analiticcl 0.2.0

Analiticcl is an approximate string matching or fuzzy-matching system that can be used to find variants for spelling correction or text normalisation

Crate GitHub build GitHub release Project Status: WIP – Initial development is in progress, but there has not yet been a stable, usable release suitable for the public.



Analiticcl is an approximate string matching or fuzzy-matching system that can be used for spelling correction or text normalisation (such as post-OCR correction or post-HTR correction). Texts can be checked against a validated or corpus-derived lexicon (with or without frequency information) and spelling variants will be returned.

The distinguishing feature of the system is the usage of anagram hashing to drastically reduce the search space and make quick lookups possible even over larger edit distances. The underlying idea is largely derived from prior work TICCL (Reynaert 2010; Reynaert 2004), which was implemented in ticcltools. This analiticcl implementation attempts to re-implement the core of these ideas from scratch, but also introduces some novelties, such as the introduction of prime factors for improved anagram hashing. We aim at a high-performant lightweight implementation written in Rust.


  • Quick retrieval of spelling variants given an input word due to smart anagram hashing lookup. This is the main feature that drastically reduces the search spaces.

  • Works against a lexicon, which can either be a validated lexicon (preferred), or a lexicon derived from a corpus.

  • Uses an user-provided alphabet file for anagram hashing, in which multiple characters may be mapped to a single alphabet entry if so desired (e.g. for casing or for more phonetic-like lookup behaviour like soundex)

  • Can take into account frequency information from the lexicon

  • Matching against final candidates using a variety of possible distance metrics. Scoring and ranking is implemented as a weighted linear combination including the following components:

    • Damerau-Levenshtein
    • Longest common substring
    • Longest common prefix/suffix
    • Frequency information
    • Lexicon weight, usually binary (validated or not)
    • Casing difference (boolean)
  • A confusable list with known confusable patterns and weights can be provided. This is used to favour or penalize certain confusables in the ranking stage (this weight is applied to the whole score).

  • Rather than look up words in spelling-correction style, users may also output the entire hashed anagram index, or output a reverse index of all variants found the supplied input data for each item in the lexicon.

  • Multi-threading support

  • to be implemented still:

    • variant matching on full text documents (rather than delivering the input line by line), simple tokenisation
    • better handling of unknown values
    • proper handling of n-grams (splits/merges)
    • A Python binding


You can build and install the latest stable analiticcl release using Rust's package manager:

cargo install analiticcl

or if you want the development version after cloning this repository:

cargo install --path .

No cargo/rust on your system yet? Do sudo apt install cargo on Debian/ubuntu based systems, brew install rust on mac, or use rustup.

Note that 32-bit architectures are not supported.


Analiticcl is typically used through its command line interface, full syntax help is always available through analiticcl --help.

Analiticcl can be run in several modes, each is invoked through a subcommand:

  • Query mode - analiticcl query - Queries the model for variants for the provided input item (one per line)
  • Index mode - analiticcl index - Computes and outputs the anagram index, takes no further input
  • Collect mode - analiticcl collect - Collects variants from the input for each item in the lexicon and outputs this reverse index

Query Mode

The query mode takes one input item per line and outputs all variants and their scores found for the given input. Default output is TSV (tab separated fields) in which the first column contains the input and the variants and scores are tab delimited fields in the columns thereafter.

You need to pass at least an alphabet file and a lexicon file against which matches are made.


$ analiticcl query --interactive --lexicon examples/eng.aspell.lexicon --alphabet examples/simple.alphabet.tsv
Initializing model...
Loading lexicons...
Building model...
Computing anagram values for all items in the lexicon...
 - Found 119773 instances
Adding all instances to the index...
 - Found 108802 anagrams
Creating sorted secondary index...
Sorting secondary index...
Querying the model...
(accepting standard input; enter input to match, one per line)

The program is now taking standard input, enter a word to query and press ENTER to get the variants and the scores. Specify the --interactive parameter otherwise output may not be returned immediately but will be buffered for parallellisation:

seperate        separate        0.7666666666666667              desperate       0.6             generate        0.5583333333333333              venerate        0.5583333333333333              federate        0.5583333333333333              exasperate     0.52             sewerage        0.5083333333333334              seatmate        0.5083333333333333              saturate        0.5             prate   0.49333333333333335

Rather than running it interactively, you can use your shell's standard redirection facilities to provide input and output, multiple variants will be processed in parallel.

