ArangoSearch Functions

Most ArangoSearch AQL functions take an expression or attribute path expression as argument.

If an expression is expected, it means that search conditions can expressed in AQL syntax. They are typically function calls to ArangoSearch search functions, possibly nested and/or using logical operators for multiple conditions.

You need the ANALYZER() function to wrap search (sub-)expressions to set the Analyzer for it, unless you want to use the default "identity" Analyzer. You might not need other ArangoSearch functions for certain expressions, because comparisons can be done with basic AQL comparison operators.

If an attribute path expressions is needed, then you have to reference a document object emitted by a View like FOR doc IN viewName and the specify which attribute you want to test for. For example doc.attr or doc.deeply.nested.attr. You can also use the bracket notation doc["attr"].

Search Functions

Search functions can be used in a SEARCH operation to form an ArangoSearch expression to filter a View. The functions control the ArangoSearch functionality without having a returnable value in AQL.

The TOKENS() function is an exception. It can be used standalone as well, without a SEARCH statement, and has a return value which can be used elsewhere in the query.

ANALYZER()

ANALYZER(expr, analyzer)

Sets the Analyzer for the given search expression. The default Analyzer is identity for any ArangoSearch expression. This utility function can be used to wrap a complex expression to set a particular Analyzer. It also sets it for all the nested functions which require such an argument to avoid repeating the Analyzer parameter. If an Analyzer argument is passed to a nested function regardless, then it takes precedence over the Analyzer set via ANALYZER().

The TOKENS() function is an exception, it requires the Analyzer name to be passed in all cases even if wrapped in an ANALYZER() call.

  • expr (expression): any valid search expression
  • analyzer (string): name of an Analyzer.
  • returns nothing: the function can only be called in a SEARCH operation and throws an error otherwise

Assuming a View definition with an Analyzer whose name and type is delimiter:

{
  "links": {
    "coll": {
      "analyzers": [ "delimiter" ],
      "includeAllFields": true,
    }
  },
  ...
}

… with the Analyzer properties { "delimiter": "|" } and an example document { "text": "foo|bar|baz" } in the collection coll, the following query would return the document:

FOR doc IN viewName
  SEARCH ANALYZER(doc.text == "bar", "delimiter")
  RETURN doc

The expression doc.text == "bar" has to be wrapped by ANALYZER() in order to set the Analyzer to delimiter. Otherwise the expression would be evaluated with the default identity Analyzer. "foo|bar|baz" == "bar" would not match, but the View does not even process the indexed fields with the identity Analyzer. The following query would also return an empty result because of the Analyzer mismatch:

FOR doc IN viewName
  SEARCH doc.text == "foo|bar|baz"
  //SEARCH ANALYZER(doc.text == "foo|bar|baz", "identity")
  RETURN doc

In below query, the search expression is swapped by ANALYZER() to set the text_en Analyzer for both PHRASE() functions:

FOR doc IN viewName
  SEARCH ANALYZER(PHRASE(doc.text, "foo") OR PHRASE(doc.text, "bar"), "text_en")
  RETURN doc

Without the usage of ANALYZER():

FOR doc IN viewName
  SEARCH PHRASE(doc.text, "foo", "text_en") OR PHRASE(doc.text, "bar", "text_en")
  RETURN doc

In the following example ANALYZER() is used to set the Analyzer text_en, but in the second call to PHRASE() a different Analyzer is set (identity) which overrules ANALYZER(). Therefore, the text_en Analyzer is used to find the phrase foo and the identity Analyzer to find bar:

FOR doc IN viewName
  SEARCH ANALYZER(PHRASE(doc.text, "foo") OR PHRASE(doc.text, "bar", "identity"), "text_en")
  RETURN doc

Despite the wrapping ANALYZER() function, the Analyzer name can not be omitted in calls to the TOKENS() function. Both occurrences of text_en are required, to set the Analyzer for the expression doc.text IN ... and for the TOKENS() function itself:

FOR doc IN viewName
  SEARCH ANALYZER(doc.text IN TOKENS("foo", "text_en"), "text_en")
  RETURN doc

BOOST()

BOOST(expr, boost)

Override boost in the context of a search expression with a specified value, making it available for scorer functions. By default, the context has a boost value equal to 1.0.

