Efficient query autocompletion with edit distance-based error tolerance

Jianbin Qin, Chuan Xiao, Sheng Hu, Jie Zhang, Wei Wang, Yoshiharu Ishikawa, Koji Tsuda, Kunihiko Sadakane

Published in VLDB Journal, 2020

Query autocompletion is an important feature saving users many keystrokes from typing the entire query. In this paper, we study the problem of query autocompletion that tolerates errors in users’ input using edit distance constraints. Previous approaches index data strings in a trie, and continuously maintain all the prefixes of data strings whose edit distances from the query string are within the given threshold. The major inherent drawback of these approaches is that the number of such prefixes is huge for the first few characters of the query string and is exponential in the alphabet size. This results in slow query response even if the entire query approximately matches only few prefixes. We propose a novel neighborhood generation-based method to process error-tolerant query autocompletion. Our proposed method only maintains a small set of active nodes, thus saving both space and time to process the query. We also study efficient duplicate removal, a core problem in fetching query answers, and extend our method to support top-k queries. Optimization techniques are proposed to reduce the index size. The efficiency of our method is demonstrated through extensive experiments on real datasets.

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