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Big Data Search, Part 3: Binary Search of Textual Data

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Big Data Search, Part 3: Binary Search of Textual Data

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The index I created for the exercise is just a text file, sorted by the indexed key. When doing a search by a human, that makes it very easy to work with. Much easier than trying to work with a binary file, it also helps debugging.

However, it does make it running a binary search on the data a bit harder. Mostly because there isn’t a nice way to say “give me the #th line”. Instead, I wrote the following:

 public void SetPositionToLineAt(long position)
 {
     // now we need to go back until we either get to the start of the file
     // or find a \n character
     const int bufferSize = 128;
     _buffer.Capacity = Math.Max(bufferSize, _buffer.Capacity);
  
     var charCount = _encoding.GetMaxCharCount(bufferSize);
     if (charCount > _charBuf.Length)
         _charBuf = new char[Utils.NearestPowerOfTwo(charCount)];
  
     while (true)
     {
         _input.Position = position - (position < bufferSize ? 0 : bufferSize);
         var read = ReadToBuffer(bufferSize);
         var buffer = _buffer.GetBuffer();
         var chars = _encoding.GetChars(buffer, 0, read, _charBuf, 0);
         for (int i = chars - 1; i >= 0; i--)
         {
             if (_charBuf[i] == '\n')
             {
                 _input.Position = position - (bufferSize - i) + 1;
                 return;
             }
         }
         position -= bufferSize;
         if (position < 0)
         {
             _input.Position = 0;
             return;
         }
     }
 }

This code starts at an arbitrary byte position, and go backward until it find the new line character ‘\n’. This give me the ability to go to a rough location and get the line oriented input.

Once I have that, the rest is pretty easy. Here is the binary search:

 while (lo <= hi)
 {
     position = (lo + hi) / 2;
     _reader.SetPositionToLineAt(position);
  
     bool? result;
     do
     {
         result = _reader.ReadOneLine();
     } while (result == null); // skip empty lines
  
     if (result == false)
         yield break; // couldn't find anything
  
     var entry = _reader.Current.Values[0];
     match = Utils.CompareArraySegments(expectedIndexEntry, entry);
 
     if (match == 0)
     {
         break;
     }
     if (match > 0)
         lo = position + _reader.Current.Values.Sum(x => x.Count) + 1;
     else
         hi = position - 1;
 }
  
 if (match != 0)
 {
     // no match
     yield break;
 }

The idea is that this positions us on the location of the index that has an entry with a value that is equal to what we are searched on.

We then write the following to actually get the data from the actual data file:

 // we have a match, now we need to return all the matches
 _reader.SetPositionToLineAt(position);
  
 while(true)
 {
     bool? result;
     do
     {
         result = _reader.ReadOneLine();
     } while (result == null); // skip empty lines
  
     if(result == false)
         yield break; // end of file
  
     var entry = _reader.Current.Values[0];
     match = Utils.CompareArraySegments(expectedIndexEntry, entry);
     if (match != 0)
         yield break; // out of the valid range we need
  
     _buffer.SetLength(0);
     _data.Position = Utils.ToInt64(_reader.Current.Values[1]);
  
     while (true)
     {
         var b = _data.ReadByte();
         if (b == -1)
             break;
         if (b == '\n')
         {
             break;
         }
         _buffer.WriteByte((byte)b);
     }
  
     yield return _encoding.GetString(_buffer.GetBuffer(), 0, (int)_buffer.Length);
 }

As you can see, we are moving forward in the index file, reading one line at a time. Then we take the second value, the position of the relevant line in the data file, and read that.

We continue to do so as long as the indexed value is the same. Pretty simple, all told. But it comes with its own set of problems. I’ll discuss that in my next post.


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Published at DZone with permission of Oren Eini, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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