A reimplementation of `Data.IntMap` that uses minimum and maximum bounds on subtrees instread of bit prefixes.
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The most current work on this is being done in haskell/containers#340. This repository is not obsolete because it is still the best description of the algorithm, but it is unmaintained.

bounded-intmap is a reimplementation of Data.IntMap that uses minimum and maximum bounds on subtrees instread of bit prefixes. The original idea, by Edward Kmett, is described here. As per my current benchmark results, this implemenation seems to range from 33% faster to 33% slower than stock Data.IntMap. However, only four types of function in the benchmark, intersection, difference, fromAscList, and foldlWithKey, are slower than stock Data.IntMap, and not all of these are slower in all cases. In comparison, lookup, member, map, mapMaybe, insert, delete, update, 'alter', and union are all faster than stock Data.IntMap. Additionally, this implementation, on GHC, has an overhead of 3 words per key/value pair, while stock Data.IntMap has an overhead of 6 words per key/value pair.

I deviate from Edward Kmett's implementation in a couple of ways:

  • I removed the redundant encoding of bounds. Previously, you might have a tree like this:

            /    \
         0,3      4,7 
        /   \     /  \
      0,1   2,3  4,5  6,7

    Now, you have trees like this:

        /  \
       3    4 
      / \  / \
     1   2 5  6

    Note that this means that this implementation consumes less memory than the current Data.IntMap.

  • I factored the datatype into two pieces: Node for non-empty trees, and WordMap for possibly empty trees.

  • I cache some of the computation for locating a key as I traverse the key, making it quicker to decide which way to go.

  • The values associated with each key are stored with the key instead of at the leaves.

Why WordMap?

Although the main goal of this project is to replace Data.IntMap, I also expose another module, Data.WordMap. In fact, my IntMap implementation is mostly just a wrapper of the WordMap code. The primary reason for this is code readability. Fundamentally, the data structure implemented here is a trie, and wants to work with lexographically ordered strings of bits. Words have the correct ordering and more naturally fit the idea of bitstring than an Int, which is used for arithmetic. Given that I, unlike the previous Data.IntMap, actually use comparisons, the convenience for using Words is even larger. The decision to expose Data.WordMap was then a simple one: I had already written the code, so why not?

Secondarily, I believe that the Haskell community doesn't use Words enough, even when they are most applicable (which is weird, given the love of more accurately showing invariants in the type system), and having some libraries that actually use them would help.

Benchmark Results

The criterion report is here.

Current Progress

Below is a listing of every function in stock Data.IntMap, along with the implementation state in bounded-intmap. There are three implementation states:

  • Raw means that I have implemented the function directly. These functions should be on par with or faster than their corresponding functions in stock Data.IntMap.
  • Delegated means that I have implemented the function, but in terms of other functions. This usually means that it will be slower than stock Data.IntMap, sometimes asymptotically, and I haven't figured out how to implement it (or implement it nicely) yet. Note that some functions marked as such, like insertWithKey, are trivial uses of other functions are should have almost no performance hit.
  • Unimplemented means that I have yet to implement the function in any form.


  • (!). Delegated, using findWithDefault.
  • (\\). Delegated, using difference.


  • null. Raw.
  • size. Raw.
  • member. Raw.
  • notMember. Raw.
  • lookup. Raw.
  • findWithDefault. Raw.
  • lookupLT. Raw.
  • lookupGT. Raw.
  • lookupLE. Raw.
  • lookupGE. Raw.


  • empty. Raw.
  • singleton. Raw.


  • insert. Raw.
  • insertWith. Raw.
  • insertWithKey. Delegated, using insertWith.
  • insertLookupWithKey. Raw.


  • delete. Raw.
  • adjust. Raw.
  • adjustWithkey. Delegated, using adjust.
  • update. Raw.
  • updateWithKey. Delegated, using update.
  • updateLookupWithKey. Raw.
  • alter. Delegated, using lookup and either delete or insert.
  • alterF. Delegated, using lookup and either delete or insert.



