Best way to map words with multiple spellings to a list of key words?

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I have a pile of ngrams of variable spelling, and I want to map each ngram to it's best match word out of a list of known desired outputs.

For example, ['mob', 'MOB', 'mobi', 'MOBIL', 'Mobile] maps to a desired output of 'mobile'.

Each input from ['desk', 'Desk+Tab', 'Tab+Desk', 'Desktop', 'dsk'] maps to a desired output of 'desktop'

I have about 30 of these 'output' words, and a pile of about a few million ngrams (much fewer unique).

My current best idea was to get all unique ngrams, copy and paste that into Excel and manually build a mapping table, took too long and isn't extensible. Second idea was something with fuzzy (fuzzy-wuzzy) matching but it didn't match well.

I'm not experienced in Natural Language terminology or libraries at all so I can't find an answer to how this might be done better, faster and more extensibly when the number of unique ngrams increases or 'output' words change.

Any advice?

The classical approach would be, to build a "Feature Matrix" for each ngram. Each word maps to an Output which is a categorical value between 0 and 29 (one for each class)

Features can for example be the cosine similarity given by fuzzy wuzzy but typically you need many more. Then you train a classification model based on the created features. This model can typically be anything, a neural network, a boosted tree, etc.

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Since you only have about 30 classes you could just determine a distance metric, like say Levenshtein distance in the case of single words, and assign each ngram the class to which it is nearest.

That way no need to store a whole lotta ngrams.

(If the ngram is the whole array, maybe average the distance across each element in the array).

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The idea is to use a prefix tree to build a dictionary that maps word from your list to its biggest unique super-string. once we build this, for words whose superstring are same as the word itself, we try to do fuzzy match of the closest words from the list and return its superstring. so "dsk" would find "des" or "desk" to be the closest and we extract its superstring.

import org.apache.commons.collections4.Trie;
import org.apache.commons.collections4.trie.PatriciaTrie;

import java.util.*;
import java.util.SortedMap;

public class Test {

    static Trie trie = new PatriciaTrie<>();

    public static int cost(char a, char b) {
        return a == b ? 0 : 1;

    public static int min(int... numbers) {

    // this function taken from
    static int editDistance(String x, String y) {
        int[][] dp = new int[x.length() + 1][y.length() + 1];

        for (int i = 0; i <= x.length(); i++) {
            for (int j = 0; j <= y.length(); j++) {
                if (i == 0) {
                    dp[i][j] = j;
                } else if (j == 0) {
                    dp[i][j] = i;
                } else {
                    dp[i][j] = min(dp[i - 1][j - 1] + cost(x.charAt(i - 1), y.charAt(j - 1)), dp[i - 1][j] + 1,
                            dp[i][j - 1] + 1);

        return dp[x.length()][y.length()];

     * custom dictionary that map word to its biggest super string.
     *  mob -> mobile,  mobi -> mobile,  desk -> desktop
    static void initMyDictionary(List<String> myList) {

        for (String word : myList) {
            trie.put(word.toLowerCase(), "0"); // putting 0 as default

        for (String word : myList) {

            SortedMap<String, String> prefixMap = trie.prefixMap(word);

            String bigSuperString = "";

            for (Map.Entry<String, String> m : prefixMap.entrySet()) {
                int max = 0;
                if (m.getKey().length() > max) {
                    max = m.getKey().length();
                    bigSuperString = m.getKey();
                // System.out.println(bigString + " big");

            for (Map.Entry<String, String> m : prefixMap.entrySet()) {
                // System.out.println(m.getKey() + " - " + m.getValue());


     * find closest words for a given String.
    static List<String> findClosest(String q, List<String> myList) {

        List<String> res = new ArrayList();
        for (String w : myList) {
            if (editDistance(q, w) == 1) // just one char apart edit distance
        return res;


    public static void main(String[] args) {

        List<String> myList = new ArrayList<>(
                Arrays.asList("mob", "MOB", "mobi", "mobil", "mobile", "desk", "desktop", "dsk"));

        initMyDictionary(myList); // build my custom dictionary using prefix tree

        // String query = "mob"
        // String query = "mobile";
        // String query = "des";
        String query = "dsk";

        // if the word and its superstring are the same, then we try to find the closest
        // words from list and lookup the superstring in the dictionary.
        if (query.equals(trie.get(query.toLowerCase()))) {
            for (String w : findClosest(query, myList)) { // try to resolve the ambiguity here if there are multiple closest words
                System.out.println(query + " -fuzzy maps to-> " + trie.get(w));

        } else {
            System.out.println(query + " -maps to-> " + trie.get(query));



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  • To clarify, is each ngram an array like ` ['mob', 'MOB', 'mobi', 'MOBIL', 'Mobile']` or just the word 'Mobile'? Also, are you looking to save on memory or gain in speed?