Ever tried to connect two data sets where the identifier is not precisely the same for the two tables? If this strikes a familiar chord with you, you have probably tried to perform fuzzy matching, whereby modellers seek to link two similar data entries, e.g. “SumProduct Pty Limited” should be connected to “sum product ltd”.
Launched just recently, the Fuzzy Lookup Add-In for Excel was developed by Microsoft Research and performs fuzzy matching of textual data in Microsoft Excel. It can be used to identify fuzzy duplicate rows within a single table or to fuzzy join similar rows between two different tables. The matching is robust to a wide variety of errors including spelling mistakes, abbreviations, synonyms and added / missing data.
While the default configuration works well for a wide variety of textual data, such as product names or customer addresses, the matching may also be customised for specific domains or languages too.
The add-in is available for Excel 2010 onwards and along with an example Excel file and high-level instructions, you can download it from the Microsoft website.