$ analiticcl query --lexicon examples/eng.aspell.lexicon --alphabet examples/simple.alphabet.tsv < input.tsv >

The --lexicon argument can be specified multiple times for multiple lexicons. When you want to use a corpus-derived lexicon, use --corpus instead (can be used multiple times too). The difference affects only the scoring where items from a validated lexicon will be esteemed higher than those from a background corpus. Both types of lexicons may contain frequency information (will be used by default when present). In case you are using multiple lexicons, you can get analiticcl to output information on which lexicon a match was found in by setting. --output-lexmatch.

If you want JSON output rather than TSV, use the --json flag.

Index Mode

The index mode simply outputs the anagram index, it takes no further input.

$ analiticcl index --lexicon examples/eng.aspell.lexicon --alphabet examples/simple.alphabet.tsv

It may be insightful to sort on the number of anagrams and show the top 20 , with a bit of awk scripting and some piping:

$ analiticcl index --lexicon examples/eng.aspell.lexicon --alphabet examples/simple.alphabet.tsv | awk -F'\t' '{ print NF-1"\t"$0 }' | sort -rn | head -n 20
8       1227306 least   slate   Stael   stale   steal   tales   teals   Tesla
7       98028906        elan's  lane's  Lane's  lean's  Lean's  Lena's  Neal's
7       55133630        actors  castor  Castor  Castro  costar  Croats  scrota
7       485214  abets   baste   bates   Bates   beast   beats   betas
7       416874  bares   baser   bears   braes   saber   sabre   Sabre
7       411761163       luster  lustre  result  rustle  sutler  ulster  Ulster
7       409102  alts    last    lats    LSAT    salt    SALT    slat
7       3781815 notes   onset   Seton   steno   stone   Stone   tones
7       33080178        carets  caster  caters  crates  reacts  recast  traces
7       2951915777547   luster's        lustre's        result's        rustle's        sutler's        ulster's        Ulster's
7       286404699       merits  mister  Mister  miters  mitres  remits  timers
7       28542   east    East    eats    etas    sate    seat    teas
7       28365   ergo    goer    gore    Gore    ogre    Oreg    Roeg
7       27489162        capers  crapes  pacers  parsec  recaps  scrape  spacer
7       1741062 aster   rates   resat   stare   tares   tears   treas
7       17286   ales    Elsa    lase    leas    Lesa    sale    seal
7       1446798 pares   parse   pears   rapes   reaps   spare   spear
7       1403315 opts    post    Post    pots    spot    stop    tops
7       13674   elan    lane    Lane    lean    Lean    Lena    Neal
6       96935466        parses  passer  spares  sparse  spears  Spears

The large number is the anagram value of the anagram.

Collect Mode

(to be written still)

Data Formats

All input for analiticcl must be UTF-8 encoded and use unix-style line endings.

Alphabet File

The alphabet file is a TSV file (tab separated fields) containing all characters of the alphabet. Each line describes a single alphabet 'character'. An alphabet file may for example start as follows:


Multiple values on a line may be tab separated and are used to denote equivalents. A single line representing a single character could for example look like:

a	A	á	à	ä	Á	À	Ä

This means that these are all encoded the same way and are considered identical for all anagram hashing and distance metrics. A common situation is that all numerals are encoded indiscriminately, which you can accomplish with an alphabet entry like:

0	1	2	3	4	5	6	7	8	9

It is recommended to order the lines in the alphabet file based on the frequency of the character, as this will lead to the most optimal performance (i.e. generally smaller anagram values), but this is not a hard requirement by any means.

Entries in the alphabet file are not constrained to a single character but may also correspond to multiple characters, for instance:

ae	æ

Encoding always proceeds according to a greedy matching algorithm in the exact order entries are defined in the alphabet file.

Lexicon File

The lexicon is a TSV file (tab separated fields) containing either validated words (--lexicon) or corpus-derived words (--corpus), one lexicon entry per line. The first column typically (this is configurable) contains the word and the optional second column contains the absolute frequency count. If no frequency information is available, all items in the lexicon carry the exact same weight.

Multiple lexicons may be passed and analiticcl will remember which lexicon was matched against, so you could use this information for some simple tagging.

