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Okapi BM25 for SQLite3

This SQLite extension creates a SQL function called okapi_bm25 that returns the Okapi BM25 ranking for results of a full-text search. Okapi BM25 is a modern ranking function that calculates a score for each result based on its relevance to the search query. This extension only works with MATCH queries on FTS4 tables.


The extension must first be compiled from the source:

$ make
gcc -Wall -Werror -bundle -fPIC -Isqlite3 -o okapi_bm25.sqlext okapi_bm25.c

The compiled okapi_bm25.sqlext file can then be loaded as a SQLite extension. The way you do this depends on the language you're using. For example, the node-sqlite3 bindings have a special extension API you can call at the start of your program. If you're using SQLite from the console, you use the .load command to load the extension for the current session:

sqlite> .load ./okapi_bm25.sqlext


okapi_bm25(matchinfo, searchColumn [, k1] [, b])

The ranking function uses the built-in matchinfo function to obtain the data necessary to calculate the scores. A simple search query might look like this:

SELECT title FROM documents
  WHERE title MATCH <query>
  ORDER BY okapi_bm25(matchinfo(documents, 'pcnalx'), 0) DESC

The matchinfo function must be called with 'pcnalx' as the second argument. This argument defines the structure of the data given to the okapi_bm25 function, which accepts the data in only one form. If the matchinfo function is called with a different second argument, the extension may provide incorrect results or fail to work entirely.

The okapi_bm25 function only calculates the score for one column at a time. The searchColumn argument, provided as 0 in the example above, specifies the column it will use. The number is the index of the column within the FTS table. Here's a schema for the example above:

CREATE VIRTUAL TABLE documents USING fts4(title, content);

In this schema, the title column is at index 0 because it is the first column listed. If the order were reversed, the correct index for title would be 1.

The last two optional arguments, k1 and b, are free parameters specific to the Okapi BM25 algorithm. The default values are k1 = 1.2 and b = 0.75. You can tweak these for advanced optimization, but the defaults will probably work fine.


Okapi BM25 for SQLite3 is released under the MIT License.