Poor man's fuzzy search

Been a while since I suggested how to do things or what alternatives exist for a particular problem.

We are dealing with Search today.

Why? Recently had to research (no pun intended) about searching algorithms and various platform specific solutions for fuzzy searching. One of the requirements was for a large data set and the other was for mudkip

The Problem

You see, searching itself is a very simple concept, you browse through the given data to find matched patterns. Example: If I have 10 names, and I need to find how many have the letter S in them, then I'll have to scan all 10 names, go letter by letter to see if it has the letter s.

Now, mudkip has a pretty fast search even though it's a linear run, it's still fast because it's a very simple scoring algorithm and has no string similarity algorithm.

The problem is that this can be a very bad idea when working with a large dataset and you would've seen me use something like Pagefind where the search index is generated on build time.

Mudkip has no such index and that makes it slower when working with large sets. So, the next option is to build something that can handle fuzzy search, really fast.

The Solutions

Server Side

The large dataset on the server can be searched in various ways, the one I like the most is pgvector and vector similarity algorithms, since they are fast and can handle most fuzzy edge cases.

Recently someone also created a rust version called which seems to be heading in a great direction. The other option is to combine this with a Materialized View that refreshes as necessary, this helps with controlled searches and controlled updates.

Next up, is using redis and there's various ways to do it and I created a tiny library that allows you to use both ways. This is available as @dumbjs/search and handles the methods I'll be explaining below.

I can't do too much in detail about the solution since there's better articles doing the same but to give an overview. The solutions can be divided into 2.

  1. Phonetic Search
  2. Prefix Keys

A phonetic search is based on what a word might sound like instead of the whole word.

For example:

We store these like so search-index:HL and whatever data you want to identify with this message.

Prefix Keys

The prefix keys are more simplistic in the sense that they are just indexes constructed from words and then multiple words can be a union or intersection of data from other keys.

For example: For the same statement hello world , I'd save 2 a few indices. hello => ['h','he','hel','hell','hello'] and create a key for each of them, now I can use ZRANK to find any of those and all of those have identifiers that I would need in my usage. Because of how sets work, I can also create an insection for a search that might look like hel wor and the results would be an intersection between the values both available in keys search-index:hel and search-index:wor.

Pretty bad explanation but then the library handles most of it for you.


Back to mudkip, the solution for improving mudkip's search is easy, we create a more optimized index on build and create a tiny cache in the browser to make similar searches faster.

One approach is to "get inspired" by what wade does, which is to create trie of the possible tokens. This should allow an easy traversal and improve scoring while keeping the original scoring logic of mudkip which is taken from Sublime Text.

I'll probably be writing that as a tiny package that can be shipped with mudkip so you should have an easier way to use whatever I end up building...

That's mostly it for this log, Adios!