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This reminds me of how I re-implemented nested sets in relational databases as spans in a "coordinate" system.

  | Root              |
  | Node        | Node|
  | Node | Node |
I stored only "X" and "Y" coordinates for every node, so you had to read "next" node in a row to get current node's "size".

It was a bit more human-readable when looking at the data. More importantly, it reduced (on average) the number of nodes I needed to update on insert compared to nested set and gave an easy way of retrieving immediate children. But you still had to "move over" all the nodes "right" of the one you're inserting.

The structure in the article looks eerily similar. I wonder whether it's somehow possible to apply GitHub's optimization to this "coordinate" based schema and make it relative without messing up the benefits of column indexing. Hm...

Isn't that the nested set model mentioned in the post itself?

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