The Dictionary intrinsic class is a specialized lookup table class designed for storing the vocabulary table for a parser. Dictionary works closely with GrammarProd to supply the vocabulary tokens for the productions.

The main difference between Dictionary and a more general hash table is that Dictionary tags each vocabulary word with a type; for our purposes, the type is the vocabulary property (&noun, &adjective, etc) that associates the word with an object.

intrinsic class Dictionary :   Object

Superclass Tree   (in declaration order)


Subclass Tree  


Global Objects  


Summary of Properties  


Summary of Methods  

addWord  correctSpelling  findWord  forEachWord  isWordDefined  removeWord  setComparator 

Inherited from Object :
getPropList  getPropParams  getSuperclassList  isClass  isTransient  ofKind  propDefined  propInherited  propType  valToSymbol 




addWord (obj, str, voc_prop)dict.h[137]

Add a word to the dictionary, associating the given object with the given string and property combination.

correctSpelling (str, maxEditDistance)dict.h[224]
Get a list of possible spelling corrections for the given word. This searches the dictionary for words that match the given word within the given maximum "edit distance".

The return value is a list giving all of the words in the dictionary that match the input string within the given maximum edit distance. Any given dictionary word will appear only once in the returned list. The list is in arbitrary order. Each entry consists of a sublist, [word, dist, repl], where 'word' is a matching dictionary word, 'dist' is the edit distance between that dictionary word and the input string, and 'repl' is the number of character replacements performed. (The replacement count is included in the edit distance, but it's called out separately because some correctors treat replacements as heavier changes than other edits. A caller could use this to break ties for corrections of the same distance. Consider "book" and "box" as corrections for "bok": both have edit distance 1, but "book" has no replacements, while "box" has one.)

The edit distance between two words is defined as the number of single-character insertions, deletions, replacements, and transpositions necessary to transform one word into another. For example, OPNE can be transformed into OPEN by transposing the N-E pair, for an edit distance of 1. XAEMINE can be transformed into EXAMINE by inserting an E at the beginning, and then deleting the E at the third letter, for an edit distance of 2.

Choosing the maximum edit distance is essentially heuristic. Higher values make the search take longer, and yield more matches - which increases the chances that the right match will be found, but also increases the number of false matches to sift through. The literature on spelling correction suggests that 2 is a good value in practice, across a wide range of applications, based on the most frequent patterns of human typographical errors. However, you'll probably do better to vary the distance based on the word length: perhaps 1 for words up to 4 letters, 2 for 5-7 letters, and 3 for words of 8 letters or more.

If the dictionary has a StringComparator object as its current comparator, the results will take into account its case folding setting, truncation length, and character mappings. These "approximations" are NOT considered to be edits, so they don't count against the maximum edit distance. Custom comparators (not of the StringComparator class) are ignored: if you use a custom comparator, this method will only find matches based on the exact text of the dictionary words.

findWord (str, voc_prop?)dict.h[131]
Find a word; returns a list giving the objects associated with the string in the dictionary. If voc_prop is specified, only objects associated with the word by the given vocabulary property are returned. We match the string using the comparator defined for the dictionary.

The return value is a list consisting of pairs of entries. The first element of each pair is the matching object, and the second is gives the comparator result for matching the word. If we use a StringComparator, this will be a non-zero integer value giving information on truncation, case folding, and any equivalence mappings defined in the comparator. If the comparator is a custom object, then the second element of the pair will be whatever the custom comparator's matchValues() method returned for matching the value for that dictionary entry.

The reason for giving a matchValues() return value for every individual match is that the same input string 'str' might match multiple entries in the dictionary. For example, the same string might match one word exactly and one with truncation. The match result code lets the caller determine if some matches are "better" than others, based on how the string matched for each individual object entry.

forEachWord (func)dict.h[175]
Invoke the callback func(obj, str, prop) for each word in the dictionary. Note that the callback can be invoked with a single string multiple times, since the callback is invoked once per word/object/property association; in other words, the callback is invoked once for each association created with addWord() or during compilation.

isWordDefined (str, filter?)dict.h[165]
Check to see if the given string 'str' is defined in the dictionary. Returns true if the word is defined, nil if not.

If the 'filter' argument is provided, it gives a callback function that is invoked to determine whether or not to count a particular word in the dictionary as a match. The callback is invoked with one argument: (filter)(match), where 'match' is the result of the comparator's matchValues(str,dstr) method, where 'dstr' is a dictionary string matching 'str'. The filter function returns true if the string should be counted as a match, nil if not. The return value of isWordDefined thus will be true if the filter function returns true for at least one match, nil if not. The purpose of the filter function is to allow the caller to impose a more restrictive condition than the dictionary's current comparator does; for example, the caller might use the filter to determine if the dictionary contains any matches for 'str' that match without any truncation.

removeWord (obj, str, voc_prop)dict.h[144]
Remove the given word association from the dictionary. This removes only the association for the given object; other objects associated with the same word are not affected.

setComparator (compObj)dict.h[104]
Set the comparator object. This defines how words are compared. The object must provide the following methods, which comprise the "comparator" interface. Note that there's no class that defines this interface; this is simply a set of methods that we define here, and which the supplied object must define.

calcHash(str) - returns an integer giving the hash value of the given string. The purpose of the hash value is to arbitrarily partition the search space, so that we can search only a small subset of the dictionary when looking for a particular string. It is desirable for hash values to distribute uniformly for a given set of strings. It's also highly desirable for the hash computation to be inexpensive (i.e., to run fast), since the whole point of the hash is to reduce the amount of time it takes to find a string; if it takes longer to compute the hash value than it would to search every string in the table, then we don't come out ahead using the hash.

matchValues(inputStr, dictStr) - compare the given input string with the given dictionary string, and return a result indicating whether or not they match for the purposes of the comparator. A return value of zero or nil indicates that the values do not match; any other return value indicates a match.

Typically, matchValues() will return a non-zero integer to indicate a match and to encode additional information about the match using a bitwise-OR'd combination of flag values. For example, a comparator that allows case folding could use bit flag 0x0001 to indicate any match, and bit flag 0x0002 to indicate a match where the case of one or more input letters did not match the case of the corresponding letters in the dictionary string. So, a return value of 0x0001 would indicate an exact match, and 0x0003 would indicate a match with case differences.

Note the asymmetry in the matchValues() arguments: we specifically designate one string as the input string and one as the dictionary string. This allows for asymmetrical comparisons, which are desirable in some cases: we sometimes want a given input string to match a given dictionary string even when the two are not identical character-by-character. For example, we might want to allow the user to type only the first six or eight characters of a string in the dictionary, to save typing; or, we might want to allow a user to enter unaccented letters and still match dictionary words containing the corresponding letters with accents. The asymmetry in the arguments is there because we often only want these "fuzzy" match rules to work in one direction; for the truncation example, we'd want an input word that's a truncated version of a dictionary word to match, but not the other way around.

Important: Note that, although the hash value computation is up to the implementing object to define, we impose one requirement. It is REQUIRED that for any two strings s1 and s2, if matchValues(s1, s2) indicates a match (i.e., returns a value other than 0 or nil), then calcHash(s1) MUST EQUAL calcHash(s2). (This does NOT mean that two strings with equal hash values must be equal, or, equivalently, that two unequal strings must have different hash values. Hash collisions are explicitly allowed, so two strings that don't match can still have the same hash value.)

TADS 3 Library Manual
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