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Table usage is an important element of many programs. COBOL Table Processing discusses how to define, maintain, and use tables in a COBOL program.

The course begins with a discussion of common table applications. It then reviews the COBOL statements that are used to define a table and to access table elements. Next the course describes techniques for loading, updating, and searching a table. A discussion of COBOL statements designed to simplify common table operations is next, followed by an introduction to tables of two and three dimensions.

Approximate Study Time: 6 hours


After completing this course, you should be able to:

  • Code the Data Division entries to define and initialize a one-dimensional table
  • Design and code a COBOL routine to retrieve a particular argument from a table, using one of the following techniques, as appropriate:
    • Sequential search
    • Progressive search
    • Direct retrieval
    • Key transformation
  • Code COBOL routines to perform common operations operations using a variable-length table
  • Code the Data Division entries to define and initialize a multi-dimensional table
  • Code a COBOL routine to perform the following table operations:
    • Load the table from a sequential file
    • Directly access a particular element of the table
    • Serially access each element of the table or of a specified row or column
  • Code the COBOL statements required to associate an index (or indexes) with a table
  • Code the COBOL SEARCH verb to locate a specified entry in a table
  • Code the COBOL SEARCH ALL verb to locate a specified entry in a sorted table
  • Reorder the elements in a table to reduce the average time required for a sequential search, given the description of a table and table lookup statistics
  • Design and code a COBOL routine to keep track of and report on the number of times each element is accessed
  • Estimate the number of comparisons required to locate a typical element in a table, given a description of the table and a proposed search strategy
  • Select the optimal table organization and search technique for a given table depending on whether the objective is faster execution speed, reduced memory requirements, or fastest programming implementation

Topic Outline

Table Concepts and Terminology

Basic Table Operations

Useful Table Operations

Using Indexes

The Binary Search Technique

Multi-Dimensional Tables

Selecting a Table-Handling Technique


The course is suitable for entry-level programming students with no prior COBOL experience. It can also be taken by COBOL/400 programmers who want to learn ILE COBOL.


Before you begin your study of the material, you should know basic programming concepts and be acquainted with structured programming design techniques. In particular, you will be expected to understand program logic that is documented using pseudocode or structured flowcharts. You may have gained this knowledge from attending classes or from relevant work experience.

This course also assumes that you have a working knowledge of IBM i programming concepts and facilities. You can satisfy this prerequisite by successfully completing the courses in the following Manta series:

Finally, the course assumes that you have completed the previous courses of this series: