ERA: Efficient serial and parallel suffix tree construction for very long strings

Essam Mansour, Amin Allam, Spiros G. Skiadopoulos, Panos Kalnis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The suffix tree is a data structure for indexing strings. It is used in a variety of applications such as bioinformatics, time series analysis, clustering, text editing and data compression. However, when the string and the resulting suffix tree are too large to fit into the main memory, most existing construction algorithms become very inefficient. This paper presents a disk-based suffix tree construction method, called Elastic Range (ERa), which works efficiently with very long strings that are much larger than the available memory. ERa partitions the tree construction process horizontally and vertically and minimizes I/Os by dynamically adjusting the horizontal partitions independently for each vertical partition, based on the evolving shape of the tree and the available memory. Where appropriate, ERa also groups vertical partitions together to amortize the I/O cost. We developed a serial version; a parallel version for shared-memory and shared-disk multi-core systems; and a parallel version for shared-nothing architectures. ERa indexes the entire human genome in 19 minutes on an ordinary desktop computer. For comparison, the fastest existing method needs 15 minutes using 1024 CPUs on an IBM BlueGene supercomputer.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-60
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of the VLDB Endowment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2011


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