Better bitmap performance with Roaring bitmaps
Bitmaps are used to implement fast set operations in software. They are frequently found in databases and search engines.
Without compression, bitmaps scale poorly, so they are often compressed. Many bitmap compression techniques have been proposed, almost all relying primarily on run-length encoding (RLE). For example, Oracle relies on BBC bitmap compression while the version control system Git and Apache Hive rely on EWAH compression.
We can get superior performance with a hybrid compression technique that uses both uncompressed bitmaps and packed arrays inside a two-level tree. An instance of this technique, Roaring, has been adopted by several production platforms (e.g., Apache Lucene/Solr/Elastic, Apache Spark, eBay's Apache Kylin and Metamarkets' Druid).
Overall, our implementation of Roaring can be several times faster (up to two orders of magnitude) than the implementations of traditional RLE-based alternatives (WAH, Concise, EWAH) while compressing better. We review the design choices and optimizations that make these good results possible.