The CAFS search engine is a real machine in a virtual machine world; it is the hardware component of ICL's CAFS system. The paper is an introduction and prelude to the set of papers in this volume on CAFS applications. It defines The CAFS system and its context together with the\ud function of its hardware and software components. It examines CAFS' role in the broad context of application development and information systems; it highlights some techniques and applications which exploit the CAFS system. Finally, it concludes with some suggestions for possible further developments.\ud \ud 'Search out thy wit for secret policies\ud And we will make thee famous through the world'\ud Henry VI, 1:
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