Set::SegmentTree - Immutable segment trees with flatbuffers in perl


  use Set::SegmentTree;
  my $builder = Set::SegmentTree::Builder->new(@segment_list);
  $builder->insert([ segment_name, start, end ], [ ... ]);
  my $newtree = $builder->build();
  my @segments = $newtree->find($value);
  $newtree->serialize( $filename );

  my $savedtree = Set::SegmentTree->from_file( $filename );
  my @segments = $savedtree->find($value);


wat? Segment Tree

A Segment tree is an immutable tree structure used to efficiently resolve a value to the set of segments which encompass it.


You have a large set of value intervals (like time segments!) and need to match them against a single value (like a time) efficiently.

This solution is suitable for problems where the set of intervals is known in advance of the queries, and the tree needs to be loaded and queried efficiently many orders of magnitude more often than the set of intervals is updated.

Data structure:

A segment is like this: [ Segment Label, Start Value , End Value ]

Start Value and End Values Must be numeric.

Start Value Must be less than End Value

Segment Identity Must occur exactly once

The speed of Set::SegmentTree depends on not being concerned with additional segment relevant data, so it is expected one would use the identity to refer into whatever persistence retains additional information about the segment.

Use walkthrough

 my @segments = (['A',1,5],['B',2,3],['C',3,8],['D',10,15]);

This defines four intervals which both do and don't overlap - A - 1 to 5 - B - 2 to 3 - C - 3 to 8 - D - 10 to 15

Doing a find within the resulting tree

 my $tree = Set::SegmentTree::Builder->new(@segments)->build

Would make these tests pass

 is_deeply [$tree->find(0)], [];
 is_deeply [$tree->find(1)], [qw/A/];
 is_deeply [$tree->find(2)], [qw/A B/];
 is_deeply [$tree->find(3)], [qw/A B C/];
 is_deeply [$tree->find(4)], [qw/A C/];
 is_deeply [$tree->find(6)], [qw/C/];
 is_deeply [$tree->find(9)], [];
 is_deeply [$tree->find(12)], [qw/D/];

And although this structure is relatively expensive to build, it can be saved efficiently,

 my $builder = Set::SegmentTree::Builder->new(@segments);

and then loaded and queried extremely quickly, making this pass in only milliseconds.

 my $tree = Set::SegmentTree->from_file('filename');
 is_deeply [$tree->find(3)], [qw/A B C/];

This structure is useful in the use case where...

1) value segment intersection is important 1) performance of loading and lookup is critical, but building is not

The Segment Tree data structure allows you to resolve any single value to the list of segments which encompass it in O(log(n)+nk)


Building Trees i=identity v=value L=low H=high

1) take the list of endpoints aL, aH, bL, bH 1) sort the endpoints aL, bL, aH, bH 1) expand to elementary aL->aL, aL->bL, bL->bL, bL->aH, aH->aH, aH->bH, bH->bH 1) create binary tree from this { Vmin, Vmax, ->low, ->high, @segments } 1) populate segments on leaf nodes with the identities they relate to (see below) 1) load into a google flatbuffer table

Each leaf node spans only one of the elementary segments, and has a list of all of the segments which matching values within its range.

  Many are super familiar with how to build trees, but being new to
  me I document my notes here.

  When handling elementary indexes 10 through 14, this math
  to spliting into tree 

  10, 14 => int((14-10)/2)+10 = int(4/2)+10 = 2+10 = <10, 12, 14>
                           <10L, 14H>
              <10L, 12H  >                  <12L, 14H>
        <10L, 11H>    <12L, @S, 12H>    <12L, 13H>     <14L, @S, 14H>
  <10L, @S, 10H> <11L, @S, 11H>  <12L, @S, 12H> <13L, @S, 13H>

  10 to 13 has an even number and looks like this.

