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Posted 28 Mar 2004

# Priority queue

, 28 Mar 2004
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Another addition to the System.Collections namespace - a priority queue, also known as a heap.

## Introduction

Many algorithms - for instance Dijkstra's well-known search for the shortest path - run most efficient with a 'semi-sorted' list, which always has the smallest element up front. The most efficient structure for this purpose is a heap, also called priority queue.

## Usage

The `PriorityQueue` class is built in the guidelines of the `System.Collections` namespace. Comparison is done through the `IComparer` interface, or, if none is specified, through the `IComparable` implementation of the provided objects. The objects in the PQ need not have all the same type but they have to be comparable with each other.

Next to the standard `System.Collections` methods (`Count`, `Contains`, ... you name it), the PQ supports 3 main operations:

• `Push()`: This will add an object to the PQ, reforming the structure so that this element is at the front if it is the currently smallest. The complexity of the operation is O(ld n).
• `Pop()`: This will remove and return the current head of the PQ, which always is the smallest element. Complexity O(ld n).
• `Update()`: It might be necessary to change elements that are already in the queue. Because this is not very common (you need to find the element first), it can only be done by the explicit `IList` implementation (the indexer should not be used in any other case). Once you set the indexer, the PQ will automatically reorder. Complexity O(ld n) (surprise;))

## Example

```/// We create a PQ, add some random numbers and retreive them in sorted order:

IPriorityQueue PQ = new BinaryPriorityQueue();
Random R = new Random();
int i;
for(i=0;i<50;i++)
{
PQ.Push(R.Next(1000));
}
while(PQ.Count>0)
Console.WriteLine(PQ.Pop());```

## History

• 30.3.04 - Inserted.
• 31.3.04 - renamed the main class to `BinaryPriorityQueue`.

Created `IPriorityQueue` interface.

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 Software Developer (Senior) Germany
I did my diploma in Dresden and Sydney where I dealt with algorithms, agents and other cool AI stuff. Now I moved to Frankfurt to work on my PhD dealing with software structures for artificial intelligence systems. If I can, I do things in C# and ASP.NET, but if I have to, my C++, Java and SQL are not that bad.
Long Live .NET.

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 There are several reasons:First of all, Queue is less flexible: you can only enqueue/dequeue at the tail, there is no indexed access. Dequeue adds that flexibility with no loss of performance (enqueuing to the head is as fast as enqueuing to the tail).Second, I think that all those System.Collection classes are a bit unfriendly. They have all their data members as 'protected internal', so you dont have a chance of really extending any of them - you just dont have access to the data core or other important members.So from time to time its quite useful to write a new implementation of a collection, even if it adds not that much to the present functionality.Take care,Ben
 Re: What is wrong with Queue? BenDi2-Apr-04 10:38 BenDi 2-Apr-04 10:38
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