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From:Hartmut Holzgraefe Date:June 3 2013 4:38pm
Subject:Re: string-likeness
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On 03.06.2013 17:29, hsv@stripped wrote:
> I wish to join two tables on likeness, not equality, of character strings. Soundex
> does not work. I am using the Levenstein edit distance, written in SQL, a very costly
> test, and I am in no position to write it in C and link it to MySQL--and joining on
> equality takes a fraction of a second, and this takes hours. Any good ideas?

equality checks have a linear cost of O(min(len1,len2)) and can make
use of indexes, too, while Levenshtein cost is is almost quadratic
O(len1*len2) and can't make any good use of indexes ... even using
a C UDF would help only so far with this kind of complexity. It will
increase performance by a constant factor, but given long enough
input strings the len1*len2 factor will still account for the majority
of the run time increase over simple equality comparions

there are a few possible points of optimization though, first of all
you can cut off equal start and end sequences (linear complexity for
that part instead of quadratic). You can also add a few more tricks
if you are only interested in matches below a certain distance threshold:

* if string lengths differ by more than the threshold value you can
  rule out this pair of strings as being "similar" right away

* while iterating over the distance array keep track of the min.
  distance value of the current row ... if at the end of a row
  is larger than the threshold distance you can terminate right away

* only calculate operation cost, not operation type

* do not maintain a full len1*len2 array, having only the previous
  and current row in two one dimensional arrays is sufficient
  (this esp. helps in C implementation as the functions working set
  is more likely to fit into CPU caches)


Hartmut Holzgraefe <hartmut@stripped>
Principal Support Engineer (EMEA)
string-likenesshsv3 Jun
  • Re: string-likenessJohan De Meersman3 Jun
  • Re: string-likenessHartmut Holzgraefe3 Jun
    • Re: string-likenesshsv4 Jun
  • RE: string-likenessRick James3 Jun
    • Re: string-likenessMichael Dykman3 Jun
    • RE: string-likenesshsv6 Jun