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# how do I query a database to find words that sound similar to each other

Posted on 2012-04-03
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how do I query a database to find words that sound similar to each other
I have heard of things like soundex but do not know how to use them?
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Question by:Dov_B
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Accepted Solution

Jeffrey Coachman earned 170 total points
ID: 37804465
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alpmoon earned 170 total points
ID: 37804482
If you are SQL Server (or Sybase) you can use soundex function for that purpose:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa259235%28v=sql.80%29.aspx
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Author Comment

ID: 37804501
what do I do if i am using sqlite?
I know it supports soundex but it does not support the difference function
what would be an apropriate work around
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Assisted Solution

Wasim Akram Shaik earned 160 total points
ID: 37804506
yes, soundex function is used to find similar words based on the algorithm.

placing the extract from wikipedia about the rules of soundex

The following rules are applied when calculating the SOUNDEX for a string:

Keep the first letter of the string and remove all other occurrences of the following letters: a, e, h, i, o, u, w, y
Assign numbers to the remaining letters (after the first) as follows:
b, f, p, v = 1
c, g, j, k, q, s, x, z = 2
d, t = 3
l = 4
m, n = 5
r = 6
If two or more letters with the same number were adjacent in the original name (before step 1), or adjacent except any intervening h's and w's, then remove all but the first.
Return the first four bytes padded with 0.

complete details can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soundex

eg: the below query will retrieve records from db as

LAST_NAME  FIRST_NAME
---------- ----------
Smith      Lindsey
Smith      William

SELECT last_name, first_name
FROM hr.employees
WHERE SOUNDEX(last_name)
= SOUNDEX('SMYTHE');
this example is an extract from http://docs.oracle.com/cd/B19306_01/server.102/b14200/functions148.htm
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Author Comment

ID: 37804515
thanks so much but I need to find matches that are not perfect  the difference function work around would be exteremely helpful
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Author Comment

ID: 37804527
I am trying out this code in acces but have no Idea how to use it any pointers would be helpful
Public Function Soundex(varText As Variant) As Variant
On Error GoTo Err_Handler
'Purpose:   Return Soundex value for the text passed in.
'Return:    Soundex code, or Null for Error, Null or zero-length string.
'Argument:  The value to generate the Soundex for.
'Author:    Allen Browne (allen@allenbrowne.com), November 2007.
'Algorithm: Based on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soundex
Dim strSource As String     'varText as a string.
Dim strOut As String        'Output string to build up.
Dim strValue As String      'Value for current character.
Dim strPriorValue As String 'Value for previous character.
Dim lngPos As Long          'Position in source string

'Do not process Error, Null, or zero-length strings.
If Not IsError(varText) Then
strSource = Trim\$(Nz(varText, vbNullString))
If strSource <> vbNullString Then
'Retain the initial character, and process from 2nd.
strOut = Left\$(strSource, 1&)
strPriorValue = SoundexValue(strOut)
lngPos = 2&

'Examine a character at a time, until we output 4 characters.
Do
strValue = SoundexValue(Mid\$(strSource, lngPos, 1&))
'Omit repeating values (except the zero for padding.)
If ((strValue <> strPriorValue) And (strValue <> vbNullString)) Or (strValue = "0") Then
strOut = strOut & strValue
strPriorValue = strValue
End If
lngPos = lngPos + 1&
Loop Until Len(strOut) >= 4&
End If
End If

'Return the output string, or Null if nothing generated.
If strOut <> vbNullString Then
Soundex = strOut
Else
Soundex = Null
End If

Exit_Handler:
Exit Function

Err_Handler:
MsgBox "Error " & Err.Number & ": " & Err.Description, vbExclamation, "Soundex()"
'Call LogError(Err.Number, Err.Description, conMod & ".Soundex")
Resume Exit_Handler
End Function
Private Function SoundexValue(strChar As String) As String
Select Case strChar
Case "B", "F", "P", "V"
SoundexValue = "1"
Case "C", "G", "J", "K", "Q", "S", "X", "Z"
SoundexValue = "2"
Case "D", "T"
SoundexValue = "3"
Case "L"
SoundexValue = "4"
Case "M", "N"
SoundexValue = "5"
Case "R"
SoundexValue = "6"
Case vbNullString
'Pad trailing zeros if no more characters.
SoundexValue = "0"
Case Else
'Return nothing for "A", "E", "H", "I", "O", "U", "W", "Y", non-alpha.
End Select
End Function
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Expert Comment

ID: 37804544
you can try jaro wrinkler algorithm to find out the differences..

not sure sqlite has this function implemented or not..

just did a google search and posting an extract , you can go through these links

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/2847603/doing-order-by-using-the-jaro-winkler-distance-algorithm
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LVL 74

Expert Comment

ID: 37806265
Dov_B,

I'm confused...
<how do I query a database to find words that sound similar to each other>
Great, use Soundex...

Now you say:
<I need to find matches that are not perfect>
"Not Perfect"?

The word "Cat" is not a perfect match for the word "Phone", so I am not quite sure what you are asking for?

I am also not sure what you mean by the "Difference Function".

To be clear, why not just post a list of words, then post all the corresponding "Matches" for that word you may be seeking...

Keep in mind that not system to do this will be perfect.
0

Author Comment

ID: 37807973
sorry for all the trouble and thanks for staying with me
It seemed to me that that the difference function used together with the soundex function could create a list of less then perfect matches for example
I would like a query of the word 'difference' to return
france
differ
dance
phorensic
fence
something like that
I am now going to look at the google posts you left me thanks for your efforts on my behalf
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LVL 74

Expert Comment

ID: 37808218
Then your requirements for this "Matching" is extremely broad...

I don't thing anything will get you that without giving way too much, or way to little...

For example, most of these programs will match the number of "syllables".
'difference' is 3 syllables
"dance" is only one.

By your definition you may also get:
Spiff
Drifter
inference
interference
Stiff
Stiffer
rinse
wrench
since
grifter
...et al

...in  other words, ...any word that sounds like any "syllable" in your reference word...

So you may have to add another algorithm to create a search word for each "Syllable"
:-O

Good luck buddy....
;-)

Jeff
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