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I had this experience when I was studying about Red-Black Trees. These are data structures made to make data access efficient. I'd argue that in such cases, it is important to limit the number of memory swaps and comparisons you make to keep the algorithm efficient.

But your argument does hold true when one is dealing with things like sorting or graph traversal algorithms. There the concepts are most important and you can do well without worrying about the low level details.

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