# Jaro–Winkler distance

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In computer science and statistics, the Jaro–Winkler distance (Winkler, 1990) is a measure of similarity between two strings. It is a variant of the Jaro distance metric (Jaro, 1989, 1995), a type of string edit distance, and was developed in the area of record linkage (duplicate detection) (Winkler, 1990). The higher the Jaro–Winkler distance for two strings is, the more similar the strings are. The Jaro–Winkler distance metric is designed and best suited for short strings such as person names. The score is normalized such that 0 equates to no similarity and 1 is an exact match.

## Definition

${\displaystyle d_{j}=\left\{{\begin{array}{l l}0&{\text{if }}m=0\\{\frac {1}{3}}\left({\frac {m}{|s_{1}|}}+{\frac {m}{|s_{2}|}}+{\frac {m-t}{m}}\right)&{\text{otherwise}}\end{array}}\right.}$

where:

Two characters from ${\displaystyle s_{1}}$ and ${\displaystyle s_{2}}$ respectively, are considered matching only if they are the same and not farther than ${\displaystyle \left\lfloor {\frac {\max(|s_{1}|,|s_{2}|)}{2}}\right\rfloor -1}$.

Each character of ${\displaystyle s_{1}}$ is compared with all its matching characters in ${\displaystyle s_{2}}$. The number of matching (but different sequence order) characters divided by 2 defines the number of transpositions. For example, in comparing CRATE with TRACE, only 'R' 'A' 'E' are the matching characters, i.e. m=3. Although 'C', 'T' appear in both strings, they are farther than 1, i.e., floor(5/2)-1=1. Therefore, t=0 . In DwAyNE versus DuANE the matching letters are already in the same order D-A-N-E, so no transpositions are needed.

Jaro–Winkler distance uses a prefix scale ${\displaystyle p}$ which gives more favourable ratings to strings that match from the beginning for a set prefix length ${\displaystyle \ell }$. Given two strings ${\displaystyle s_{1}}$ and ${\displaystyle s_{2}}$, their Jaro–Winkler distance ${\displaystyle d_{w}}$ is:

${\displaystyle d_{w}=d_{j}+(\ell p(1-d_{j}))}$

where:

Although often referred to as a distance metric, the Jaro–Winkler distance is actually not a metric in the mathematical sense of that term because it does not obey the triangle inequality [1].

In some implementations of Jaro-Winkler, the prefix bonus ${\displaystyle \ell p(1-d_{j})}$ is only added when the compared strings have a Jaro distance above a set "boost threshold" ${\displaystyle b_{t}}$. The boost threshold in Winkler's implementation was 0.7.

${\displaystyle d_{w}=\left\{{\begin{array}{l l}d_{j}&{\text{if }}d_{j}

## Example

Note that Winkler's "reference" C code differs in at least two ways from published accounts of the Jaro–Winkler metric. First is his use of a typo table (adjwt) and also some optional additional tolerance for long strings.

Given the strings ${\displaystyle s_{1}}$ MARTHA and ${\displaystyle s_{2}}$ MARHTA we find:

We find a Jaro score of:

To find the Jaro–Winkler score using the standard weight ${\displaystyle p=0.1}$, we continue to find:

Thus:

${\displaystyle d_{w}=0.944+(3*0.1(1-0.944))=0.961}$

Given the strings ${\displaystyle s_{1}}$ DWAYNE and ${\displaystyle s_{2}}$ DUANE we find:

We find a Jaro score of:

${\displaystyle d_{j}={\frac {1}{3}}\left({\frac {4}{6}}+{\frac {4}{5}}+{\frac {4-0}{4}}\right)=0.822}$

To find the Jaro–Winkler score using the standard weight ${\displaystyle p=0.1}$, we continue to find:

Thus:

${\displaystyle d_{w}=0.822+(1*0.1(1-0.822))=0.84}$

Given the strings ${\displaystyle s_{1}}$ DIXON and ${\displaystyle s_{2}}$ DICKSONX we find:

 D I X O N D 1 0 0 0 0 I 0 1 0 0 0 C 0 0 0 0 0 K 0 0 0 0 0 S 0 0 0 0 0 O 0 0 0 1 0 N 0 0 0 0 1 X 0 0 0 0 0

We find a Jaro score of:

${\displaystyle d_{j}={\frac {1}{3}}\left({\frac {4}{5}}+{\frac {4}{8}}+{\frac {4-0}{4}}\right)=0.767}$

To find the Jaro–Winkler score using the standard weight ${\displaystyle p=0.1}$, we continue to find:

Thus:

${\displaystyle d_{w}=0.767+(2*0.1(1-0.767))=0.814}$

## References

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