##### λ Tony's Blog λ

## Finding the Levenshtein Distance in Scala

Posted on April 24, 2008In the spirit of esoteric code snippets like this one, I thought I’d put my two bob in :)

I have written the Levenshtein Distance algorithm using Scala below. The Levensthein Distance algorithm is a Dynamic Programming Algorithm (DPA). This implementation is a little different to the Python one (which creates the arrays explicitly and fills them using loops):

The code more closely represents the mathematical definition of the algorithm

The code is easier to reason about because the destructive updates occur behind the scenes (in the memoisation library)

The code below requires a third party library (Scalaz)

*note that Scalaz comes with demo code including the levenshtein distance and other DPAs*The code has a better complexity than the typical loopy version by using lazy evaluation (notice that ‘c’ is not always evaluated)

While the code memoises with an array, you could use say, a map and save some space as well

The code builds the call stack as it traverses the matrix (the loopy one does not)

```
import scalaz.memo.Memo
import scalaz.memo.SizedMemo.arraySizedMemo
object Levenshtein {
def levenshtein[A](x: Array[A], y: Array[A]): Int = {
val im = arraySizedMemo
val m = im[Memo[Int, Int]](x.length + 1)
// the call matrix
def mx(i: Int, j: Int): Int = if(i == 0) j else if(j == 0) i else {
def f = (n: Int) => im[Int](y.length + 1)
val a = m(f)(i - 1)(mx(i - 1, _))(j) + 1
val b = m(f)(i - 1)(mx(i - 1, _))(j - 1) + (if(x(i - 1) == y(j - 1)) 0 else 1)
lazy val c = m(f)(i)(mx(i, _))(j - 1) + 1
if(a < b) a else if(b <= c) b else c
}mx(x.length, y.length)
}
def main(args: Array[String]) =
println(levenshtein(args(0).toCharArray, args(1).toCharArray))
}
```

To run this code:

```
$ wget http://projects.workingmouse.com/public/scalaz/artifacts/2.4/scalaz.jar # download Scalaz 2.4
$ scalac -classpath scalaz.jar Levenshtein.scala # compile
$ scala -classpath .:scalaz.jar Levenshtein algorithm altruistic # find the distance!
<strong>6</strong>
```