[][src]Crate nclist

A nested containment list (NClist) is a datastructure that can be queried for elements overlapping intervals. It was invented and published by Alexander V and Alekseyenko Christopher J. Lee in Bioinformatics in 2007 (doi: 10.1093/bioinformatics/btl647).

How it works

The NClist internals rely on the observation that when a set of intervals, where all are non-contained (based on their interval bounds) in any of the other intervals in the set, are sorted on their start coordinate are also sorted on their end coordinate. If this requirement is fulfilled the items overlapping an interval can be found by a binary search on the query start and returning items until the query end coordinate has been passed, giving a complexity of O(log(N) + M) where N is the size of the set and M is the number of overlaps.

The only remaining problem is the intervals that are contained in another interval. This was solved by taking out these intervals and storing them in a separate set, linking this set to the original interval. Now when you search for overlaps you check for contained intervals and also search these nested sets. This can be implemented recursively (as shown in the paper) or using a queue (which was used for this crate). This means that the worst case complexity becomes O(N) if all intervals are contained within its parent

The linked article also provides details about an on-disk version that can also be efficiently searched, but this crate implementation is in-memory and stores the items in a (single) Vec.

How to use

You can create a searchable NClist<T> from a Vec<T> if you implement the Interval trait for T The Interval trait also requires that T is Ord. Creating the NClist validates that the end coordinate is greater than start. This means negative and zero-width intervals cannot be used in an NClist<T>.


use nclist::NClist;
// Given a set of `T` where `T` implements the `Interval` trait
let v = vec![(10..15), (10..20), (1..8)];
// Create the NClist, this consumes v
let nc = NClist::from_vec(v).unwrap();
// count overlaps, the query is provided as a reference to a `std::ops::Range`
assert_eq!(nc.count_overlaps(&(10..12)), 2);
// remember, intervals are half open
assert_eq!(nc.count_overlaps(&(20..30)), 0);

//or query them using an iterator
let mut q = nc.overlaps(&(7..10));
assert_eq!(q.next(), Some(&(1..8)));
assert_eq!(q.next(), None);

Recommendations for use

The NClist<T> is not mutable. Any mutable access to the items could invalidate the interval bounds (interior mutability using for example a RefCell could solve this). Also insertion and deletion are not supported. I can speculate that an interval tree would also be a better for this type of access. For usage in bioinformatics where interval data is often provided as (sorted) lists (gff, gtf, bed) the NClist<T> is a perfect fit and has very nice ergonomics. Obviously the implementation works better when nesting depth is limited, but performance in simple tests seem consistently better than rust-bio's IntervalTree





The interval trait needs to be implemented for T before you can create an NClist<T>. An interval is half-open, inclusive start and exclusive end (like std::ops::Range<T>), but end > start must always be true.