  • expr (expression): any valid search expression
  • boost (number): numeric boost value
  • returns nothing: the function can only be called in a SEARCH operation and throws an error otherwise
FOR doc IN viewName
  SEARCH ANALYZER(BOOST(doc.text == "foo", 2.5) OR doc.text == "bar", "text_en")
  LET score = BM25(doc)
  SORT score DESC
  RETURN { text: doc.text, score }

Assuming a View with the following documents indexed and processed by the text_en Analyzer:

{ "text": "foo bar" }
{ "text": "foo" }
{ "text": "bar" }
{ "text": "foo baz" }
{ "text": "baz" }

… the result of above query would be:

[
  {
    "text": "foo bar",
    "score": 2.787301540374756
  },
  {
    "text": "foo baz",
    "score": 1.6895781755447388
  },
  {
    "text": "foo",
    "score": 1.525835633277893
  },
  {
    "text": "bar",
    "score": 0.9913395643234253
  }
]

EXISTS()

EXISTS() will only match values when the specified attribute has been processed with the link property storeValues set to "id" in the View definition (the default is "none").

EXISTS(path)

Match documents where the attribute at path is present.

  • path (attribute path expression): the attribute to test in the document
  • returns nothing: the function can only be called in a SEARCH operation and throws an error otherwise
FOR doc IN viewName
  SEARCH EXISTS(doc.text)
  RETURN doc

EXISTS(path, type)

Match documents where the attribute at path is present and is of the specified data type.

  • path (attribute path expression): the attribute to test in the document
  • type (string): data type to test for, can be one of:
    • "null"
    • "bool" / "boolean"
    • "numeric"
    • "string"
    • "analyzer" (see below)
  • returns nothing: the function can only be called in a SEARCH operation and throws an error otherwise
FOR doc IN viewName
  SEARCH EXISTS(doc.text, "string")
  RETURN doc

EXISTS(path, "analyzer", analyzer)

Match documents where the attribute at path is present and was indexed by the specified analyzer.

  • path (attribute path expression): the attribute to test in the document
  • type (string): string literal "analyzer"
  • analyzer (string, optional): name of an Analyzer. Uses the Analyzer of a wrapping ANALYZER() call if not specified or defaults to "identity"
  • returns nothing: the function can only be called in a SEARCH operation and throws an error otherwise
FOR doc IN viewName
  SEARCH EXISTS(doc.text, "analyzer", "text_en")
  RETURN doc

IN_RANGE()

IN_RANGE(path, low, high, includeLow, includeHigh)

Match documents where the attribute at path is greater than (or equal to) low and less than (or equal to) high.

low and high can be numbers or strings (technically also null, true and false), but the data type must be the same for both.

  • path (attribute path expression): the path of the attribute to test in the document
  • low (number|string): minimum value of the desired range
  • high (number|string): maximum value of the desired range
  • includeLow (bool): whether the minimum value shall be included in the range (left-closed interval) or not (left-open interval)
  • includeHigh (bool): whether the maximum value shall be included in the range (right-closed interval) or not (right-open interval)
  • returns nothing: the function can only be called in a SEARCH operation and throws an error otherwise

If low and high are the same, but includeLow and/or includeHigh is set to true, then nothing will match. If low is greater than high nothing will match either.

To match documents with the attribute value >= 3 and value <= 5 using the default "identity" Analyzer you would write the following query:

FOR doc IN viewName
  SEARCH IN_RANGE(doc.value, 3, 5, true, true)
  RETURN doc.value

This will also match documents which have an array of numbers as value attribute where at least one of the numbers is in the specified boundaries.

Using string boundaries and a text Analyzer allows to match documents which have at least one token within the specified character range:

FOR doc IN valView
  SEARCH ANALYZER(IN_RANGE(doc.value, "a","f", true, false), "text_en")
  RETURN doc

This will match { "value": "bar" } and { "value": "foo bar" } because the b of bar is in the range ("a" <= "b" < "f"), but not { "value": "foo" } because the f of foo is excluded (high is “f” but includeHigh is false).

MIN_MATCH()

MIN_MATCH(expr1, ... exprN, minMatchCount)

Match documents where at least minMatchCount of the specified search expressions are satisfied.

