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Directed Acyclic Word Graph

A DAWG is a data structure for storing large sets of character sequences, usually individual words. DAWG makes a good use of the redundancy in word sets, typically requiring considerably less memory than a plain list of words would, while enabling highly efficient lookups to test if a specific word is in the graph.


This library exposes two major classes: DawgGraph and DawgGraphReadonly. The former is used to construct a graph by adding one word at a time, and can be saved to a file. The latter does not allow adding new words, but uses much less memory. Both support loading from a file and checking whether a word is in the graph.


A sorted dictionary of 180,000 English words can be turned into a DawgGraph in a quarter of a second, and consumes roughly 3 MB of memory. A DawgGraphReadonly with the same set of words consumes just under 1 MB of memory.

An unsorted collection of 98 million domain registrations can be imported into a DawgGraph in 20 minutes and requires roughly 2 GB of RAM. Saved to disk, this graph takes 510 MB of disk space. Loading from disk to a DawgGraphReadonly takes a few seconds, with just over 1 GB of RAM consumed – well within the capabilities of a 32-bit machine.

For comparison, a string[] of the 98 million domain names consumes 2.5 GB in character data alone. Additionally, the .NET string instance overhead, which would total 1.5 GB on a 32-bit platform, means that this data cannot fit into the address space of a 32-bit process, requiring the use of a 64-bit machine and doubling the overhead to 3 GB, for a total of 5.5 GB.

Lookups in the form of Contains("someword") take on the order of 200 nanoseconds on this 98 million entry dataset – that's about 5 million lookups per second.

A third variant, DawgGraphStreamed, does not load the entire DAWG into RAM, and instead performs all lookups directly on disk, relying on the OS to perform efficient caching. This variant requires roughly 20 microseconds per lookup on the 98 million entry dataset (on average), although it helps that the OS has enough RAM to cache the file in its entirety. DawgGraphStreamed is only available on the unfinished "indexed" branch.


var g = new DawgGraph();
g.Contains("graphs"); // true

var gr = DawgGraphReadonly.Load("graph.dawg");
gr.Contains("great"); // true


This library is available to anyone under the GPL. If you require this library under a different license, please contact the author. If you require a specific feature or customization, this can also be arranged.