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From "David Smiley (JIRA)" <>
Subject [jira] Commented: (SOLR-2155) Geospatial search using geohash prefixes
Date Wed, 19 Jan 2011 06:21:45 GMT


David Smiley commented on SOLR-2155:

Thanks for the "Damn Cool Algorithms" aritcle! It's fantastic, I'm in geospatial geek heaven
:-) I didn't know what quadtrees were before but now I know -- it's just a 4-ary grid instead
of 32-ary which is geohash.  Nick's illustration
should be useful for anyone coming to my code here to see how it works.

The divergent point in the article with what I'm doing is when he attempts to limit the number
of "ranges" (i.e boxes), 5 in his example. My first geohash patch had logic akin to this in
which I picked a resolution to intersect with the query shape that limited the number of boxes.
 I'd seek to the next box I needed and then iterate over the indexed terms at that box, testing
to see if it's in the query.  It could potentially look at way more points than needed.  Now
that I'm indexing a token for each geohash precision, I found it straight-forward to implement
a fully recursive algorithm down to the bottom grid (or one higher than that any way).  If
there are no points in a given area then it's short-circuited.  The worst-case is when much
of the edge of the shape passes through densely populated points.  At some point there's a
trade-off in which you pick between evaluating each point in the current box with the queried
shape versus divide & conquer.  My code here is making that decision simply by a geohash
length threshold but I have some comments in there to make estimations given certain usage
scenarios (e.g. one-one relationship between points and documents), and some sort of cost
model for the query shape complexity.

Hilbert Curves are interesting.  Applying that to my code would improve box adjacency which
will reduce the number of seek() calls, which I believe is one of the more expensive operations.

I've thought about indexing arbitrary shapes instead of being limited to points.  An indexed
shape could be put into the payload of the MBR (minimum bounding rectangle) of the grid box
term covering that shape -- potentially duplicating it twice or worst case four times depending
on the ratio of its size to intersecting grid boxes.  At query time, the recursive algorithm
here would examine the payloads to perform a shape intersection. Not too hard.  I assume you
are familiar with SOLR-2268 ?  It seems Grant needs convincing to use JTS due to the LGPL

Another thing I've been thinking about, by the way, is applying an "equal area projection"
like  Using this would enable
you to get by with a smaller geohash length to meet a certain uniform accuracy since you aren't
"wasting" bits, as we are now, at the poles.  I have yet to calculate the savings, and it
would add some computational cost at indexing time, but not really at query time.

> Geospatial search using geohash prefixes
> ----------------------------------------
>                 Key: SOLR-2155
>                 URL:
>             Project: Solr
>          Issue Type: Improvement
>            Reporter: David Smiley
>         Attachments: GeoHashPrefixFilter.patch, GeoHashPrefixFilter.patch
> There currently isn't a solution in Solr for doing geospatial filtering on documents
that have a variable number of points.  This scenario occurs when there is location extraction
(i.e. via a "gazateer") occurring on free text.  None, one, or many geospatial locations might
be extracted from any given document and users want to limit their search results to those
occurring in a user-specified area.
> I've implemented this by furthering the GeoHash based work in Lucene/Solr with a geohash
prefix based filter.  A geohash refers to a lat-lon box on the earth.  Each successive character
added further subdivides the box into a 4x8 (or 8x4 depending on the even/odd length of the
geohash) grid.  The first step in this scheme is figuring out which geohash grid squares cover
the user's search query.  I've added various extra methods to GeoHashUtils (and added tests)
to assist in this purpose.  The next step is an actual Lucene Filter, GeoHashPrefixFilter,
that uses these geohash prefixes in to skip to relevant grid squares in the
index.  Once a matching geohash grid is found, the points therein are compared against the
user's query to see if it matches.  I created an abstraction GeoShape extended by subclasses
named PointDistance... and CartesianBox.... to support different queried shapes so that the
filter need not care about these details.
> This work was presented at LuceneRevolution in Boston on October 8th.

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