I have a large text file containing numeric data of 1000 groups each of 200 lines. The lines are unsorted. There is a 9 line header at the beginning of each group, i.e., 209 ⨉ 1000 lines altogether.

I want to drop the headers to have a file containing 200 ⨉ 1000 lines. I also want the 200 lines of each output group sorted by the first number in the line. What is a way to do this efficiently in Mathematica?

My actual data set is much larger than 200 lines and 1000 groups. I made up these number for the sake of discussion.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Have you read the documentation for Read, ReadList, Skip, etc.? $\endgroup$
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Dec 21, 2012 at 14:21
  • $\begingroup$ Could you put a large text file on dropbox or somewhere else so we can play with it? $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 21, 2012 at 14:22
  • $\begingroup$ here is the link to a file with 134 steps each 1584 lines (including 9 header lines). I want 134*1575 lines sorted 1,2,3...1575,1,2,3,...1575,...(ex. first 1575 lines are ordered) cheers, $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 21, 2012 at 15:41
  • $\begingroup$ sorry, forgot to add link in previous comment: dropbox.com/s/i1b12qxlowdcccm/2.txt $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 21, 2012 at 16:02

1 Answer 1


Maybe not the fastest way, but this just takes a few minutes to write. Read and looping and checking will be faster, but takes more time to code.

Since I could not use Import on your dropbox link, I copied 2.txt to my website. Then, if you have a fast internet connection and reasonable hardware, the following should run in less than 10 seconds. Fast enough?

dat = Import["http://www.mertig.com/2.txt", "Table"];
sdat= Sort /@ 
   Select[SplitBy[dat, MatchQ[#, {__?NumberQ}] &], Length[#] > 10 &];


===> {134, 1575, 5}
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. this works well. although I intended to know how to do this in a "loop". $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 10:57
  • $\begingroup$ Why use loops if you don't have to? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 15:34
  • $\begingroup$ alright, the text file I'm trying to import is too big (4GB). but I need only (i*1575) + (10th and 1575th) lines. {i,0,10000}. importing it uses memory in very huge files and crashes. can I read only lines and select? $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 14:08
  • $\begingroup$ @SesnaSecna you can. no time right now. later. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 14:20

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