The stack is a simple but important example of
an abstract data type.
It is used to store elements where the
Last element In
is the First one Out (LIFO).
Anyone with a cluttered desk or an overfull sink of washing-up
will be familiar with a stack.
New elements are added or pushed onto the top of the stack.
The first element to be removed or popped
is taken from the top - the last one in.
All recursive programming languages use an implicit system-stack
to allocate space for local variables of routines as they are called.
Some algorithms require the use of an explicit stack.
The operations above are pure or free of side-effects.
stack = empty_stack | push Element_Type × stack
empty :stack -> boolean
top :stack ->Element_Type
push:Element_Type × stack -> stack
empty(empty_stack) = true
empty(push(e,s)) = false
top(push(e,s)) = e
top(empty_stack) = error
pop(push(e,s)) = s
pop(empty_stack) = error
The Stack Abstract Data Type.
It is frequently the case that stacks do not share components
and then it is usual to write
pop and push procedures ((sub-)routines, methods, ...)
that change a stack as a side-effect.
In addition, top and pop operations are often used in sequence to get the
top value and then remove it.
In this case the pop procedure is usually written to
perform both operations.
Many programs use a single stack.
In this case just one instance of a stack may be declared
as a global variable (dangerous) or as part
of a stack module (safer).
The operations can then act on this instance implicitly.
Example: Reverse Polish Calculator
A small "pocket-calculator" program is given here.
The input language is
reverse-Polish (after Jan Lukasiewicz) or postfix notation which has
the advantage that no brackets are needed.
At least one commercially available pocket-calculator
uses this notation.
The program uses a single stack which
is implemented as a module in the following sections.
The module specifies a clean interface between the use of the stack
and the implementation of the stack.
The latter can be changed so long as the interface is adhered to and
the calculator program will still work.
The implementation(s) can be verified and tested to ensure
compliance with the interface.
Use of modules in this way is a useful technique in the management of
large programming projects.
a+b*c a b c * +
(a+b)*c a b + c *
Each operand is pushed onto the stack.
Each operator takes two operands from the top of the stack
and pushes its result onto the stack
See the later section on the shunting algorithm
and the section on tree traversal in a later chapter for methods
of generating reverse-Polish notation from infix notation.
There are two natural ways to implement a stack depending on
A stack can be implemented by an array of elements.
An integer "pointer" top
indicates the element currently at the top of the stack.
Initially top is zero for an empty stack.
The array must be declared to have some fixed size.
This is acceptable if
an accurate estimate of the stack's maximum size can be made
before the program runs.
The other implementation uses a linked list.
This is more suitable if an accurate estimate of the
stack's maximum size cannot be made in advance.
Both methods of implementing a single stack are given here as modules.
The modules export only the abstract stack operations.
Either module can be used with the previous calculator program.
This illustrates that modules protect other parts of the program
from information that they do not need to know.
This design principle may not seem very convincing from
the small examples that must of necessity be given in this book,
but it is very important indeed in large programming projects.
Note that if multiple stacks are required
an opaque stack type must be exported from the module
so that separate stack instances can be declared;
the operations must then have a stack parameter to indicate which
stack is to be manipulated.
Stacks by Array
If a stack is known to be small or
if an accurate estimate of its maximum size is known then
an array gives an efficient implementation.
On the other hand,
if several stacks are used then enough space is reserved
for them all to be full simultaneously
even if it is known that this event can never occur.
Stacks by Lists
There is a very close correspondence between
The empty stack corresponds to the empty or null list
and push corresponds to constructing a list cell.
This makes an implementation by lists attractive
if a good prior estimate of the stack's size is not available.
Example: Shunting Algorithm
Dijkstra's shunting algorithm
is a method of generating reverse-Polish
notation from conventional infix notation.
We say that infix multiplication and division have a higher priority
than addition and subtraction.
The former bind more tightly to their operands than the latter.
a+b*c = a+(b*c) abc*+
Infix and reverse-Polish.
The shunting algorithm uses a stack of operators.
It is named after a way of visualising its operation
in terms of a small railway system.
Imagine a main-line with the input coming from the right and going to the
A siding is connected to the main-line by a triangle.
Such a triangle and siding can be used to turn a train around
by driving into the
siding and reversing out again on the other branch - LIFO.
Such triangles are used in real railway systems in the absence of a turn-table.
In fact operands go straight through on the main-line
but operators go onto the siding.
| Operator Stack
There is a rule that an operator of a given priority, such as `+',
may not sit in the siding/stack immediately above an operator of higher
or equal priority, such as `*'.
Therefore, the `*' must be popped onto the main-line before `+'
can be pushed onto the stack.
The c and d pass through on the main-line and the second `*' can be pushed
above the lower priority `+'.
. . +
| Operator Stack
At the end of input, those operators that are left on the stack are popped
to give the complete output
| Operator Stack
Parentheses have still be considered.
They are used to change the binding of infix operators to operands.
Parentheses isolate a subexpression.
The algorithm therefore treats the subexpression as a piece of sub-input.
eg. a*b+c*d = (a*b)+(c*d) != a*(b+c)*d
When an opening `(' is encountered,
it is pushed onto the stack and hides everything beneath.
A low priority operator, such as `+' can sit above `('
while it cannot sit directly above `*'.
| Operator Stack
The closing `)' is treated as the end of the subexpression
and pops any operators of the subexpression -
up to the opening `('.
Both parentheses are then discarded.
| + Operator Stack
The algorithm then continues as before until
the complete output
| Operator Stack
The basic shunting algorithm can easily be extended to check
that the input expression is syntactically correct.
- Modify the stack-by-list implementation to
free cells when they are popped.
- Implement the shunting algorithm in Turing.
- Modify the calculator program so that it uses the shunting algorithm to
let it do calculations given in infix notation.
- Use a stack to
convert the following procedure to non-recursive, iterative form:
where T is an arbitrary type,
p is an arbitrary predicate, a, b and c are arbitrary procedures
and f is an arbitrary function.
if p(x) then
- Convert quick sort from recursive to a non-recursive, iterative form.
To do this introduce a stack of (bounds of) array segments.
Initially push the (bounds of) the whole array onto the stack.
Repeatedly pop an array segment and,
if its size is bigger than 1, partition it
and push first the larger (why?) and then the smaller partition onto the stack.
Terminate when the stack is empty.
Write a pretty-printer for some programming language.
e.g. There are various "bracket structures" in Turing:
The pretty-printer should only adjust the indentation of lines;
it should not break lines.
Text within a bracket should be indented uniformly relative to the bracket.
If the closing bracket begins a line,
it should match the indentation of the opening bracket.
begin ... end
if ... then ... else ... end if
case ... label ... end case
loop ... end loop
for ... end for
record ... end record
union ... end union
procedure <ident> ... end <ident>
function <ident> ... end <ident>
module <ident> ... end <ident>
Use a stack of symbols to match opening and closing brackets.
Beware of forward procedure and function declarations
and of procedure and function parameters.
Keywords within comments and strings should not affect indentation.
Assume that the programs being pretty-printed are syntactically correct.
eg. |if ...
|end if ...
© L_Allison, 1984-86,
Department of Computer Science, U.W.A.,