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As file systems reach the peta-bytes scale, users and administrators are increasingly interested in acquiring high-level analytical information for file management and analysis. Two particularly important tasks are the processing of aggregate and top-k queries which, unfortunately, cannot be quickly answered by hierarchical file systems such as ext3 and NTFS. Existing pre-processing based solutions, e.g., file system crawling and index building, consume a significant amount of time and space (for generating and maintaining the indexes) which in many cases cannot be justified by the infrequent usage of such solutions. In this paper, the authors advocate that user interests can often be sufficiently satisfied by approximate - i.e., statistically accurate - answers.
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