aq_ord: In-memory record sort

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aq_ord [-h] Global_Opt Input_Spec Sort_Spec Output_Spec

     [-verb] [-stat]

     [-f[,AtrLst] File [File ...]] [-d ColSpec [ColSpec ...]]

     -sort[,AtrLst] ColName [ColName ...]

     [-blk NumRec FilPrefix] [-o[,AtrLst] File] [-c ColName [ColName ...]] |
     [-blk_only NumRec FilPrefix]


aq_ord sorts input records according to the value of the sort columns. Sort is done in memory, so it is fast. The program offers three sort modes:

  1. All at once sort
    In this mode, the sort is done by loading the entire data set into memory. This is the default sort mode. The requirement for this mode is:

    • There is enough memory to handle the entire data sets (plus overhead).
  2. Block sort
    Data is sorted in blocks of a given number of records. The blocks are first saved to files, then loaded and merged to produce the final result. The requirements for this mode are:

    • There is enough memory to handle at least a single block (plus overhead).
    • There is enough disk space to store all the intermediate block results.
  3. Merge only
    This will merge the input files/streams into a single output. The inputs must already be sorted in the same order as desired for the output. There is no memory requirement in this mode regardless of the data size, This support can be used to implement parallel sorts on large data sets over multiple machines.


Verbose – print program progress to stderr while processing. Usually, a marker is printed for each 10,000,000 records processed.

Print a record count summary line to stderr at the end of processing. The line has the form:

aq_ord: rec=Count err=Count

-f[,AtrLst] File [File …]
Set the input attributes and files. See the aq_tool input specifications manual for details.


$ aq_ord ... -f,+1l file1 file2 ...
  • Skip the first line from both files before loading.

-d ColSpec [ColSpec …]
Optionally define the input data columns. See the aq_tool input specifications manual for details. In general, ColSpec has the form Type[,AtrLst]:ColName. Supported Types are:

  • S – String.
  • F – Double precision floating point.
  • L – 64-bit unsigned integer.
  • LS – 64-bit signed integer.
  • I – 32-bit unsigned integer.
  • IS – 32-bit signed integer.
  • IP – v4/v6 address.

Optional AtrLst is a comma separated list of column specific attributes. ColName is the column name (case insensitive). It can contain up to 31 alphanumeric and ‘_’ characters. Its first character cannot be a digit.


$ aq_ord ... -d s:Col1 s,lo:Col2 i,trm:Col3 ...
  • Col1 is a string. Col2 is also a string, but the input value will be converted to lower case. Col3 is an unsigned integer, the trm attribute removes blanks around the value before it is converted to an internal number.

-sort[,AtrLst] ColName [ColName …]
Define the sort column(s). ColNames must already be defined under -d. Optional AtrLst is a comma separated list containing:

  • ncas – Do case insensitive match (default is case sensitive). For ASCII data only.
  • dec – Sort in descending order. Default order is ascending. Descending sort is done by inverting the ascending sort result.
  • mrg – Enable the Merge only mode. The inputs are simply merged according to the sort order, no actual sort is done.


$ aq_ord ... -d i:Col1 s:Col2 ... -sort Col2 Col1
  • Sort records according to the string value of the 2nd column and the numeric value of the 1st column in ascending order.

-blk NumRec FilPrefix
Enable the Block sort mode. Data is loaded and sorted in blocks of NumRec records at a time. The results are saved to FilPrefix-BlkNo.bin files in aq_tool’s internal binary format. BlkNo is the block number, it starts from 1 and increments for each NumRec records until the entire input is consumed. When this is done, the FilPrefix-BlkNo.bin files will be merged to produce the final result.

-blk_only NumRec FilPrefix
Same as the -blk option except that the FilPrefix-BlkNo.bin files are not merged afterwards. No final result is produced.

[-o[,AtrLst] File] [-c ColName [ColName …]]
Output data rows. Can be used with any of the sort modes except for -blk_only Multiple sets of “-o … -c …” can be specified.

Optional “-o[,AtrLst] File” sets the output attributes and file. See the aq_tool output specifications manual for details.

Optional “-c ColName [ColName …]” selects the columns to output. Normally, each selection is a column name. In addition, these special forms are supported:

  • * – An asterisk adds all columns to the output.
  • ColName[:NewName][+NumPrintFormat] – Add ColName to the output. If :NewName is given, it will be used as the output label. The +NumPrintFormat spec is for numeric columns. It overrides the print format of the column (be careful with this format – a wrong spec can crash the program).
  • ^ColName[:NewName][+NumPrintFormat] – Same as the above, but with a leading ^ mark. It is used to modify the output label and/or format of a previously selected output column called ColName. If ^ColName[…] is the first selection after -c, then * will be included automatically first.
  • ~ColName – The leading ~ mark is used to exclude a previously selected output column called ColName. If ~ColName is the first selection after -c, then * will be included automatically first.

If -o is given without a -c, then * is assumed. If -c is given without a prior -o, the selected columns will be output to stdout.


$ aq_ord ... -d s:Col1 s:Col2 s:Col3 ... -o - -c Col2 Col1
  • Output Col2 and Col1 (in that order) to stdout.

Exit Status

If successful, the program exits with status 0. Otherwise, the program exits with a non-zero status code along error messages printed to stderr. Applicable exit codes are:

  • 0 – Successful.
  • 1 – Memory allocation error.
  • 2 – Command option spec error.
  • 3 – Initialization error.
  • 4 – System error.
  • 5 – Missing or invalid license.
  • 11 – Input open error.
  • 12 – Input read error.
  • 13 – Input processing error.
  • 21 – Output open error.
  • 22 – Output write error.

See Also

  • aq-input – aq_tool input specifications
  • aq-output – aq_tool output specifications
  • aq_pp – Record preprocessor