  • expr (expression, repeatable): any valid search expression
  • minMatchCount (number): minimum number of search expressions that should be satisfied
  • returns nothing: the function can only be called in a SEARCH operation and throws an error otherwise

Assuming a View with a text Analyzer, you may use it to match documents where the attribute contains at least two out of three tokens:

FOR doc IN viewName
  SEARCH ANALYZER(MIN_MATCH(doc.text == 'quick', doc.text == 'brown', doc.text == 'fox', 2), "text_en")
  RETURN doc.text

This will match { "text": "the quick brown fox" } and { "text": "some brown fox" }, but not { "text": "snow fox" } which only fulfills one of the conditions.

PHRASE()

PHRASE(path, phrasePart, analyzer)

PHRASE(path, phrasePart1, skipTokens1, ... phrasePartN, skipTokensN, analyzer)

Search for a phrase in the referenced attribute. It only matches documents in which the tokens appear in the specified order. To search for tokens in any order use TOKENS() instead.

The phrase can be expressed as an arbitrary number of phraseParts separated by skipTokens number of tokens (wildcards).

  • path (attribute path expression): the attribute to test in the document
  • phrasePart (string): text to search for in the tokens. May consist of several words/tokens, which will be split using the specified analyzer
  • skipTokens (number, optional): amount of words/tokens to treat as wildcards
  • analyzer (string, optional): name of an Analyzer. Uses the Analyzer of a wrapping ANALYZER() call if not specified or defaults to "identity"
  • returns nothing: the function can only be called in a SEARCH operation and throws an error otherwise

Given a View indexing an attribute text with the "text_en" Analyzer and a document { "text": "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit" }, the following query would match it:

FOR doc IN viewName
  SEARCH PHRASE(doc.text, "lorem ipsum", "text_en")
  RETURN doc.text

However, this search expression does not because the tokens "ipsum" and "lorem" do not appear in this order:

PHRASE(doc.text, "ipsum lorem", "text_en")

To match "ipsum" and "amet" with any two tokens in between, you can use the following search expression:

PHRASE(doc.text, "ipsum", 2, "amet", "text_en")

The skipTokens value of 2 defines how many wildcard tokens have to appear between ipsum and amet. A skipTokens value of 0 means that the tokens must be adjacent. Negative values are allowed, but not very useful. These three search expressions are equivalent:

PHRASE(doc.text, "lorem ipsum", "text_en")
PHRASE(doc.text, "lorem", 0, "ipsum", "text_en")
PHRASE(doc.text, "ipsum", -1, "lorem", "text_en")

STARTS_WITH()

STARTS_WITH(path, prefix)

Match the value of the attribute that starts with prefix. If the attribute is processed by a tokenizing Analyzer (type "text" or "delimiter") or if it is an array, then a single token/element starting with the prefix is sufficient to match the document.

  • path (attribute path expression): the path of the attribute to compare against in the document
  • prefix (string): a string to search at the start of the text
  • returns nothing: the function can only be called in a SEARCH operation and throws an error otherwise

To match a document { "text": "lorem ipsum..." } using a prefix and the "identity" Analyzer you can use it like this:

FOR doc IN viewName
  SEARCH STARTS_WITH(doc.text, "lorem ip")
  RETURN doc

This query will match { "text": "lorem ipsum" } as well as { "text": [ "lorem", "ipsum" ] } given a View which indexes the text attribute and processes it with the "text_en" Analyzer:

FOR doc IN viewName
  SEARCH ANALYZER(STARTS_WITH(doc.text, "ips"), "text_en")
  RETURN doc.text

Note that it will not match { "text": "IPS (in-plane switching)" } because the Analyzer has stemming enabled, but the prefix was passed in as-is:

RETURN TOKENS("IPS (in-plane switching)", "text_en")
[
  [
    "ip",
    "in",
    "plane",
    "switch"
  ]
]

The s is removed from ips, which leads to the prefix ips not matching the indexed token ip. You may either create a custom text Analyzer with stemming disabled to avoid this issue, or apply stemming to the prefix:

FOR doc IN viewName
  SEARCH ANALYZER(STARTS_WITH(doc.text, TOKENS("ips", "text_en")[0]), "text_en")
  RETURN doc.text

TOKENS()

TOKENS(input, analyzer) → tokenArray

Split the input string with the help of the specified analyzer into an array. The resulting array can be used in FILTER or SEARCH statements with the IN operator, but also be assigned to variables and returned. This can be used to better understand how a specific Analyzer processes an input value.