  • union. Raw.
  • unionWith. Delegated, using unionWithKey.
  • unionWithKey. Raw.
  • unions. Delegated, using lots of unions.
  • unionsWith. Delegated, using lots of unionWiths.


  • difference. Raw.
  • differenceWith. Delegated, using differenceWithKey.
  • differenceWithKey. Raw.


  • intersection. Raw. See note on intersectionWithKey.
  • intersectionWith. Delegated, using intersectionWithKey.
  • intersectionWithKey. Raw. Note that it is still slower than stock Data.IntMap by up to (though not necessarily) 50%.

Universal combining function

  • mergeWithKey. Delegated, using merge. Much slower than stock mergeWithKey and always will be - this function is terrible and abstraction-breaking.



  • map. Raw. Actually, this is sort of delegated to fmap, but since the delegation is just map = fmap and will probably be inlined, I count this as raw.
  • mapWithKey. Raw.
  • traverseWithKey. Raw.
  • mapAccum. Delegated, using mapAccumWithKey.
  • mapAccumWithKey. Raw.
  • mapAccumRWithKey. Raw.
  • mapKeys. Delegated, using foldrWithKey' and lots of inserts.
  • mapKeysWith. Delegated, using foldrWithKey' and lots of insertWiths.
  • mapKeysMonotonic. Delegated, using mapKeys.


  • foldr. Raw.
  • foldl. Raw.
  • foldrWithKey. Raw.
  • foldlWithKey. Raw.
  • foldMapWithKey. Raw.

Strict folds

  • foldr'. Raw.
  • foldl'. Raw.
  • foldrWithKey'. Raw.
  • foldlWithKey'. Raw.


  • elems. Delegated, using foldr.
  • keys. Delegated, using foldrWithKey.
  • assocs. Delegated, using toAscList.
  • keysSet. Delegated, using keys and Data.IntSet.fromDistinctAscList. Note that this is only for IntMap, not for WordMap, as I'm not sure what to convert to.
  • fromSet. Delegated, using Data.IntSet.toList and fromDistinctAscList. Note that this is only for IntMap, not for WordMap, as I'm not sure what to convert from.


  • toList. Delegated, using toAscList.
  • fromList. Delegated, using lots of inserts.
  • fromListWith. Delegated, using lots of inserts.
  • fromListWithKey. Delegated, using lots of inserts.

Ordered lists

  • toAscList. Delegated, using foldrWithKey.
  • toDescList. Delegated, using foldlWithKey.
  • fromAscList. Delegated, using fromList.
  • fromAscListWith. Delegated, using fromListWith.
  • fromAscListWithKey. Delegated, using fromListWithKey.
  • fromDistinctAscList. Delegated, using fromList.


  • filter. Delegated, using filterWithKey.
  • filterWithKey. Raw.
  • restrictKeys. Delegated, using filterWithKey and Data.IntSet.member. Note that this is only for IntMap, not for WordMap, as I'm not sure what set to intersect with.
  • withoutKeys. Delegated, using filterWithKey and Data.IntSet.notMember. Note that this is only for IntMap, not for WordMap, as I'm not sure what set to intersect with.
  • partition. Delegated, using partitionWithKey.
  • partitionWithKey. Raw.
  • mapMaybe. Delegated, using mapMaybeWithKey.
  • mapMaybeWithKey. Raw.
  • mapEither. Delegated, using mapEitherWithKey.
  • mapEitherWithKey. Raw.
  • split. Delegated, using splitLookup.
  • splitLookup. Raw.
  • splitRoot. Raw.


  • isSubmapOf. Delegated, using isSubmapOfBy.
  • isSubmapOfBy. Raw.
  • isProperSubmapOf. Delegated, using isProperSubmapOfBy.
  • isProperSubmapOfBy. Raw.


