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sequential access


n. ~ 1. Computing · A technique of retrieving and processing information in a file or on storage media by starting at the beginning, then proceeding to each following record in order. - 2. Computing · A method of retrieving and processing information in a file by matching the order of transactions to the order in which the information is stored in the file.


Some storage media require sequential access. For example, information on tape can only be accessed sequentially.

(Ralston 1976, p. 2) Indirect methods [of access] may be classified 1) as sequential, in which there is some type of search through a sequence of records (but generally not a complete search that starts from the first record and proceeds through the whole file), or 2) as nonsequential, in which the desired record is located without such a search. A common nonsequential method is based on the use of an index and is usually called 'Index Sequential Access Method' (ISAM). Other nonsequential access methods use key transformations and are usually referred to as 'randomizing' or 'hashing' techniques.