Congratulations, you just invented a kind of a Trie.
Besides that, you speak of a very serious problem (at least for us). And we're not that poor on memory. But Perl forces us to migrate some applications on 32GB RAM machines. Alas,
they're 64bit and Perl is much more of a memory hog there than it is on 32bit. *sigh*
A less memory-hoggy Perl is on my wishlist for 5.10 and compare also this node of mine.
This problem has only one solution. A better implementation of hashes within perl - or at least some option where one can choose whether he'd like to trade memory for speed.
Again - I hope to see it in 5.10.
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