Engineering a textbook approach to index massive string dictionaries


We study the problem of engineering space-time efficient indexes that support membership and lexicographic (rank) queries on very large static dictionaries of strings. Our solution is based on a very simple approach that consists of decoupling string storage and string indexing by means of a blockwise compression of the sorted dictionary strings (to be stored in external memory) and a succinct implementation of a Patricia trie (to be stored in internal memory) built on the first string of each block. Our experimental evaluation on two new datasets, which are at least one order of magnitude larger than the ones used in the literature, shows that (i) the state-of-the-art compressed string dictionaries (such as FST, PDT, CoCo-trie) do not provide significant benefits if used in an indexing setting compared to Patricia tries, and (ii) our two-level approach enables the indexing of 3.5 billion strings taking 273 GB in less than 200 MB of internal memory, which is available on any commodity machine, while still guaranteeing comparable or faster query performance than those offered by array-based solutions used in modern storage systems, such as RocksDB, thus possibly influencing their future designs.

Proceedings of the 30th International Symposium on String Processing and Information Retrieval (SPIRE)
Paolo Ferragina
Full professor

Professor of Algorithms and PI of the project

Giorgio Vinciguerra

Postdoc in Computer Science