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String::Trigram version 0.11


To install this module type the following:

   perl Makefile.PL
   make test
   make install




    String::Trigram - Find similar strings by trigram (or 1, 2, 4,
    etc.-gram) method

      use String::Trigram;

  Object Oriented Interface
      my @cmpBase = qw(establishment establish establishes established disestablish disestablishmentarianism);

      my $trig = new String::Trigram(cmpBase => \@cmpBase);

      my $numOfSimStrings = $trig->getSimilarStrings("establishing", \%result);

      print "Found $numOfSimStrings similar strings.\n";

      foreach (keys %result) {
        print "Similar string $_ has a similarity of ", sprintf ("%02f", ($result{$_} * 100)), "%\n";

  Functional Interface
      my $string1 = "foo";
      my $string2 = "boo";

      my $smlty = String::Trigram::compare($string1, $string2);

      print "$string1 and $string2 have a similarity of ", sprintf("%.2f", ($smlty * 100)), "%.\n";

      $smlty = String::Trigram::compare($string1, $string2);

      print "$string1 and $string2 have a similarity of ", sprintf("%.2f", ($smlty * 100)), "%.\n";

    This module computes the similarity of two strings based on the trigram
    method. This consists of splitting some string into triples of
    characters and comparing those to the trigrams of some other string. For
    example the string kangaroo has the trigrams "{kan ang nga gar aro
    roo}". A wrongly typed kanagaroo has the trigrams "{kan ana nag aga gar
    aro roo}". To compute the similarity we divide the number of matching
    trigrams (tokens not types) by the number of all trigrams (types not
    tokens). For our example this means dividing 4 / 9 resulting in 0.44.

    To balance the disadvantage of the outer characters (every one of which
    occurs in only one trigram - while the second and the penultimate occur
    in two and the rest of the characters in three trigrams each) somewhat
    we pad the string with blanks on either side resulting in two more
    trigrams ' ka' and 'ro ', when using a padding of one blank. Thus we
    arrive at 6 matching trigrams and 11 trigrams all in all, resulting in a
    similarity value of 0.55.

    When using the trigram method there is one thing that might appear as a
    problem: Two short strings with one (or two or three ...) different
    trigrams tend to produce a lower similarity then two long ones. To
    counteract this effect, you can set the module's "warp" property. If you
    set it to something greater than 1.0 (try something between 1.0 and 3.0,
    flying at warp 9 won't get you anywhere here), this will lift the
    similarity of short strings more and the similarity of long strings
    less, resulting in the '%%%' curve in the (schematical) diagram below.

      simi-  |                                   %            *      %
      larity |             %           *                   #         #
      value  |      %         *          #
             |            *     #
             |    %    *    #
             |       *   #
             |      *
             |   % * #
             |   *
             |  % #
             |  *
             |                         ***  no warp (i.e. warp == 1.0)
             | %#                      %%%                    warp > 1
             | *                       ###                    warp < 1
                                                      length of string

           Dependency of similarity value on length of string and warp

    Don't hesitate to use this feature, it sometimes really helps generating
    useful results where you otherwise wouldn't have got any.

    Please be aware of that a "warp" less than 1.0 will result in an inverse
    effect pulling down the similarity of short strings a lot and the
    similarity of long ones less, resulting in the '###' curve. I have no
    idea what this can be good for, but it's just a side effect of the
    method. How is all this done? Take a look at the code.

    Splitting strings into trigrams is a time consuming affair and if you
    want to compare a set of n strings to another set of m strings and you
    do it on a member to member base you will have to do n * m splittings.
    To avoid this, this module takes a set of strings as the base of
    comparison and generates an index of every trigram occuring in any of
    the members of the set (including the information, how often the trigram
    occurs in a given member string). Then you can feed it the members of
    the other set one by one. This results in an amount of n + m splitting
    plus the overhead from generating the index. This way we save a lot of
    time at the expense of memory, so - if you operate on a great amount of
    strings - this might turn out to be somewhat of a problem. But there you
    are. There's no such thing as a free lunch.

    Anyway - the module is optimized for comparisons of sets of string which
    results in single comparisons being slower than it might be. So, if you
    use the "compare()" function which compares single strings in a
    functional interface, to be able to use the full functionality of the
    module and not to get into the need to program same things twice,
    internally a String::Trigram object is instantiated and an index of the
    trigrams of one of the strings is generated. In practice however this
    shouldn't be a big disadvantage since a single comparison or just a few
    won't need too much (absolute) time.

      my @base = qw(chimpanzee lion emu kangaroo);

      my $trig = new String::Trigram(cmpBase => \@base);

    This is the constructor. Before we are able to do any computing of
    similarities, it will want the parameter "cmpBase" to point to a
    reference to an array of strings (the base of comparison). Everything
    else is taken care of unless you want to change the defaults:

      my $trig = new String::Trigram(cmpBase        => \@base,
                                     minSim         => 0.5,
                                     warp           => 1.6,
                                     ignoreCase     => 0,
                                     keepOnlyAlNums => 1,
                                     ngram          => 5,
                                     debug          => 1);


    *   "cmpBase" - Reference to array containing strings for base of

    *   "minSim" - Minimal similarity you are prepared to accept. Specify a
        value between 0 (not similar at all) and 1 (identity). Any string
        matching with less (equals) than "minSim" will not be returned in
        "getSimilarStrings()" and not counted as a match in
        "getBestMatch()", even if it is the only one. Default is 0, so
        anything even remotely matching will be returned.