  10, 13 => int((13-10)/2)+10 = int(3/2)+10 = 1+10 = <10, 11, 13>
                     <10L, 13H>
            <10L, 11H>              <12L, 12H, 13H>
  <10L, @S, 10H> <11L, @S, 11H> <12L, @S , 12H> <13L, @S , 13H>

  10 to 12 goes  this way

  10, 12 => int((12-10)/2)+10 = int(2/2)+10 = 1+10 = <10, 11, 12>
                          <10L, 12H>
            <10L, 11H>                   <12L, 12H>
  <10L, @S, 10H> <11L, @S, 11H>                  <12L, @S, 12H>

  only two left

  10, 11 => int((11-10)/2)+10 = int(1/2)+10 = 0+10 = <10, 10, 11>
                     <10L, 11H>
                               <11L, 12H>
                         <11L, @S, 11H>  <12L, @S, 12H>

  Just one node

  10, 10 => int((10-10)/2)+10 = int(0/2)+10 = 0+10 = <10, 10 , 11>
                     <10, @S, 10>

Populating segments

The way this works is that after I had constructed the tree, I made a loop that finds the leaf nodes. (they have undefined low/high pointers). For each of the leaf nodes I filtered the original segment list (pre-expansion so fairly short, and includes the identities), comparing the values of that leaf node to see if its numbers were inside the range that segment addressed. After filtering, I just mapped them to their identity value.

  foreach my $node (grep { is_leaf? } $self->allnodes) {
    $node->{segments} = map { to_identity }
      grep { leafnode_within_segment? } @segments

where k = number of segments where j = number of distinct elementary segments (>k*2) This O(sqrt(j)+j*k) algorithm is probably responsible for most of the build time, but without it the tree is useless.

Seeking segments

As you probably know seeking in a binary tree is O(log(n)) complexity.

Given an value and a root node, yield the segments by:

Given to match a value, node 1) start with the identity set of the current node (noop unless leaf) 2) union the identity sets of the matching subnodes 3) return the set

identity sets of the matching subnodes 1) start with the list of possible directions (low, high) 1) map to a list of subnodes (->low, ->high) 1) ignore any that are undefined (leaf node condition, no infinite recursion) 1) filter nodes on min <= value and value <= max 1) recursively match with value, node


  stub to throw an errow to alert this isn't your typical object
  parameter - filename

  Readies your Set::SegmentTree by memory mapping the file specified
  and returning a new Set::SegmentTree object.
  parameter - flatbuffer serialization

  Readies your Set::SegmentTree by using the data passed
  and returning a new Set::SegmentTree object.
  parameter - value to find segments that intersect

  returns list of segment identifiers
  parameter - offset into the underlying array we want the table entry for

  internal function - data structure dereferencer
  parameter - value to find segments that intersect
  parameter - node under which to search

  internal function - recursive tree iterator


extensive logging if you construct with option { verbose => 1 }


Written to require very little configuration or environment

Reacts to no environment variables.






A system with variant endian maybe?


Analysis at this early date indicates my vm with 1 3ghz cpu on ubuntu linux is capable of consistently surpassing 1000 lookups per second from a memory mapped file. Initializing the file into memory map takes no measurable time beyond file system overhead.

Lookup performance from a native perl memory array is almost twice as fast.

My vm with a quota of 1 3ghz cpu takes over 30 seconds to construct a segment tree consisting of 1000 root segments with a heavy degree of overlapping. I suspect that this performance is adequate to my use cases.

I suspect that converting the code to be compiled rather than pure perl could increase performance. Also, my inefficient algorithm for populating identities into leaf nodes possibly could be improved.


My Replay project has a use case for rapidly looking up intersection of an instant with a series of business rules which are configured with an effective from and to date. Any of the configuration states which are created over time result in a segment tree for lookup. Any of those states may be active, so being able to retrieve and query them efficiently is critical. This is part of the Mapper component's ability to determine which configured rules will be relevant to any particular incoming event.

Collaborators welcome.


Google Flatbuffers


Doesn't tell you if you matched the endpoint of a segment, but it could.

Doesn't error check the integrity of a segment for numericity or order

Only works with FlatBuffers for serialization

Subject the limitations of Data::FlatTables

Only stores keys for you to use to index into other structures I like uuids for that.

The values for ranging are evaluated in numeric context, so using non-numerics probably won't work


Copyright (C) 2017 by David Ihnen

This library is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself, either Perl version 5.22.1 or, at your option, any later version of Perl 5 you may have available.




David Ihnen, <>