amortized cost


Definition: The theoretical speed of a given set of operations. It is O(f(n)) when the execution time of the worst case of all sequences of n operations never exceeds O(n*f(n)).

See also potential function, best-case cost, average-case cost, worst-case cost.

Note: The term "amortized worst case" is sometimes used to emphasize that the worst case of a set of operations is averaged.

Author: CLK

More information

R. E. Tarjan, Amortized computational complexity, SIAM Journal on Algebraic and Discrete Methods, 6(2):306-318, 1985.

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Entry modified 17 December 2004.
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Cite this as:
Chris L. Kuszmaul, "amortized cost", in Dictionary of Algorithms and Data Structures [online], Vreda Pieterse and Paul E. Black, eds. 17 December 2004. (accessed TODAY) Available from: