGPLAN-:
Onward!2014, ACM International Symposium on New Ideas, New Paradigms, and Reflections on Programming and Software. Proceedings : Part of SPLASH 2014, October 25-30, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
New York: ACM, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4503-3210-1
International Symposium on New Ideas, New Paradigms, and Reflections on Programming and Software (Onward!) <2014, Pittsburgh/Pa.>
Conference on Systems, Programming, Languages and Applications - Software for Humanity (SPLASH) <2014, Pittsburgh/Pa.>
Conference Paper
Fraunhofer SIT ()

Variation is everywhere, and in the construction and analysis of customizable software it is paramount. In this context, there arises a need for variational data structures for efficiently representing and computing with related variants of an underlying data type. So far, variational data structures have been explored and developed ad hoc. This paper is a first attempt and a call to action for systematic and foundational research in this area. Research on variational data structures will benefit not only customizable software, but many other application domains that must cope with variability. In this paper, we show how support for variation can be understood as a general and orthogonal property of data types, data structures, and algorithms. We begin a systematic exploration of basic variational data structures, exploring the tradeoffs among different implementations. Finally, we retrospectively analyze the design decisions in our own previous work where we have independently encountered problems requiring variational data structures.