Confusable List

The confusable list is a TSV file (tab separated fields) containing known confusable patterns and weights to assign to these patterns when they are found. The file contains one confusable pattern per line. The patterns are expressed in the edit script language of sesdiff. Consider the following example:

-[y]+[i]	1.1

This pattern expressed a deletion of the letter y followed by insertion of i, which comes down to substitution of y for i. Edits that match against this confusable pattern receive the weight 1.1, meaning such an edit is given preference over edits with other confusable patterns, which by definition have weight 1.0. Weights greater than 1.0 are being given preference in the score weighting, weights smaller than 1.0 imply a penalty. When multiple confusable patterns match, the products of their weights is taken. The final weight is applied to the whole candidate score, so weights should be values fairly close to 1.0 in order not to introduce too large bonuses/penalties.

The edit script language from sesdiff also allows for matching on immediate context, consider the following variant of the above which only matches the substituion when it comes after a c or a k:

=[c|k]-[y]+[i]	1.1

To force matches on the beginning or end, start or end the pattern with respectively a ^ or a $. A further description of the edit script language can be found in the sesdiff documentation.

Theoretical Background

A naive approach to find variants would be to compute the edit distance between the input string and all n items in the lexicon. This, however, is prohibitively expensive (O(mn)) when m input items need to be compared. Anagram hashing (Reynaert 2010; Reynaert 2004) aims to drastically reduce the variant search space. For all items in the lexicon, an order-independent anagram value is computed over all characters that make up the item. All words with the same set of characters (allowing for duplicates) obtain an identical anagram value. This value is subsequently used as a hash in a hash table that maps each anagram value to all variant instances. This is effectively what is outputted when running analiticcl index.

Unlike earlier work, Analiticcl uses prime factors for computation of anagram values. Each character in the alphabet gets assigned a prime number (e.g. a=2, b=3, c=5, d=7, e=11) and the product of these forms the anagram value. This provides the following useful properties:

  • We can multiply any two anagram values to get an anagram that represents the union set of all characters in both (including duplicates): av(A) ∙ av(B) = av(AB)
  • If anavalue A can be divided by anavalue B (av(A) % av(B) = 0), then the set of characters represented by B is fully contained within A.
    • av(A) / av(B) = av(A-B) contains the set difference (aka relative complement). It consists of the set of all characters in A that are not in B.

The caveat of this approach is that it results in fairly large anagram values that quickly exceed a 64-bit register, the analiticcl implementation therefore uses a big-number implementation to deal with arbitrarily large integers.

The properties of the anagram values facilitate a much quicker lookup, when given an input word to seek variants for (e.g. using analiticcl query), we take the following steps:

  • we compute the anagram value for the input
  • we look up this anagram value in the index (if it exists) and gather the variant candidates associated with the anagram value
  • we compute all deletions within a certain distance (e.g. by removing any 2 characters). This is a division operation on the anagram values. The maximum distance is set using the -k parameter.
  • for all of the anagram values resulting from these deletions, we look which anagram values in our index match or contain (av(A) % av(B) = 0) the value under consideration. We again gather the candidates that result from all matches.
    • To facilitate this lookup, we make use of a secondary index, the secondary index is grouped by the number of characters. For each length it enumerates, in sorted order, all anagram values that exist for that particular length. This means we can apply a binary search to find the anagrams that we should check our anagram value against (i.e. to check whether it is a subset of the anagram), rather than needing to exhaustively try all anagram values in our index.
  • Via the anagram index, we have collected all possibly relevant variant instances, which is a considerably smaller than the entire set we'd get if we didn't have the anagram heuristic. Now the set is reduced we apply more conventional measures:
    • We compute several metrics between the input and the possible variants:
      • Damerau-Levenshtein
      • Longest common substring
      • Longest common prefix/suffix
      • Frequency information
      • Lexicon weight, usually binary (validated or not)
      • Casing difference (binary, different case or not)
    • A score is computed that is an expression of a weighted linear combination of the above items (the actual weights are configurable)
    • A cut-off value prunes the list of candidates that score too low (the parameter -n expresses how many variants we want)
    • Optionally, if a confusable list was provided, we compute the edit script between the input and each variant, and rescore when there are known confusables that are either favoured or penalized.