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Methods for creating and maintaining key-sequence data sets without overwriting the storage medium are described. These methods may be applied to erasable or to write-once storage devices, and they are compatible with conventional device error-management techniques. All past values of data records are preserved in a data structure called a Write-Once B-Tree. Rapid random access is available to records by key value; rapid sequential access is available to records in key-sequence order. Moreover, queries requesting data as of a previous time are processed as rapidly as requests for current data. Access time is proportional to the logarithm of the number of current records in the database. Efficient methods for inserting, updating, and deleting records are described. Upper bounds for tree depth and for storage consumption are given and compared with results from simulation. It is concluded that, with rapidly improving storage technologies, indelible databases will become practical for many applications.
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