  • findMin. Raw. Note that this is asymptotically faster than stock Data.IntMap.
  • findMax. Raw. Note that this is asymptotically faster than stock Data.IntMap.
  • deleteMin. Delegated, using findMin and delete.
  • deleteMax. Delegated, using findMin and delete.
  • deleteFindMin. Delegated, using findMin and delete.
  • deleteFindMax. Delegated, using findMin and delete.
  • updateMin. Delegated, using findMin and update.
  • updateMax. Delegated, using findMin and update.
  • updateMinWithKey. Delegated, using findMin and updateWithKey.
  • updateMaxWithKey. Delegated, using findMin and updateWithKey.
  • minView. Delegated, using findMin and delete.
  • maxView. Delegated, using findMin and delete.
  • minViewWithKey. Delegated, using findMin and delete.
  • maxViewWithKey. Delegated, using findMin and delete.


Note that this section shouldn't matter to the average user.

  • showTree. Raw.
  • showTreeWith. Unimplemented.

Description of the internals

The basic integer map: the bitwise trie

We are trying to create an efficient, simple mapping from integers to values. The most common approaches for these are hash tables, which are not persistent (though we can come close with HAMTs), and binary search trees, which work well, but don't use any special properties of the integer. To come up with this mapping, we need to think of integers not as numbers, but instead as strings of bits. Once we change our mindset, we can use the standard trie data structure to build our mapping. As bits are particularly simple, so is the resulting structure:

data WordMap a = Bin (WordMap a) (WordMap a) | Tip a | Nil

The Bin constructor represents a bitwise branch, and the Tip constructor comes after (on my machine) 64 Bin construtors in the tree. The associated basic operations are fairly simple:

lookup :: Word -> WordMap a -> Maybe a
lookup k = go 0
    go b (Bin l r) = if testBit b k
                     then go (b + 1) l
                     else go (b + 1) r
    go _ (Tip x) = Just x
    go _ Nil = Nothing

insert :: Word -> a -> WordMap a -> WordMap a
insert k a = go 0
    go 64 _ = Tip a
    go b (Bin l r) = if testBit b k
                     then Bin (go (b + 1) l) r
                     else Bin l (go (b + 1) r)
    go b _ = if testBit b k
             then Bin (go (b + 1) Nil) Nil
             else Bin Nil (go (b + 1) Nil)

delete follows similarly, and union isn't to hard - I leave it as an exercise to the reader. Unfortunately, this approach is horribly slow and space efficient. To see why, let us look at the tree structure for singleton 5 "hello":


Note that, for brevity, I have shortened the word size to 16 bits - the diagram is 4 times larger for our 64 bit system. In this atrocious tree structure, there is one pointer for every bit - a 64 fold explosion in space. Arguably worse is the fact that every single lookup or insert or delete must traverse 64 pointers, resulting in 64 cache misses and a terrible runtime. So, how do we fix this?

Path compression: PATRICIA trees and stock Data.IntMap

The key observation to reducing the space usage is that we can compress nodes that only have one child together - since they form a linear chain, we can simply concatenate the bits within that chain. For example, again temporarily shortening the word size to 16 bits:

singleton 5 "hello":

| 0000000000000101

fromList [(1, "1"), (4, "4"), (5, "5")]:

     | 0000000000000___
001/  \10_
"1"  0/ \1
    "4" "5"

This clearly produces a much more space efficient structure, and the basic operations, while more complicated, are still straightforward. In Haskell, the structure is:

data WordMap a = Bin Prefix Mask (WordMap a) (WordMap a) | Tip Word a | Nil

Note that in the above representation, the Mask is used to tell how long the Prefix is, and the Word in the Tip nodes is to avoid the for using Bin for singletons. This final representation is known as the big-endian PATRICIA tree, and is what today's Data.IntMap uses internally, albeit with some optimizations like strictness and unpacking, which I have omitted for simplicity. However, we can take this structure a few steps farther, which is the goal of this package.

