[erlang-questions] ets:match_object/3 strangeness

Robert Virding rvirding@REDACTED
Tue Sep 15 02:33:51 CEST 2015

I have an ETS table called *sune* which is a duplicate_bag containing many
elements with the same key. The *bert* elements have the structure
*{bert,SequenceNo,Data}* so I can see the ordering. If I do
{bert,'_','_'})* I will get back a list of all the matching elements in the
order they were inserted, which is what I want. However, there can be quite
a few elements with the same key so I would prefer to get them in chunks
instead of all at once. The solution for this is to start with
{bert,'_','_'}, 5)* which returns a continuation and then follow with a
sequence of *ets:match_object(Continuation)* until I get all the elements
in chunks of 5. That is when things start to get strange:

- Now the ordering is completely messed up. Each chunk of 5 contains a
sequence but some in ascending order and some in descending order, for
example 440,439,438,437,436.
- The chunks come in what looks like random order, for example chunks
starting with 571,425,566,430 but starting with the outermost first working
towards the middle.
- The really weird thing is that the continuation actually contains all the
matching elements which haven't been returned yet.

The last is the really strange. According to the documentation for

"Works like ets:match_object/2 but only returns a limited (Limit) number of
matching objects. The Continuation term can then be used in subsequent
calls to ets:match_object/1 to get the next chunk of matching objects. This
is a space efficient way to work on objects in a table which is still
faster than traversing the table object by object using ets:first/1 and

But the continuation contains them all so where is the space efficiency? I
mean why bother to use this at all as it gives me no benefits.

I tried the same thing using *ets:select/3/1* and got the same result.

My original goal was to work how this would interact with inserting or
deleting elements while I was scanning. My got my answer.

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