Filtering array vs plain list

Shari shari at
Fri Feb 1 17:36:40 EST 2008

I'm trying to determine the best way to store a humungous block of 
data for both speed and accessibility.

My original plan was to do an array something like this:

Item #2 is an identifier unique to each individual.  It will not be a 
number, but text + a number.

census[Atlanta,5489,name] = John
census[Atlanta,5489,religion] = Baptist
census[Atlanta,5489,birthYear] = 1976
census[Atlanta,5489,baseballTeam] = Braves
census[Atlanta,5489,eyeColor] = blue
census[Atlanta,9988,name] = Judy
census[Atlanta,9988,religion] = Mormon
census[Atlanta,9988,birthYear] = 1926
census[Atlanta,9988,baseballTeam] = Yankees
census[Atlanta,9988,eyeColor] = green
census[Chicago,3258,name] = Billy
census[Chicago,3258,religion] = Atheist
census[Chicago,3258,birthYear] = 1982
census[Chicago,3258,eyeColor] = blue
census[Chicago,3258,baseballTeam] = Red Sox

Alternately of course this could be a list with each line dedicated 
to the individual.

Each individual would have 300-400 different items and there will be 
thousands of individuals.

The data needs to be accessed very very quickly, which points to an 
array as above.  And most of the time very specific pieces of data 
will be accessed and updated.  And changes will be made constantly. 
So far, so good.

But here's the glitch.

I need to also be able to make global changes to the list, for 
example, update everybody whose baseball team is "Red Sox" and 
birthYear is 1950.  For example, change all instances of Red Sox to 
White Sox if the birthYear is 1950.

Is there any way short of looking inside each element of thousands of 
keys for the matching birthYear/baseballTeam?

This would presumably be very slow.  But if the array were a list 
with thousands and thousands of lines, each line having 300-400 
items, wouldn't that be slow to access as well?

What am I missing?

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