# Efficient storage of data in memory¶

When dealing with big data, minimizing the amount of memory used is critical to avoid having to use disk-based access, which can be 100,000 times slower than random access. This notebook deals with ways to minimizee data storage for several common use cases:

- Large arrays of homogenous data (often numbers)
- Large string collections
- Counting distinct values
- Yes/No responses to queries

Methods covered range from the mundane (use `numpy`

arrays rather than
lists), to classic but less well-known data structures (e.g. prefix
trees or tries) to algorithmically ingenious probabilistic data
structures (e.g. bloom filter and hyperloglog).

## Selective retrieval from disk-based storage¶

We have alrady seen that there are many ways to retrieve only the parts of the data we need now into memory at this particular moment. Options include

- generators (e.g. to read a file a line at a time)
`numpy.memmap`

- HDF5 via
`h5py`

- Key-value stores (e.g.
`redis`

) - SQL and NoSQL databases (e.g.
`sqlite3`

)

## Storing numbers¶

Less memory is used when storing numbers in numpy arrays rather than lists.

```
sys.getsizeof(list(range(int(1e8))))
```

```
900000112
```

```
np.arange(int(1e8)).nbytes
```

```
800000000
```

### Using only the precision needed can also save memory¶

```
np.arange(int(1e8)).astype('float32').nbytes
```

```
400000000
```

```
np.arange(int(1e8)).astype('float64').nbytes
```

```
800000000
```

## Storing strings¶

```
def flatmap(func, items):
return it.chain.from_iterable(map(func, items))
```

```
def flatten(xss):
return (x for xs in xss for x in xs)
```

```
with open('data/Ulysses.txt') as f:
word_list = list(flatten(line.split() for line in f))
```

```
sys.getsizeof(word_list)
```

```
2258048
```

```
target = 'WARRANTIES'
```

```
%timeit -r1 -n1 word_list.index(target)
```

```
1 loops, best of 1: 7.97 ms per loop
```

```
word_list.sort()
```

```
import bisect
%timeit -r1 -n1 bisect.bisect(word_list, target)
```

```
1 loops, best of 1: 31.8 µs per loop
```

```
word_set = set(word_list)
```

```
sys.getsizeof(word_set)
```

```
2097376
```

```
%timeit -r1 -n1 target in word_set
```

```
1 loops, best of 1: 2.25 µs per loop
```

```
! pip install hat_trie
```

```
%load_ext memory_profiler
```

```
from hat_trie import Trie
```

```
%memit word_trie = Trie(word_list)
```

```
peak memory: 116.97 MiB, increment: 0.39 MiB
```

```
%timeit -r1 -n1 target in word_trie
```

```
1 loops, best of 1: 5.86 µs per loop
```

## Data Sketches¶

A `sketch`

is a probabilistic algorithm or data structure that
approximates some statistic of interest, typically using very little
memory and processing time. Often they are applied to streaming data,
and so must be able to incrementally process data. Many data sketches
make use of hash functions to distribute data into buckets uniformly.
Typically, data sketches have the following desirable properties

- sub-linear in space
- single scan
- can be parallelized
- can be combined (merge)

Some statistics that sketches have been used to estimate include

- indicator variables (event detection)
- counts
- quantiles
- moments
- entropy

Packages for data sketches in Python are relatively immmature, and if you are interested, you could make a large contribution by creating a comprehensive open source library of data sketches in Python.

The Morris counter is used as a simple illustration of a probabilistic
data structure, with the standard trade-off of using less memory in
return for less accuracy. The algorithm is extremely simple - keep a
counter \(c\) that represents the **exponent** - that is, when the
Morris counter is \(c\), the estimated count is \(2^c\). The
probabilistic part comes from the way that the counter is incremented by
comparing a uniform random variate to \(1/2^c\).

```
from random import random
class MorrisCounter:
def __init__(self, c=0):
self.c = c
def __len__(self):
return 2 ** self.c
def add(self, item):
self.c += random() < 1/(2**self.c)
```

```
mc = MorrisCounter()
```

```
print('True\t\tMorris\t\tRel Error')
for i, word in enumerate(word_list):
mc.add(word)
if i%int(.2e5)==0:
print('%8d\t%8d\t%.2f' % (i, len(mc), 0 if i==0 else abs(i - len(mc))/i))
```

```
True Morris Rel Error
0 2 0.00
20000 8192 0.59
40000 32768 0.18
60000 65536 0.09
80000 65536 0.18
100000 131072 0.31
120000 131072 0.09
140000 131072 0.06
160000 131072 0.18
180000 131072 0.27
200000 131072 0.34
220000 262144 0.19
240000 262144 0.09
260000 524288 1.02
```

