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From Erik Hatcher <>
Subject Re: Starts With x and Ends With x Queries
Date Sun, 06 Feb 2005 14:00:26 GMT

On Feb 4, 2005, at 9:37 PM, Chris Hostetter wrote:
> If you want to start doing suffix queries (ie: all names ending with
> "s", or all names ending with "Smith") one approach would be to use
> WildcarQuery, which as Erik mentioned, will allow you to use a quey 
> Term
> that starts with a "*". ie...
>    Query q3 = new WildcardQuery(new Term("name","*s"));
>    Query q4 = new WildcardQuery(new Term("name","*Smith"));
> (NOTE: Erik says you can do this, but the docs for WildcardQuery say 
> you
> can't I'll assume the docs are wrong and Erik is correct.)

I assume you mean this comment on WildcardQuery's javadocs:

"In order to prevent extremely slow WildcardQueries, a Wildcard term 
must not start with one of the wildcards <code>*</code> or 

I don't read that as saying you cannot use an initial wildcard 
character, but rather as if you use a leading wildcard character you 
risk performance issues.  I'm going to change "must" to "should".  And 
yes, WildcardQuery itself supports a leading wildcard character exactly 
as you have shown.

> Which leads me to my point: if you denormalize your data so that you 
> store
> both the Term you want, and the *reverse* of the term you want, then a
> Suffix query is just a Prefix query on a reversed field -- by 
> sacrificing
> space, you can get all the speed efficiencies of a PrefixQuery when 
> doing
> a SuffixQuery...
>    D1> name:"Adam Smith" rname:"htimS madA" age:13 state:CA ...
>    D2> name:"Joe Bob" rname:"boB oeJ" age:42 state:WA ...
>    D3> name:"John Adams" rname:"smadA nhoJ" age:35 state:NV ...
>    D3> name:"Sue Smith" rname:"htimS euS" age:33 state:CA ...
>    Query q1 = new PrefixQuery(new Term("name","J*"));
>    Query q2 = new PrefixQuery(new Term("name","Sue*"));
>    Query q3 = new PrefixQuery(new Term("rname","s*"));
>    Query q4 = new PrefixQuery(new Term("rname","htimS*"));
> (If anyone sees a flaw in my theory, please chime in)

This trick has been mentioned on this list before, and is a good one.  
I'll go one step further and mention another technique I found in the 
book Managing Gigabytes, making "*string*" queries drastically more 
efficient for searching (though also impacting index size).  Take the 
term "cat".  It would be indexed with all rotated variations with an 
end of word marker added:


The query for "*at*" would be preprocessed and rotated such that the 
wildcards are collapsed at the end to search for "at*" as a 
PrefixQuery.  A wildcard in the middle of a string like "c*t" would 
become a prefix query for "t$c*".

Has anyone tried this technique with Lucene?


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