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From Jose Luna <>
Subject Advice regarding fuzzy phrase searching
Date Tue, 11 Dec 2007 18:30:09 GMT

I am looking for some advice regarding which tools I might use to solve 
my problem.  I apologize ahead of time for the long explanation.

Problem Description:  I would like to index a set of very large HTML 
documents.  I would then be able to run two different kinds of queries: 
proximity queries, and fuzzy phrase queries.   I would like to get the 
exact positions of the matching results from the query (I need to modify 
the original documents at these positions.)  I will only need to search 
one document at a time, i.e., I already know which document I'll be 
looking in, so what's important is finding the positions of the hits 
within that document.

For example,  for a fuzzy search, I may want to search for "arterial 
oxygen saturation".   I would want this to match "arterial oxygen 
saturate", and I would want to get the position of where it matches.  I 
would also like to do proximity searches, with these broken into 
separate terms.  So, I may be searching for "arterial", "oxygen", and 
"saturate" all within 10 terms of each other, and get the positions of 
the cases that match.

To the best of my understanding, Lucene is not a good choice to solve 
this problem (please correct me if I'm wrong).   As far as I can tell, 
Lucene breaks up a document into a set of terms, and indexes these in 
some sort of structure.  My guess is a B+ tree, but I'm curious to learn 
more about it -- I couldn't find much in the documentation about the 
underlying index structure.   Anyway, this means that the keys->pointer 
pairs in the index are basically term->documenID pairs.  So this isn't 
very suitable for my problem. I already know which document I want to 
search, I'm interested in the position of hits.    If I were to search 
for the phrase "arterial oxygen saturation", this would be broken into 
terms and I could iterate through all of the TermPositions for a given 
term in the document, and try to find out where these terms are adjacent 
in the document.  Considering that my document is very large, the 
phrases can be 10+ terms, and I need to do this hundreds of times, this 
doesn't sound like a very good solution.  If we introduce the idea of 
fuzzy matches and proximity searches, it seems like this task of 
iterating through TermPositions becomes very complicated. 

I've spent time reading the docs, creating a test program, and reading 
the mailing list.  As far as I can tell, Lucene is geared towards 
document based queries, and isn't the ideal tool for my problem.  I 
think an index based on a suffix tree (or variation of) would better 
meet my needs, but I'm not sure how well these perform with fuzzy and 
proximity searches.  I've looked around, and I can't seem to find a good 
opensource indexing framework like lucene that's based on a suffix 
tree.  Are there any suggestions for tools that would help with this 
problem?  Does anyone have any suggestions on how I might bend Lucene to 
meet my needs?

Thanks in advance,


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