A simple way to increase the accuracy is to have multiple Morris counters and take the average. These two ideas of using a probabilistic calculation and multiple samples to improve precision are the basis for the more useful probabilisitc data structures described below.

```
mcs = [MorrisCounter() for i in range(10)]
```

```
print('True\t\tMorris\t\tRel Error')
for i, word in enumerate(word_list):
for j in range(10):
mcs[j].add(word)
estimate = np.mean([len(m) for m in mcs])
if i%int(.2e5)==0:
print('%8d\t%8d\t%.2f' % (i, estimate, 0 if i==0 else abs(i - estimate)/i))
```

```
True Morris Rel Error
0 2 0.00
20000 20889 0.04
40000 26214 0.34
60000 36044 0.40
80000 49152 0.39
100000 72089 0.28
120000 75366 0.37
140000 95027 0.32
160000 111411 0.30
180000 131072 0.27
200000 137625 0.31
220000 137625 0.37
240000 144179 0.40
260000 170393 0.34
```

The Morris counter is less useful because the degree of memory saved as
compared to counting the number of elements exactly is not much unless
the numbers are staggeringly huge. In contrast, counting the number of
**distinct** elements exactly requires storage of all distinct elements
(e.g. in a set) and hence grows with the cardinality \(n\).
Probabilistic data structures known as Distinct Value Sketches can do
this with a tiny and fixed memory size.

Examples where counting distinct values is useful:

- number of unique users in a Twitter stream
- number of distinct records to be fetched by a databse query
- number of unique IP addresses accessing a website
- number of distinct queries submitted to a search engine
- number of distinct DNA motifs in genomics data sets (e.g. microbiome)

A hash function takes data of arbitrary size and converts it into a number in a fixed range. Ideally, given an arbitrary set of data items, the hash function generates numbers that follow a uniform distribution within the fixed range. Hash functions are immensely useful throughout computer science (for example - they power Python sets and dictionaries), and especially for the generation of probabilistic data structures.

### A simple hash function mapping¶

Note the **collisions**. If not handled, there is a loss of information.
Commonly, practical hash functions return a 32 or 64 bit integer. Also
note that there are an arbitrary number of hash functions that can
return numbers within a given range.

Note also that because the hash function is deterministic, the same item will always map to the same bin.

```
def string_hash(word, n):
return sum(ord(char) for char in word) % n
```

```
sentence = "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog."
for word in sentence.split():
print(word, string_hash(word, 10))
```

```
The 9
quick 1
brown 2
fox 3
jumps 9
over 4
the 1
lazy 8
dog. 0
```

### Built-in Python hash function¶

```
help(hash)
```

```
Help on built-in function hash in module builtins:
hash(obj, /)
Return the hash value for the given object.
Two objects that compare equal must also have the same hash value, but the
reverse is not necessarily true.
```

```
for word in sentence.split():
print('{:<10s} {:24}'.format(word, hash(word)))
```

```
The -184990475008303844
quick 3616884800889772302
brown 6377133929055916905
fox -611579958660588990
jumps -5271806623556898369
over 7546130948312823661
the 6678103606492090842
lazy -1515512778017190090
dog. 3069897472948403276
```

### Using a hash function from the MurmurHash3 library¶

Note that the hash function accepts a seed, allowing the creation of multiple hash functions. We also display the hash result as a 32-bit binary string.

```
import mmh3
for word in sentence.split():
print('{:<10} {:+032b} {:+032b}'.format(word.ljust(10), mmh3.hash(word, seed=1234),
mmh3.hash(word, seed=4321)))
```

```
The +0001000011111110001001110101100 +1110110100100101010111100011010
quick -0101111111011110110101100101000 +1000100001101010110000101101100
brown +1000101010000110110010001110101 -1101101110000000010001100010100
fox -1000000010010010000111001111011 +0111011111000011001001001110111
jumps +0000010111000011010000100101010 +0010010001111110100010010110011
over -0110101101111001001101011111011 -1101110111110010000101101000100
the -1000000101110000000110011111001 +0001000111100111011000011100101
lazy -1101011000111111110011111001100 +0010101110101100001000101110000
dog. +0100110101101111101011110111111 -0101111000110000001011110001011
```

### LogLog family¶

The binary digits in a (say) 32-bit hash are effectively random, and equivalent to a sequence of fair coin tosses. Hence the probability that we see a run of 5 zeros in the smallest hash so far suggests that we have added \(2^5\) unique items so far. This is the intuition behind the loglog family of Distinct Value Sketches. Note that the biggest count we can track with 32 bits is \(2^{32} = 4294967296\).

