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lua-lru, LRU cache in Lua

Build Status Coverage Status Luacheck License


$ luarocks install lua-lru

LRU cache:

LRU cache

LRU cache is implemented using a doubly linked list and a hash map. Hash Map maps a key to a corresponding tuple. Doubly Linked List is used to store list of tuples (value, previous, next, key, size_in_bytes). key is needed in a tuple to be able to remove an element from the hash map. Field size_in_bytes is optional and is used if sizes in bytes are counted (and constrained) as well as the number of elements.

Create an instance of LRU cache for 100 elements:

lru = require 'lru'
cache =

Create an instance of LRU cache for 100 elements of 1000 bytes totally:

lru = require 'lru'
cache =, 1000)


  • cache:set(key, value, size_in_bytes) add or update an element. If key is not in cache, creates new element. Otherwise, updates the value of the existing element. In both cases, moves the element to the head of the queue.

    If the cache was full, the tail of the queue is removed. If the cache has the limit of bytes used by its elements, it is enforced as well: the elements are removed until enough space is freed. If the size of the element being added or updated is greater than the limit, the error is thrown. Argument size_in_bytes defaults to #value.

    If value is nil, it doesn't occupy a slot.


    • O(1) if cache doesn't have size_in_bytes limit,
    • amortized O(1) if cache has size_in_bytes limit.
  • cache:get(key) returns the value corresponding to the key. If key is not in cache, returns nil. Otherwise moves the element to the head of the queue.

    Complexity: O(1).

  • cache:delete(key) same as cache:set(key, nil)

    Complexity: O(1).

  • cache:pairs() returns key-value iterator. Example:

    for key, value in cache:pairs() do
    -- Lua >= 5.2
    for key, value in pairs(cache) do


    • O(1) to create an iterator,
    • O(cache size) to visit all elements.

Comparison with other implementations

I have found two other implementations of LRU in Lua.

Both lua-resty-lrucache and Lua-LRU-Cache provide ttl for the elements, but do not provide size_in_bytes.

This library (lua-lru) seems to be faster than lua-resty-lrucache and Lua-LRU-Cache.

The benchmark runs cache:get with random keys 1kk times, alternating ranges [1;1000] and [1;10000] with period 5. In case of cache hit it compares the cached value with the expected value. Otherwise it calls cache:set. Source of the benchmark can be found in benchmark/ directory.


$ ./

Architecture:          x86_64
CPU op-mode(s):        32-bit, 64-bit
Byte Order:            Little Endian
CPU(s):                8
On-line CPU(s) list:   0-7
Thread(s) per core:    2
Core(s) per socket:    4
Socket(s):             1
NUMA node(s):          1
Vendor ID:             GenuineIntel
CPU family:            6
Model:                 62
Stepping:              4
CPU MHz:               2800.232
BogoMIPS:              5599.82
Virtualization:        VT-x
L1d cache:             32K
L1i cache:             32K
L2 cache:              256K
L3 cache:              10240K
NUMA node0 CPU(s):     0-7

LuaJIT 2.0.3 -- Copyright (C) 2005-2014 Mike Pall.
no cache

real    0m0.219s
user    0m0.216s
sys     0m0.000s

real    0m2.747s
user    0m2.724s
sys     0m0.000s

real    0m5.403s
user    0m5.384s
sys     0m0.004s

real    0m8.813s
user    0m8.785s
sys     0m0.000s
... too slow, waited for 10 hours

Both lua-lru and resty-lru are compiled by LuaJIT perfectly:

$ luajit -v
LuaJIT 2.1.0-alpha -- Copyright (C) 2005-2015 Mike Pall.

$ luajit -jp=v benchmark.lua lru
99%  Compiled

$ luajit -jp=v benchmark.lua lrucache
92%  Compiled
8%  Garbage Collector

$ luajit -jp=v benchmark.lua pureffi
98%  Compiled


LRU cache in Lua







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