It has a regular return value unlike all other ArangoSearch AQL functions and is thus not limited to SEARCH operations. It is independent of Views. A wrapping ANALYZER() call in a search expression does not affect the analyzer argument nor allow you to omit it.

  • input (string): text to tokenize
  • analyzer (string): name of an Analyzer.
  • returns tokenArray (array): array of strings with zero or more elements, each element being a token.

Example query showcasing the "text_de" Analyzer (tokenization with stemming, case conversion and accent removal for German text):

RETURN TOKENS("Lörem ipsüm, DOLOR SIT Ämet.", "text_de")
[
  [
    "lor",
    "ipsum",
    "dolor",
    "sit",
    "amet"
  ]
]

To search a View for documents where the text attribute contains certain words/tokens in any order, you can use the function like this:

FOR doc IN viewName
  SEARCH ANALYZER(doc.text IN TOKENS("dolor amet lorem", "text_en"), "text_en")
  RETURN doc

It will match { "text": "Lorem ipsum, dolor sit amet." } for instance. If you want to search for tokens in a particular order, use PHRASE() instead.

Scoring Functions

Scoring functions return a ranking value for the documents found by a SEARCH operation. The better the documents match the search expression the higher the returned number.

The first argument to any scoring function is always the document emitted by a FOR operation over an ArangoSearch View.

To sort the result set by relevance, with the more relevant documents coming first, sort in descending order by the score (e.g. SORT BM25(...) DESC).

You may calculate custom scores based on a scoring function using document attributes and numeric functions (e.g. TFIDF(doc) * LOG(doc.value)):

FOR movie IN imdbView
  SEARCH PHRASE(movie.title, "Star Wars", "text_en")
  SORT BM25(movie) * LOG(movie.runtime + 1) DESC
  RETURN movie

Sorting by more than one score is allowed. You may also sort by a mix of scores and attributes from multiple Views as well as collections:

FOR a IN viewA
  FOR c IN coll
    FOR b IN viewB
      SORT TFIDF(b), c.name, BM25(a)
      ...

BM25()

BM25(doc, k, b) → score

Sorts documents using the Best Matching 25 algorithm (BM25).

  • doc (document): must be emitted by FOR ... IN viewName
  • k (number, optional): calibrates the text term frequency scaling. The default is 1.2. A k value of 0 corresponds to a binary model (no term frequency), and a large value corresponds to using raw term frequency
  • b (number, optional): determines the scaling by the total text length. The default is 0.75. At the extreme values of the coefficient b, BM25 turns into the ranking functions known as:
    • BM11 for b = 1 (corresponds to fully scaling the term weight by the total text length)
    • BM15 for b = 0 (corresponds to no length normalization)
  • returns score (number): computed ranking value

Sorting by relevance with BM25 at default settings:

FOR doc IN viewName
  SEARCH ...
  SORT BM25(doc) DESC
  RETURN doc

Sorting by relevance, with double-weighted term frequency and with full text length normalization:

FOR doc IN viewName
  SEARCH ...
  SORT BM25(doc, 2.4, 1) DESC
  RETURN doc

TFIDF()

TFIDF(doc, normalize) → score

Sorts documents using the term frequency–inverse document frequency algorithm (TF-IDF).

  • doc (document): must be emitted by FOR ... IN viewName
  • normalize (bool, optional): specifies whether scores should be normalized. The default is false.
  • returns score (number): computed ranking value

Sort by relevance using the TF-IDF score:

FOR doc IN viewName
  SEARCH ...
  SORT TFIDF(doc) DESC
  RETURN doc

Sort by relevance using a normalized TF-IDF score:

FOR doc IN viewName
  SEARCH ...
  SORT TFIDF(doc, true) DESC
  RETURN doc

Sort by the value of the text attribute in ascending order, then by the TFIDF score in descending order where the attribute values are equivalent:

FOR doc IN viewName
  SEARCH ...
  SORT doc.text, TFIDF(doc) DESC
  RETURN doc