Basic stand-alone disk-based N-way merge sort component for Java


This project implements basic disk-backed multi-way merge sort, with configurable input and output formats (i.e. not just textual sort). It should be useful for systems that process large amounts of data, as a simple building block for sort phases.


Checkout project wiki for more documentation, including Javadocs.


Library is licensed under Apache License 2.0.


Programmatic access

Main class to interact with is com.fasterxml.sort.Sorter, which needs to be constructed with four things:

  • Configuration settings (default SortConfig works fine)
  • DataReaderFactory which is used for creating readers for intermediate sort files (and input, if stream passed)
  • DataWriterFactory which is used for creating writers for intermediate sort files (and results, if stream passed)
  • Comparator for data items

An example of how this can be done can be found from com.fasterxml.sort.std.TextFileSorter. Basic implementations exist for line-based text input (in package com.fasterxml.sort.std), and additional implementations may be added: for example, a JSON data sorter could be implement as an extension module of Jackson. Fortunately implementing your own readers and writers is trivial.

With a Sorter instance, you can call one of two main sort methods:

public void sort(InputStream source, OutputStream destination)
public boolean sort(DataReader<T>  inputReader, DataWriter<T> resultWriter)

where former takes input as streams and uses configured reader/writer factories to construct DataReader for input and DataWriter for output; and latter just uses pre-constructed instances.

In addition to core sorting functionality, Sorter instance also gives access to progress information (it implements SortingState interface with accessor methods).

A very simple example of sorting a text file using line-by-line comparison is:

TextSorter sorter = new TextFileSorter(new SortConfig().withMaxMemoryUsage(20 * 1000 * 1000));
sorter.sort(new FileInputStream("input.txt"), new FileOutputStream("output.txt"));

which would read text from file "input.txt", sort using about 20 megs of heap (note: estimates for memory usage are rough), use temporary files if necessary (i.e. for small files it's just in-memoryu sort, for bigger real merge sort), and write output as file "output.txt".

Command-line utility

Project jar is packaged such that it can be used as a primitive 'sort' tool like so:

java -jar java-merge-sort-1.0.0.jar [input-file]

where sorted output gets printed to stdout; and argument is optional (if missing, reads input from stdout). (implementation note: this uses standard TextFileSorter mentioned above)

Format is assumed to be basic text lines, similar to unix sort, and sorting order basic byte sorting (which works for most common encodings).

More documentation

Here are some external links:

Getting involved

To access source, just clone project