MAKE-FAST-ALIST

(make-fast-alist alist) creates a fast-alist from the input alist, returning alist itself or, in some cases, a new object equal to it.
Major Section:  HONS-AND-MEMOIZATION

Note: it is often better to use with-fast-alist; see the distributed book books/centaur/misc/hons-extra.lisp for more information.

Logically, make-fast-alist is the identity function.

Under the hood, we construct and return an object that is equal to alist and which is a fast alist. If alist is already a fast alist, almost no work is required: we simply return it unchanged.

When alist is not fast, we must minimally construct a hash table for its bindings. It is often possible to bind this new hash table to alist itself. But in certain cases when the alist keys are not normed, a new alist must be constructed, also, and so we may return an equal but not eq alist. (In these cases, we still try to avoid at least some consing by reusing the "longest normed tail" of the alist.)