Three major kinds of questions about metric spaces are considered here: the intrinsic dimensionality of a distribution, the maximum number of distance permutations, and the difficulty of reverse similarity search. Intrinsic dimensionality measures the tendency for points to be equidistant, which is diagnostic of high-dimensional spaces.
Distance permutations describe the order in which a set of fixed sites appears while moving away from a chosen point; the number of distinct permutations determines the amount of storage space required by some kinds of indexing data structure. Reverse similarity search problems are constraint satisfaction problems derived from distance-based index structures.
Their difficulty reveals details of the structure of the space. Theoretical and experimental results are given for these three questions in a wide range of metric spaces, with commentary on the consequences for computer science applications and additional related results where appropriate.