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In computer science, locality of reference, also known as the principle of locality, is the tendency of a processor to access the same set of memory locations repetitively over a short period of time. There are two basic types of reference locality – temporal and spatial locality. Temporal locality refers to the reuse of specific data and/or resources within a relatively small time duration. Spatial locality (also termed data locality) refers to the use of data elements within relatively close storage locations. Sequential locality, a special case of spatial locality, occurs when data elements are arranged and accessed linearly, such as traversing the elements in a one-dimensional array.
Locality is a type of predictable behavior that occurs in computer systems. Systems that exhibit strong locality of reference are great candidates for performance optimization through the use of techniques such as the caching, prefetching for memory and advanced branch predictors at the pipelining stage of a processor core.