The type of search programme we can use depends on the way in which the information is stored within the computer. There are two principle techniques for arranging the files of information about your documents—the item file, in which the record is the document, its identity, its title, etc., and all its descriptors; and the inverted file, in which the record is the descriptor followed by the identities of all the documents to which it applies. Generally speaking, an item file is usually held serially, most commonly on magnetic tape, whereas an inverted file is usually held in a random access device. The reasons for this will become clear later when we discuss the programs.
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