How to Link Millions of Addresses with Ten Lines of Code in Ten Minutes

Solving big hairy problems like detecting complex financial crimes requires solving a series of smaller, mundane but technically non-trivial problems. Performing efficient record linkage on large databases with tens to hundreds of millions of rows of data is one such pesky problem. A few of my colleagues have just made a small dent on the overall problem and the solution is described in a paper titled

Exploiting Redundancy, Recurrence and Parallelism: How to Link Millions of Addresses with Ten Lines of Code in Ten Minutes

that has been accepted at this year’s Australasian Data Mining Conference.

Here’s the abstract of the paper:

Accurate and efficient record linkage is an open challenge of particular relevance to Australian Government Agencies, who recognise that so-called wicked social problems are best tackled by forming partnerships founded on large-scale data fusion. Names and addresses are the most common attributes on which data from different government agencies can be linked. In this paper, we focus on the problem of address linking. Linkage is particularly problematic when the data has significant quality issues. The most common approach for dealing with quality issues is to standardise raw data prior to linking. If a mistake is made in standardisation, however, it is usually impossible to recover from it to perform linkage correctly. This paper proposes a novel algorithm for address linking that is particularly practical for linking large disparate sets of addresses, being highly scalable, robust to data quality issues and simple to implement. It obviates the need for labour intensive and problematic address standardisation. We demonstrate the efficacy of the algorithm by matching two large address datasets from two government agencies with good accuracy and computational efficiency.


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