Implicit prefixes: a simpler representation

The central observation for this step comes from Edward Kmett, as mentioned in a previous section. In the PATRICIA tree representation, we explicitly stored the common prefix of all the keys in a subtree. However, this prefix is not needed if we know what the largest and smallest keys stored within a subtree are - the common prefix of all the keys is just the common prefix of the minimum and maximum keys. Using this observation, we get another representation:

data WordMap a = Bin Word Word (WordMap a) (WordMap a) | Tip Word a | Nil

In tree form:

singleton 5 hello:

| 5

fromList [(1, "1"), (4, "4"), (5, "5")]:

    | (1, 5)
  1/  \ (4, 5)
"1"  4/ \5
    "4"  "5"

Traversing this tree efficiently is a bit more difficult, but still possible. For details, see the section below titled "Figuring out which way to go". This representation, since it gives exact minimums and maximums, can actually be more efficient than the PATRICIA tree, as seaches can terminate earlier. The range of values between the minimum and maximum is generally smaller than the range of values with the correct prefix, and so searches will know earlier if they are going to fail. However, the big gains of this representation come after a few more steps.

Removing redundancy

You may have noticed that the above representation store many keys repeatedly - in the {1,4,5} example, 1 was stored twice, 4 was stored twice, and 5 was stored three times. The reason for this is very simple. In the {1,4,5} example, we knew that the minimum was 1 and the maximum was 5. At the first branch, we split the set into two parts - {1} and {4,5}. However, the minimum of the smaller set was exactly the minimum of the original set. Similarly, the maximum of the larger set was exactly the maximum of the original set. Since we always travers the tree downward, this information is not needed. We can restructure the tree to only store 1 new value at each branch, removing the redundancy. Note that we also have to add an extra value at the root node, where this transformation does not work. In summary:

data WordMap a = Empty | NonEmpty Word (Node a)
data Node a = Bin Word (Node a) (Node a) | Tip a

In tree form:

    | 1
    | 5
   / \
"1" 4/ \
   "4"  "5"

With this optimization, the operations get more complicated again, but we have achieved something amazing - this new representation is more memory efficient than stock Data.IntMap. We will improve this again, as well as the runtime, with our final optimization.

Moving the values upward

If you look carefully at the tree structure from the previous section, you will notice that we removed the redundancy perfectly - every key is stored exactly once. However, if the keys are stored in a unique location in the tree, why are the values stored far away? We can move the values upward in the tree to pair them with their keys and so get a simpler structure.

In Haskell:

data WordMap a = Empty | NonEmpty Word a (Node a)
data Node a = Bin Word a (Node a) (Node a) | Tip

In tree form:

    | 1 "1"
    | 5 "5"
   / \
     / \ 4 "4"

At first, this seems to improve neither runtime nor space usage - after all, all we did was move the values around. However, the Tip constructor is now empty, meaning that it can be shared among all the leaves of every tree. The Tip constructor essentiall disappears from the space usage profile, and we get a gain in memory. The runtime effect is even larger. Because the values are now high in the tree, functions like lookup don't have to go all the way to the leaves. This means following fewer pointers, which means fewer cache misses and just a shorter loop. Admittedly, after all this work, our functions have become much larger than the sizes they started with, but we have won speed gains and significant memory gains from the current state of the art.

Figuring out which way to go

Suppose we are looking up a key k in a tree. We know that the minimum key in the tree is min and that the maximum key is max. Represented in binary:

         shared prefix   bit to split on
           /----------\  /
min:       010010010101 0 ????????
max:       010010010101 1 ????????
k:         010010010101 ? ????????

To figure out in which subtree we need to recursively search for k, we need to know whether the bit to split on is zero or one. Now, if it is zero, then

xor min k: 000000000000 0 ????????
xor k max: 000000000000 1 ????????

If it is one:

xor min k: 000000000000 1 ????????
xor k max: 000000000000 0 ????????

Therefore, the splitting bit is set iff xor min k > xor k max. Taking the terminology from the original article, insideR k min max = xor min k > xor k max.