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Art of Computer Programming, The: Volume 3: Sorting and Searching by Donald E. Knuth

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*5.4.6. Practical Considerations for Tape Merging

Now comes the nitty-gritty: We have discussed the various families of merge patterns, so it is time to see how they actually apply to real configurations of computers and magnetic tapes, and to compare them in a meaningful way. Our study of internal sorting showed that we can’t adequately judge the efficiency of a sorting method merely by counting the number of comparisons it performs; similarly we can’t properly evaluate an external sorting method by simply knowing the number of passes it makes over the data.

In this section we shall discuss the characteristics of typical tape units, and the way they affect initial distribution and merging. In particular we shall study some schemes for buffer ...

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