Levenshtein word comparison -performance issue

Terry Reedy tjreedy at udel.edu
Fri Feb 13 19:22:45 CET 2009

Gabriel Genellina wrote:
> En Fri, 13 Feb 2009 08:16:00 -0200, S.Selvam Siva 
> <s.selvamsiva at gmail.com> escribió:
>> I need some help.
>> I tried to find top n(eg. 5) similar words for a given word, from a
>> dictionary of 50,000 words.
>> I used python-levenshtein module,and sample code is as follow.
>> def foo(searchword):
>>     disdict={}
>>     for word in self.dictionary-words:
>>                    distance=Levenshtein.ratio(searchword,word)
>>                    disdict[word]=distance
>>     """
>>      sort the disdict dictionary by values in descending order
>>     """
>>     similarwords=sorted(disdict, key=disdict.__getitem__, reverse=True)
>>     return similarwords[:5]
> You may replace the last steps (sort + slice top 5) by heapq.nlargest - 
> at least you won't waste time sorting 49995 irrelevant words...

There is also no need to build the 50000 entry word-distance dictionary.

import heapq, functools

def foo(searchword, n):
   distance = functools.partial(Levenshtein.ratio, searchword)
   return heapq.nlargest(n, words, distance)

If the distances are wanted along with the similar words, I strongly 
suspect that it would be faster to recalculate a small number than to 
generate the dict of 50000 pairs.

> Anyway you should measure the time taken by the first part 
> (Levenshtein), it may be the most demanding. I think there is a C 
> extension for this, should be much faster than pure Python calculations.

And such could be dropped into the code above.

Terry Jan Reedy

More information about the Python-list mailing list