This chapter is mainly concerned with the way in which file structures are used in document retrieval.
Most surveys of file structures address themselves to applications in data management which is reflected in the terminology used to describe the basic concepts.
I shall (on the whole) follow Hsiao and Harary whose terminology is perhaps slightly non-standard but emphasises the logical nature of file structures.
A further advantage is that it enables me to bridge the gap between data management and document retrieval easily.
A few other good references on file structures are Roberts, Bertziss, Dodd, and Climenson.
Logical or physical organisation and data independence
There is one important distinction that must be made at the outset when discussing file structures.
And that is the difference between the logical and physical organisation of the data.
On the whole a file structure will specify the logical structure of the data, that is the relationships that will exist between data items independently of the way in which these relationships may actually be realised within any computer.
It is this logical aspect that we will concentrate on.
The physical organisation is much more concerned with optimising the use of the storage medium when a particular logical structure is stored on, or in it.
Typically for every unit of physical store there will be a number of units of the logical structure (probably records) to be stored in it.
For example, if we were to store a tree structure on a magnetic disk,the physical organisation would be concerned with the best way of