January 23, 2021
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The Secret of Soundex

  • By Karl Moore
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Readers of my weekly comments section in the VB-World newsletter know I'm a philosophical kinda guy, with a humorous, thought provoking notion put forward each and every week.

In the past, we've pondered over such puzzlers as:

  • How come wrong numbers are never busy?
  • Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard?
  • If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy all her friends?
  • When they invented the clock, how did they know what time to set it to?

Thankfully this article gives me an opportunity to throw a few other, slightly more relevant teasers your way:

  • How do spell checkers figure out which words to use as a replacement?
  • How do the telephone enquiry folk always manage to locate the number you require, even when you aren't sure overly sure of the name spelling?
  • How does fuzzy, "phonetical" searching work?
  • How do Tic Tac's provide so much freshness in just two calories?

The answer to the first three questions can all be attributed to one very special system we're going to learn in this article. And it goes by the name of Soundex.

That fourth question however... well, I can only say that I have absolutely no idea how the cool, minty flavour of those low-fat fresheners manage to provide such a whoppingly good service to the mouth with such little impact on the waistline!

<Karl's Swiss bank account increases by #10,000 due to his subtle commercial plug>

So let's get on with the show and explore the secret of Soundex...

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This article was originally published on November 20, 2002

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