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Paging with Dynamic Memory Capacity

Author Enoch Peserico

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Enoch Peserico
  • Univ. Padova, Italy


We are indebted to Federica Bogo and Michele Scquizzato for their relentless encouragement and a number of fruitful discussions on this topic; and to the anonymous referees of STACS 2019 for their insightful, in-depth review of our work.

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Enoch Peserico. Paging with Dynamic Memory Capacity. In 36th International Symposium on Theoretical Aspects of Computer Science (STACS 2019). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 126, pp. 56:1-56:18, Schloss Dagstuhl - Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2019)


We study a generalization of the classic paging problem that allows the amount of available memory to vary over time - capturing a fundamental property of many modern computing realities, from cloud computing to multi-core and energy-optimized processors. It turns out that good performance in the "classic" case provides no performance guarantees when memory capacity fluctuates: roughly speaking, moving from static to dynamic capacity can mean the difference between optimality within a factor 2 in space and time, and suboptimality by an arbitrarily large factor. More precisely, adopting the competitive analysis framework, we show that some online paging algorithms, despite having an optimal (h,k)-competitive ratio when capacity remains constant, are not (3,k)-competitive for any arbitrarily large k in the presence of minimal capacity fluctuations. In this light it is surprising that several classic paging algorithms perform remarkably well even if memory capacity changes adversarially - in fact, even without taking those changes into explicit account! In particular, we prove that LFD still achieves the minimum number of faults, and that several classic online algorithms such as LRU have a "dynamic" (h,k)-competitive ratio that is the best one can achieve without knowledge of future page requests, even if one had perfect knowledge of future capacity fluctuations. Thus, with careful management, knowing/predicting future memory resources appears far less crucial to performance than knowing/predicting future data accesses. We characterize the optimal "dynamic" (h,k)-competitive ratio exactly, and show it has a somewhat complex expression that is almost but not quite equal to the "classic" ratio k/(k-h+1), thus proving a strict if minuscule separation between online paging performance achievable in the presence or absence of capacity fluctuations.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Caching and paging algorithms
  • paging
  • cache
  • adaptive
  • elastic
  • online
  • competitive
  • virtual
  • energy


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