    *   "ngram" - If you do not want to use trigrams, but some other n in
        n-gram, use this parameter, for example ngram => 5 for 5-grams.

    *   "warp" - Set warp attribute (see description). Default is 1.0 (no

    *   "ignoreCase" - Just that. Default is 1 (do ignore case)

    *   "keepOnlyAlNums" - Remove any \W character before comparison.
        Default is 0 (keep every character).

    *   "padding" - Set the number of blanks for padding string (see above).
        The number has to be between 0 and n-1 (n from n-gram). Default is

    *   "debug" - print some debugging information to STDERR

    CROAKS IF ...

    *   it gets an unknown parameter

    *   ngram is 0

    *   parameter cmpBase does not point to a reference to an array

    *   minimal similarity is out of bounds (should be 0 <= minSim <= 1)

    *   warp is out of bounds (0 <= warp)

    *   padding is out of bounds (should be 0 <= padding <= n-1)

      $trig->reInit(["zebra", "tiger", "snake", "gorilla", "kangaroo"]);

    Give the object a new base of comparison (deleting the old one).

    CROAKS IF ...

    *   parameter does not point to a reference to an array

      $trig->extendBase(["zebra", "tiger", "snake", "gorilla", "kangaroo"]);

    Add strings to object's base of comparison.

    CROAKS IF ...

    *   parameter does not point to a reference to an array


    Get or set minimal accepted similarity (see above).

    CROAKS IF ...

    *   minimal similarity is out of bounds (should be 0 <= minSim <= 1)


    Get or set warp (see above).

    CROAKS IF ...

    *   warp is out of bounds (should be 0 <= warp)


    Get or set ignoreCase property (see above).


    Get or set keepOnlyAlNums property (see above).


    Get or set padding property (see above).

    CROAKS IF ...

    *   padding is out of bounds (should be 0 <= padding <= n-1)


    Get or set debug property. For debugging to STDERR, set to 1.

      my %results = ();
      my $numOfSimStrings = $trig->getSimilarStrings("zebrilla", \%results [, minSim => 0.6, warp => 0.7]);

    Get similar strings for first parameter from base of comparison. The
    result is saved in the second parameter (a reference to a hash), the
    keys being the strings and the values the similarity values. The method
    returns the number of found similar strings.

    If parameters minSim or warp are defined, those values are changed

    CROAKS IF ...

    *   second parameter is not a reference to a hash

      my @bestMatches = ();
      my $sim = $trig->getBestMatch("zebrilla", \@bestMatches [, minSim => 0.6, warp => 0.7]);

    Don't bother about all those more or less similar strings, just get the
    best one. This might actually be more than one, since several strings
    might result in the same similarity value. So the second parameter is a
    reference to an array, taking the best similar strings, the first
    parameter is the string to compare. Returns similarity of best match or
    0 if there are no similar strings at all (please observe that in the
    case of no match the return value was -1 up to $VERSION == 0.02).

    If parameters minSim or warp are defined, those values are changed

    CROAKS IF ...

    *   second parameter is not a reference to an array

      my $sim = compare($string1, $string2);


      my $sim = compare($string1,
                        minSim         => 0.3,
                        warp           => 1.8,
                        ignoreCase     => 0,
                        keepOnlyAlNums => 1,
                        ngram          => 5,
                        debug          => 1);

    Use this if you don't want use the oo- interface. Returns resulting
    similarity. Note that this is not a very fast way to use the module, if
    you do a lot of comparisons, since internally for every call to
    compare() a new Trigram object is initialized (and "DESTROY"ed as it
    goes out of scope).

    CROAKS IF ...

    [same as using new() and getSimilarStrings()]


    Tarek Ahmed, <>

    *   "String::Similarity" - Uses edit scripts to compute similarity
        between strings.

    *   "String::Approx" - Uses Levenshtein edit distance to compute
        similarity between strings.

    *   "Text::Soundex" - Uses soundex method to compute similarity between

    For an early description of the method, see: R.C. Angell, G.E. Freund,
    and P. Willet. Automatic spelling correction using a trigram similarity
    measure. Information Processing and Management, 19(4):255--261, 1983.


Copyright (c) 2003 Tarek Ahmed. All rights reserved. This program is free 
software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl