Friday, April 11, 2008

What is garbage collection?

Suppose some memory space becomes reusable because a node is released from a linked list. Hence, we want the space to be available for future use. One way to bring this about is to immediately reinsert the space into the free-storage list. However, this method may be too time-consuming for the operating system. The operating system may periodically collect all the deleted space onto the free-storage list. The technique that does this collection is called Garbage Collection. Garbage Collection usually takes place in two steps: First the Garbage Collector runs through all lists, tagging whose cells are currently in use, and then it runs through the memory, collecting all untagged space onto the free-storage list. The Garbage Collection may take place when there is only some minimum amount of space or no space at all left in the free-storage list, or when the CPU is idle and has time to do the collection. Generally speaking, the Garbage Collection is invisible to the programmer.

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