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From Bryan Dotzour <>
Subject RE: Memory usage: IndexSearcher & Sort
Date Wed, 29 Sep 2004 16:00:49 GMT
Thanks very much for the reply Otis.  Your code snippet is pretty
interesting and made me think about a few questions. 

1.  Do you just have one IndexReader for a given index?  It looks like you
are handing out a new IndexSearcher when the IndexReader has been modified.

2.  How does this approach work with multiple, simultaneous users?
3.  When does the reader need to get closed?

Thanks again.  

-----Original Message-----
From: Otis Gospodnetic [] 
Sent: Wednesday, September 29, 2004 8:47 AM
To: Lucene Users List
Subject: Re: Memory usage: IndexSearcher & Sort


--- Bryan Dotzour <> wrote:

> I have been investigating a serious memory problem in our web app 
> (using Tapestry, Hibernate, & Lucene) and have reduced it to being the 
> way in which
> we are using Lucene to search on things.  Being a webapp, we have
> focused on
> doing our work within a user's request.  So we basically end up
> opening at
> least one new IndexSearcher on each individual page view.  In one
> particular
> case, we were doing this in a loop, eventually opening ~20-~40
> IndexSearchers which caused our memory usage to skyrocket.  After
> viewing
> that one page 3 or 4 times we would exhaust the server's memory
> allocation.
> Most helpful in this search was the following thread from Bugzilla:
> <>
> From this thread, it sounds like constantly opening and closing 
> IndexSearcher objects is a "BAD THING", but it is exactly what we are 
> doing in our app.
> There are a few things that puzzle me and I'd love it if anyone has
> some
> input that might clear up some of these questions.
> 1.  According to the Bugzilla thread, and from my own testing, you can 
> open lots of IndexSearchers in a loop and do a search WITHOUT SORTING 
> and not
> have this memory problem.  Is there an issue with the Sort code?

Yes, there is a memory leak in Sort code.  A kind person from Poland
contributed a patch earlier today.  It's not in CVS yet.

> 2.  Can anyone give a brief, technical explanation as to why opening 
> multiple IndexSearcher objects is bad?

Very simple.  A Lucene index consists of X number of files that reside on a
disk.  Every time you open a new IndexSearcher, some of these files need to
be read.  If files do not change (no documents added/removed), why do this
repetitive work?  Just do it once.  When these files are read, some data is
stored in memory.  If you read them multiple times, you will store the same
data in memory multiple times.

> 3.  Certainly some of you on this list are using Lucene in a web-app 
> environment.  Can anyone list some best practices on managing 
> reading/writing/searching a Lucene index in that context?

I use something like this for and it works well for

    private IndexDescriptor getIndexDescriptor(String indexID)
        throws SearcherException
        File indexDir = validateIndex(indexID);
        IndexDescriptor indexDescriptor =

            // if this is a known index
            if (indexDescriptor != null)
                // if the index has changed since this Searcher was created,
make a new Searcher
                long currentVersion =
                if (currentVersion > indexDescriptor.lastKnownVersion)
                    indexDescriptor.lastKnownVersion = currentVersion;
                    indexDescriptor.searcher = new
            // if this is a new index
                indexDescriptor = new IndexDescriptor();
                indexDescriptor.indexDir = indexDir;
                indexDescriptor.lastKnownVersion =
                indexDescriptor.searcher = new LuceneUserSearcher(indexDir);
            return cacheIndexDescriptor(indexDescriptor);
        catch (IOException e)
            throw new SearcherException("Cannot open index: " + indexDir,

IndexDescriptor is a simple 'struct' with everything public (not good
practise, you should change that):

final class IndexDescriptor
    public File indexDir;
    public long lastKnownVersion;
    public Searcher searcher;

    public String toString()
        return IndexDescriptor.class.getName() + ": index directory: "
+ indexDir.getAbsolutePath()
            + ", last known version: " + lastKnownVersion + ",
searcher: " + searcher;

These two things combined allow me to re-open an IndexSearcher when the
index changes, and re-use the same IndexSearcher while the index remains
unmodified.  Of course, that LuceneUserSearcher could be Lucene's
IndexSearcher, probably.

Otis -- Index, Search and Share your bookmarks

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