Fuzzy join with other dataset (memory-based)

This processor performs a fuzzy left join with another (small) dataset.

‘Fuzzy’ means that the join can match even if the two strings being matched are not exactly equal, but close.

Example use case

You are processing a dataset of search queries. Many queries target the name of a product, but with lots of variations and typos. You also have a dataset with all your products, and you want to add some product details info to each query, when we can identify which product it is about.

Fuzzy join can help you find the correct product, even when the product name is not exact. # Behaviour details The processor performs a deduplicated left join:

  • If no rows in the ‘other’ dataset match, joined columns are left empty
  • If multiple rows match in the ‘other’ dataset, the ‘closest’ one in terms of edit distanceis selected

Requirements and limitations

The ‘other’ dataset must fit in RAM. A good limit would be that it should not be more than ~500 000 rows. If this is not the case, you should use a recipe to join the datasets (for example, a Pig, Hive, Python or SQL recipe).

Both the dataset being processed and the ‘other’ dataset must contain a column containing the join key. # Fuzziness and simplification The processor performs a fuzzy search by computing the ‘distance’ between two string (roughly speaking, the number of differing characters between them). In order to increase the recall (ie, the number of times we find a match), it is generally recommended to first ‘simplify’ the text in both datasets, to remove some variance. This processor has built-in simplification options.

  • Normalize text: transforms to lowercase, removes accents and performs Unicode normalization (Café -> cafe)
  • Clear stop words: remove so-called ‘stop words’ (the, I, a, of, ...). This transformation is language-specific and requires you to enter the language of your column.
  • Stem words: transforms each word into its ‘stem’, ie its grammatical root. For example, ‘grammatical’ is transformed to ‘grammat’. This transformation is language-specific and requires you to enter the language of your column.
  • Sort words alphabetically: sorts all words of the text. For example, ‘the small dog’ is transformed to ‘dog small the’. This allows you to match together strings that are written with the same words in a different order.


The processor needs the following parameters:

  • Column containing the join key in the current dataset (which may have been generated by a previous step)
  • Name of the dataset to join with. Note that the dataset to join with must be in the same project.
  • Column containing the join key in the joined dataset.
  • Columns from the joined dataset that should be copied to the local dataset, for the matched row.
  • Simplification options
  • Maximum Damerau-Levenstein distance between the simplified strings so that they are considered a match.


The processor outputs selected columns from the joined dataset. For each row of the current dataset, the columns will contain the data from the matching row in the joined dataset.

If no row matched in the joined dataset, the output columns will be left empty.