The accuracy of the sketch can be improved by averaging results with multiple coin flippers. In practice, this is done by using the first \(k\) bit registers to identify \(2^k\) different coin flippers. Hence, the max count is now \(2 ** (32 - k)\). The hyperloglog algorithm uses the harmonic mean of the \(2^k\) flippers which reduces the effect of outliers and hence the variance of the estimate.

```
for i in range(1, 15):
k = 2**i
hashes = [''.join(map(str, np.random.randint(0,2,32))) for i in range(k)]
print('%6d\t%s' % (k, min(hashes)))
```

```
2 00010001101110111100011011110100
4 00001111000110101110111110111011
8 00011100101100110010101100011110
16 01000001100111101011001100101001
32 00001011000101110101000110101010
64 00000000110100000010001101011101
128 00000000100101100011100101100111
256 00000000001101010111001001101010
512 00000000001001011011001100001100
1024 00000000001010000100011000011011
2048 00000000010100111100001101001100
4096 00000000000000110001101010011100
8192 00000000000000001100110110000101
16384 00000000000000001101011110101001
```

```
pip install hyperloglog
```

```
from hyperloglog import HyperLogLog
```

```
hll = HyperLogLog(0.01) # accept 1% counting error
```

```
print('True\t\tHLL\t\tRel Error')
s = set([])
for i, word in enumerate(word_list):
s.add(word)
hll.add(word)
if i%int(.2e5)==0:
print('%8d\t%8d\t\t%.2f' % (len(s), len(h1), 0 if i==0 else abs(len(s) - len(h1))/i))
```

```
True HLL Rel Error
```

```
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
NameError Traceback (most recent call last)
<ipython-input-1-22150e0b1002> in <module>()
1 print('True\t\tHLL\t\tRel Error')
2 s = set([])
----> 3 for i, word in enumerate(word_list):
4 s.add(word)
5 hll.add(word)
NameError: name 'word_list' is not defined
```

#### Bloom filters¶

Bloom filters are designed to answer queries about whether a specific item is in a collection. If the answer is NO, then it is definitive. However, if the answer is yes, it might be a false positive. The possibility of a false positive makes the Bloom filter a probabilistic data structure.

A bloom filter consists of a bit vector of length \(k\) initially set to zero, and \(n\) different hash functions that return a hash value that will fall into one of the \(k\) bins. In the construction phase, for every item in the collection, \(n\) hash values are generated by the \(n\) hash functions, and every position indicated by a hash value is flipped to one. In the query phase, given an item, \(n\) hash values are calculated as before - if any of these \(n\) positions is a zero, then the item is definitely not in the collection. However, because of the possibility of hash collisions, even if all the positions are one, this could be a false positive. Clearly, the rate of false positives depends on the ratio of zero and one bits, and there are Bloom filter implementations that will dynamically bound the ratio and hence the false positive rate.

Possible uses of a Bloom filter include:

- Does a particular sequence motif appear in a DNA string?
- Has this book been recommended to this customer before?
- Check if an element exists on disk before performing I/O
- Check if URL is a potential malware site using in-browser Bloom filter to minimize network communication
- As an alternative way to generate distinct value counts cheaply (only increment count if Bloom filter says NO)

```
pip install git+https://github.com/jaybaird/python-bloomfilter.git
```

```
from pybloom import ScalableBloomFilter
# The Scalable Bloom Filter grows as needed to keep the error rate small
# The default error_rate=0.001
sbf = ScalableBloomFilter()
```

```
for word in word_set:
sbf.add(word)
```

```
test_words = ['banana', 'artist', 'Dublin', 'masochist', 'Obama']
```

```
for word in test_words:
print(word, word in sbf)
```

```
banana True
artist True
Dublin True
masochist False
Obama False
```

```
### Chedck
for word in test_words:
print(word, word in word_set)
```

```
banana True
artist True
Dublin True
masochist False
Obama False
```

```
%load_ext version_information
```

```
%version_information pybloom, hyperloglog, hat_trie
```

Software | Version |
---|---|

Python | 3.5.1 64bit [GCC 4.2.1 (Apple Inc. build 5577)] |

IPython | 4.0.3 |

OS | Darwin 15.4.0 x86_64 i386 64bit |

pybloom | 2.0.0 |

hyperloglog | 0.0.10 |

hat_trie | 0.3 |

Thu Apr 14 16:01:59 2016 EDT |