Browse Definitions:
Definition

fuzzy search

Contributor(s): Jeff Tucker

A fuzzy search is a process that locates Web pages that are likely to be relevant to a search argument even when the argument does not exactly correspond to the desired information. A fuzzy search is done by means of a fuzzy matching program, which returns a list of results based on likely relevance even though search argument words and spellings may not exactly match. Exact and highly relevant matches appear near the top of the list. Subjective relevance ratings, usually as percentages, may be given.

A fuzzy matching program can operate like a spell checker and spelling-error corrector. For example, if a user types "Misissippi" into Yahoo or Google (both of which use fuzzy matching), a list of hits is returned along with the question, "Did you mean Mississippi?" Alternative spellings, and words that sound the same but are spelled differently, are given. A fuzzy matching program can compensate for common input typing errors, as well as errors introduced by optical character recognition ( OCR ) scanning of printed documents. The program can return hits with content that contains a specified base word along with prefixes and suffixes. For example, if "planet" is entered as a search word, hits occur for sites containing words such as "protoplanet" or "planetary." The program can also find synonyms and related terms, working like an online thesaurus or encyclopedic cross-reference tool. In the Ask Jeeves search engine, if the word "galaxy" is entered, hits are returned such as "Galaxy Photography," "Milky Way," and "The Nine Planets Solar System Tour."

Fuzzy matching programs usually return irrelevant hits as well as relevant ones. Superfluous results are likely to occur for terms with multiple meanings, only one of which is the meaning the user intends. If the user has only a vague or general idea of the topic, or does not know exactly what to look for, the ratio of relevant hits to irrelevant hits tends to be low. (The ratio is even lower, however, when an exact matching program is used in this situation.)

Fuzzy searching is much more powerful than exact searching when used for research and investigation. Fuzzy searching is especially useful when researching unfamiliar, foreign-language, or sophisticated terms, the proper spellings of which are not widely known. Fuzzy searching can also be used to locate individuals based on incomplete or partially inaccurate identifying information.

This was last updated in September 2005

Continue Reading About fuzzy search

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

SearchCompliance

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...

  • risk assessment

    Risk assessment is the identification of hazards that could negatively impact an organization's ability to conduct business.

SearchSecurity

  • security information and event management (SIEM)

    Security information and event management (SIEM) is an approach to security management that seeks to provide a holistic view of ...

  • polymorphic virus

    A polymorphic virus is a harmful, destructive or intrusive type of malware that can change or 'morph,' making it difficult to ...

  • cyberterrorism

    According to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, cyberterrorism is any 'premeditated, politically motivated attack against ...

SearchHealthIT

  • accountable care organization (ACO)

    An accountable care organization (ACO) is an association of hospitals, healthcare providers and insurers in which all parties ...

  • patient engagement

    Patient engagement is an ideal healthcare situation in which people are well-informed about -- and motivated to be involved -- in...

  • personal health record (PHR)

    A personal health record (PHR) is a collection of health-related information that is documented and maintained by the individual ...

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

SearchStorage

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.

Close