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Tech Note: Scanning Text and BLOBs Efficiently or Testing Performance Meaningfully
Published On: December 22, 2005

Many programming tasks require scanning the contents of a string, text block, or BLOB character-by-character or byte-by-byte. For example, implementing casesensitive string comparisons, many custom parsers, and comparing pictures, BLOBs, or documents may require sequentially scanning large blocks of data. The optimal method for sequentially scanning text and BLOBs is a subject programmers can
debate passionately, given their various biases, experiences, goals and values. Such debates remain exchanges of opinion unless real and repeatable test results can be brought into the conversation. This technical note includes a sample database that generates tests results for several different approaches to scanning text and blobs. While finding optimal approaches to scanning is the purpose of the test system, it is only one of the aims of this technical note. The other objective is to illustrate how test results can be either helpful or dangerously misleading, depending on their design, execution, and application.

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