A sets algorithm

Random832 random832 at fastmail.com
Mon Feb 8 09:49:52 EST 2016

On Sun, Feb 7, 2016, at 20:07, Cem Karan wrote:
> 	a) Use Chris Angelico's suggestion and hash each of the files (use the standard library's 'hashlib' for this).  Identical files will always have identical hashes, but there may be false positives, so you'll need to verify that files that have identical hashes are indeed identical.
> 	b) If your files tend to have sections that are very different (e.g., the first 32 bytes tend to be different), then you pretend that section of the file is its hash.  You can then do the same trick as above. (the advantage of this is that you will read in a lot less data than if you have to hash the entire file).
> 	c) You may be able to do something clever by reading portions of each file.  That is, use zip() combined with read(1024) to read each of the files in sections, while keeping hashes of the files.  Or, maybe you'll be able to read portions of them and sort the list as you're reading.  In either case, if any files are NOT identical, then you'll be able to stop work as soon as you figure this out, rather than having to read the entire file at once.
> The main purpose of these suggestions is to reduce the amount of reading
> you're doing.

hashing a file using a conventional hashing algorithm requires reading
the whole file. Unless the files are very likely to be identical _until_
near the end, you're better off just reading the first N bytes of both
files, then the next N bytes, etc, until you find somewhere they're
different. The filecmp module may be useful for this.

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