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Thanks for the prompt reactions to this question. They helped me decide where to place my efforts in optimizing the program. 
The difference in calling read_chars() and read_all() I missed when I studied the code, so that was a revealing remark.

Hans van der Meer

On 21 jun. 2013, at 11:04, "Meer, H. van der" <>

In one of my programs  I am reading files in the order of 1 or more GigaBytes. Measuring the program behaviour I came to the conclusion that a not insignificant fraction of the processing time goes into reading the file. If possible I would like to reduce this (or have to live with it -- also an option).