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Sorting hierarchical data in external memory is necessary for a wide variety of applications including archiving scientific data and dealing with large XML datasets. The topic of sorting hierarchical data, however, has received little attention from the research community so far. In this paper the authors focus on sorting arbitrary hierarchical data that far exceed the size of physical memory. They propose HERMES, an algorithm that generalizes the most widely-used techniques for sorting flat data in external memory. HERMES efficiently exploits the hierarchical structure to minimize the number of disk accesses and optimize the use of available memory.
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