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A symbol is a string that is cached (or in fact, permanently stored in a hash table) inside PureData. It can also have some data attached to it. Symbols are a very important part of PureData since a lot of information (e.g. type info) is identified by using them.

The fact that a symbol is permanently resident has the following consequences: * In a PureData external symbol strings can be compared by comparing their pointer values, since there's only one copy in the system. This makes comparison much faster than comparing string characters. Data attached to a symbol won't get lost, since once a created, a symbol stays in the system. If many symbols are created (e.g. automatically in a patch), symbol lookup in the hash table will get slower - this can slow down the whole system as long as PureData is running.


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