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Re: Binary file I/O

  • Subject: [mg2960] Re: Binary file I/O
  • From: ianc (Ian Collier)
  • Date: 17 Jan 1996 05:19:21 -0600
  • Approved:
  • Distribution: local
  • Newsgroups: wri.mathgroup
  • Organization: Wolfram Research, Inc.
  • Sender: mj at

In article <4dd2qp$al at>, Matt Reed <mreed at> wrote:

> I am working with large datasets that I would prefer to store as binary
> data rather than ASCII.  These files could be, for example, single- or
> double-precision numbers.  What is the most efficient way of handling
> input and output of such datafiles in Mma?  I've considered writing an
> external translator to read the data and pipe it to Mma in ASCII, but I
> wonder if it is possible to access binary data in a file directly. 
> Matt Reed
> University of Michigan

You could try using Utilities`BinaryFiles`, one of the Standard
Mathematica Packages included in the Mathematica distribution.

It is documented on pages 403-409 of the Guide to Standard
Mathematica Packages Technical Report.

You might also want to look at FastBinaryFiles on MathSource:

0206-783: FastBinaryFiles: A MathLink Program for Fast Reading 
and Writing of Binary Files 

Todd Gayley

FastBinaryFiles is a MathLink program and Mathematica package 
for fast reading and writing of binary files. It is intended 
as a replacement for the standard package Utilities`BinaryFiles`, 
which is slow and cannot be used under MS Windows. A 
ready-to-run executable is available for Mac and Windows; others 
will have to build the program from the single source file, Note that there is no separate package (.m) file. If 
you want to use the program on Mac or Windows, the
executable is all you need. If you want to compile it on your 
own, the C source file is all you need. You need 
Mathematica version 2.2 or later to use FastBinaryFiles (I 
haven't tried it with v2.1, but it might work). DOS users 
cannot use it, as MathLink is not available for DOS, and
Windows users need either version 2.2.2, or 2.2.1 and the 
MathLink Developer's Kit for Windows. This program is discussed 
more fully in Volume 4, Issue 2 of The Mathematica Journal. 

       README.txt (7 Kb) (83 Kb) (38 Kb) 
       binary.sit.hqx (119 Kb) 

I hope this helps.


Ian Collier
Technical Sales Support
Wolfram Research, Inc.
tel:(217) 398-0700     fax:(217) 398-0747      ianc at
Wolfram Research Home Page:   

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