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From Michael McCandless <>
Subject Re: Understanding lucene indexes and disk I/O
Date Tue, 13 Apr 2010 09:26:46 GMT
Hi Tom,

Fear not: we only scan up to 128 terms, to find the specific term.

First, the terms dict index (tii) is fully loaded into RAM, and then a
binary search is done on this (in-RAM) to find the nearest index term
just before the term you want.  Then, we seek to that spot in the
main terms dict (tis) file, and scan (at most 128 entries) to find the

On the frq/prx deltas: the tii holds absolute pointers.  So, on
seeking to that first spot in the tis, we know the absolute frq/prx
(long) offsets, and then during scanning we just add the deltas we
see to those base absolutes.

BTW, this approach sucks up alot of extra RAM (holding 2 longs = 16
bytes, per indexed term)... in flex (now committed to trunk) we've
improved this so that the tii entry does not hold these longs, and,
instead, every indexed term inside the tis file holds the absolute
pointer not the delta.  We also switched to parallel arrays, to avoid
the GC/object RAM overhead of one object per indexed term, and used
packed ints for some of these arrays.

Hmm though we also hold the terms characters as utf8 bytes, which may
net/net take more RAM for your case...

I would love to get ahold of your terms dict :)  I'd have a field day
testing Lucene against it... I'm very curious how the flex
improvements affect your usage.


On Mon, Apr 12, 2010 at 5:57 PM, Burton-West, Tom <> wrote:
> Hi all,
> Please let me know if this should be posted instead to the Lucene java-dev list.
> We have very large tis files (about 36 GB).  I have not been too concerned as I assumed
that due to the indexing of the tis file by the tii file, only a small portion of the file
needed to be read.  However, upon re-reading the Lucene Index File Formats document:
> I am now wondering whether most of the tis file may need to be read if a term is near
the end of the file.
> I'm trying to understand whether lucene has enough information stored in the *tii and
*tis files to determine what byte offset in the prx file to seek to in order to get the freq
or positions list for a particular term and whether a sequential read of the entire *tis file
up to the term being sought is needed in order to decode ProxDeltas and determint the byte
>  What has me confused is that the Lucene Index File Formats document says:
> "ProxDelta determines the position of this term's TermPositions within the .prx file.
In particular, it is the difference between the position of this term's data in that file
and the position of the previous term's data (or zero, for the first term in the file. For
fields with omitTf true, this will be 0 since prox information is not stored."
> I assumed that Lucene implements a binary search of the tii file, then reads the appropriate
128 (IndexDivisor) entries from the tis file and does a binary search on that.   (So that
should be one disk seek when the searcher starts up to read in the entire tii file and then
a second disk seek to load in the appropriate data for 128 terms from the tis file.  However,
once a term's entry in the tis file is found, if only the difference between this term and
the previous term's position in the prx file is stored, it seems that in order to get the
actual byte offset of a term in the prx file, all of the previous term's ProxDelta's  starting
at the first term in the file, would have to be read and added together.  If that is true
then we are talking a sequential read of the entire tis file up to the current term.
> Is this correct?   Can someone point me to the area of the code base where this is implemented
?   Am I missing something here?
> Tom Burton-West

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