Star Deltas


FSFS currently uses xdelta to store different version of the same node efficiently. Basically, we represent node x_i.gif as


and store x_0 plus the incremental \delta information. x_i.gif gets reconstructed by starting with x_0 and iteratively applying all deltas. Assuming that size(x_i) is roughly proportional to i and the deltas averaging around some constant value, this approach has the following properties:


with N being either the size of the node or the number of revisions to it. To mitigate the quadratic runtime behavior, we use skip-deltas:

skip_xdelta.gif with base_i.gif being next "rounder" binary

Since we skip intermediate representations, we will repeat the respective change information (approx .5 log N times). Storage size and reconstruction time are now


Please note that the actual implementation uses a hybrid scheme.

Observation. This approach does not cover forked node histories as they are common with branches and merges. The same change can be merged into many branches but may not result in the same node content (i.e. rep caching may not kick in). However, those changes themselves are very similar and often even identical.

A potential solution might be to deltify deltas, i.e. to use a second-order deltification scheme. Once that is done, even higher orders might be used. It is unclear how this could be implemented in a meaningful way. Also, its effectiveness depends heavily on the order in which branched deltas get processed.

Basic Ideas

We would like to be able to deltify everyting against else. delta_star.gif no longer considers individual pairs of texts but rather deltifies the text against all previously processed text. For each new string x_i.gif we only need to store those parts that could not be found in any of the previous strings plus a set of instructions how to combine those parts.


Note that only the last line adds to the already existing data.

Expected storage size, runtime size, writing and reconstruction speed should all be O(N).

Note. Deltification is only a means to storage size reduction. We do not attach any semantics to the deltification result. It is neither minimal nor related to "svn delta" and friends.

Data structure

The core data structure consists of two elements: the text buffer and the instructions array. The text buffer is a single byte array containing the various string fragments that will be combined to fulltexts according to the instructions. The latter is a single array of (offset, count) pairs. The offset may be prefixed (see below) but in its simpliest form, it will copy COUNT bytes from text buffer starting at text buffer offset OFFSET.

Since we want to store more than a single fulltext ("string"), another array will map the string index to the first instruction in the instructions array:

core data structure

Preliminary results

Test data set: first revisions of fs_fs.c

Data sizes:

Execution times:

When imported into an empty 1.8 repository:

StarDelta (last edited 2012-09-19 08:06:06 by StefanSperling)