Definitions for random access
This page provides all possible meanings and translations of the word random access
Random House Webster's College Dictionary
a feature of a videodisc or compact disc player that allows the user to select and replay any portion without starting at the beginning.
Category: Radio and Television
Origin of random access:
designating an electronic medium for storing and retrieving information in arbitrary sequence.
The ability to access any element of a sequence in real time, without having to seek through preceding elements.
In computer science, random access is the ability to access an element at an arbitrary position in a sequence in equal time, independent of sequence size. The position is arbitrary in the sense that it is unpredictable, thus the use of the term "random" in "random access". The opposite is sequential access, where a remote element takes longer time to access. A typical illustration of this distinction is to compare an ancient scroll and the book. A more modern example is a cassette tape and a CD. In data structures, random access implies the ability to access any entry in a list in constant time. Very few data structures can guarantee this, other than arrays. Random access is critical, or at least valuable, to many algorithms such as binary search, integer sorting or certain versions of sieve of Eratosthenes. Other data structures, such as linked lists, sacrifice random access to make for efficient inserts, deletes, or reordering of data. Self-balancing binary search trees may provide an acceptable compromise, where access time is equal for any member of a collection and only grows logarithmically with its size.
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