Bloom filter in Python
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Bloom filter written in 29 lines of Python code.

Currently only works with strings and numeric types. I built this on a car ride.


  • mmh3 (C++ Murmur hash Python wrapper)


To create a bloom filter, choose an approximate capacity and an acceptable error rate.

>>> from bloompy import BloomFilter
>>> import random, math
>>> bf = BloomFilter(capacity=10000, error_rate=0.0001)

Based on these preferences, bloompy will choose the optimal number of hash functions (k) and bit vector size (m):

>>> print bf
<BloomFilter n=10000, k=13, m=191701, p=0.0001>

Congrats! You now have an empty bloom filter. You can treat it like a Python set, with the exception that you cannot retrieve the keys.

>>> print "apple" in bf
>>> bf.add("apple")
>>> bf.add(9)
>>> bf.add("orange")
>>> print "apple" in bf and 9 in bf and "orange" in bf


For a given approximate number of elements (n) and a desired false positive probability (p), there exists an optimal setting of:

  • length of bit vector (m)
  • number of hash functions (k)

in order to minimize the space required while still maintaining p under condition of n elements or less. These optimal settings are found through the equation for m:

m* = -n * ln(p) / ln(2)^2

and for k:

k = ln(2) * m / n

Instead of using a family of hash functions, I simply use k random salts (created upon instantiation) for the Murmur hash algorithm, which has phenomenal speed and key distribution. Each item to be added undergoes k hashings, each with a salt. Each 128 bit hash output is pulverized modulo the size of the bit vector (m), and that bit in the bit vector is set to 1.

Testing for membership simply involves hashing the item into a bit vector of size m with at most k set bits. This bit vector is AND with the bloom filter's vector, and then tested for equality with the original bit vector from hashing that element.


Speed: not so great, error adherence: right on.

[*] Now testing with 100000 unique strings and desired error rate of 0.001
[*] Performance results: 
pybloom: 1.711986 seconds with error rate = 0.001050
pybloomfilter: 0.303201 seconds with error rate = 0.000360
bloompy: 62.798033 seconds with error rate = 0.000990

As my implementation code is only 29 lines and I use the built-in Python int for the bitstring, that's not too surprising.

As you can see the math works and the error rate is maintained quite well. pybloomfilter is really quite masterfully done, being quite fast and keeping the error rate lower than desired.