Fast Set Intersection in Memory

Bolin Ding and Arnd Christian K├Ânig


Set intersection is a fundamental operation in information retrieval and database systems. This paper introduces linear space data structures to represent sets such that their intersection can be computed in a worst-case efficient way. In general, given k (preprocessed) sets, with totally n elements, we will show how to compute their intersection in expected time O(n / sqrt(w) + kr), where r is the intersection size and w is the number of bits in a machine-word. In addition,we introduce a very simple version of this algorithm that has weaker asymptotic guarantees but performs even better in practice; both algorithms outperform the state of the art techniques for both synthetic and real data sets and workloads.


Publication typeArticle
Published inProceedings of the VLDB Endowment, the 37th International Conference on Very Large Data Bases (VLDB 2011)
PublisherVery Large Data Bases Endowment Inc.
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