Vector databases:
optimization through bitmap indexing techniques

Author post: Vector Databases with Bitmap Indexing

Adrián Carrio

Lead Data Scientist


Vector databases have emerged as a powerful solution to handle complex and multidimensional data sets. In the context of database technologies, efficiency and speed in data access are crucial aspects. In this article, we’ll explore these databases and how using bitmap indexing significantly speeds up their performance.

Vector databases

Concept and applications

Unlike traditional databases, vector databases are designed to handle multidimensional data such as images, geospatial data and vector representations. These databases store information in the form of vectors, with each vector corresponding to a specific dimension within the dataset.

A practical example of the application of vector databases is in geographical information systems (GIS), in which complex geospatial data such as maps, coordinates and geometries can be stored and queried.

Challenges in vector databases

Although vector databases offer advantages in terms of representation and manipulation of multidimensional databases, they also pose some challenges. The complexity of spatial queries and the need to run efficient operations in very large datasets may negatively impact performance.

It is in this context where bitmap indexing techniques become relevant and provide an effective solution to improve data access speeds in vector databases.

Bitmap indexing techniques

An efficient solution

Bitmap indexing is a technique that uses binary data structures to represent sets of elements. Each element in the set is associated with a bit and the presence or absence of an element is indicated with the value of its corresponding bit.

This approach, applied in Shapelets REC, is particularly useful in vector databases, where it can be applied to accelerate spatial queries and improving search operations efficiency.

Advantages of bitmap indexing in vector databases


Dimensionality reduction: with multiple dimensions, bitmap indexing can help reduce dimensionality, improving the search and recovery of data.


Efficiency in spatial queries: queries involving spatial relations, such as intersection and belonging, benefit significantly from bitmap indexing. Since it is only necessary to apply


Storage optimization: bitmap indexing usually requires less storage as compared to other index structures, resulting in a more efficient use of resources.


Query speed optimization: by reducing the data set through bit operations, queries run faster, providing a significant improvement in data recovery speed.

Practical example

Application of bitmap indexing 

Let’s consider a vector database which stores geospatial information about cities. Each city is represented as a multidimensional vector including geographical coordinates, population, and other attributes.

To accelerate the search for cities within some specific coordinates range, bitmap indexing can be applied to geographical coordinates. Each bitmap will represent the presence of cities in a particular coordinate range, simplifying spatial queries.


Vector databases offer a robust solution for multidimensional data management, but its performance can be further increased through the application of advanced indexing techniques. Bitmap indexing stands out as an efficient option, especially in the context of spatial queries in this type of databases.

Shapelets REC, is a proprietary vector database developed by Shapelets, which offers unprecedented indexing and query execution speeds relying precisely on the implementation of lightweight but powerful bitmap indices.

The ability to reduce dimensionality, improve the efficiency in spatial queries and optimize the data recovery speed makes bitmap indexing a valuable technique in the toolbox of vector database optimization techniques. While the demand for efficient processing of multidimensional data continues to grow, the role of bitmap indexing becomes increasingly relevant.

 Just think about the amount of hours you and your team can save.

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