Introduction to Stemming

Stemming is the process of producing morphological variants of a root/base word. Stemming programs are commonly referred to as stemming algorithms or stemmers. A stemming algorithm reduces the words “chocolates”, “chocolatey”, “choco” to the root word, “chocolate” and “retrieval”, “retrieved”, “retrieves” reduce to the stem “retrieve”.

 Some more example of stemming for root word "like" include:

Errors in Stemming:
There are mainly two errors in stemming –

  • over-stemming
  • under-stemming

Over-stemming occurs when two words are stemmed to same root that are of different stems. Over-stemming can also be regarded as false-positives.

Under-stemming occurs when two words are stemmed to same root that are not of different stems. Under-stemming can be interpreted as false-negatives.

Applications of stemming :

  1. Stemming is used in information retrieval systems like search engines.
  2. It is used to determine domain vocabularies in domain analysis.

Fun Fact : Google search adopted word stemming in 2003. Previously a search for “fish” would not have returned “fishing” or “fishes”.

Some Stemming algorithms are:

  • Porter’s Stemmer algorithm
    It is one of the most popular stemming methods proposed in 1980. It is based on the idea that the suffixes in the English language are made up of a combination of smaller and simpler suffixes.
    Example: EED -> EE means “if the word has at least one vowel and consonant plus EED ending, change the ending to EE” as ‘agreed’ becomes ‘agree’.

    Advantage: It produces the best output as compared to other stemmers and it has less error rate.
    Limitation:  Morphological variants produced are not always real words.
  • Lovins Stemmer
    It is proposed by Lovins in 1968, that removes the longest suffix from a word then word is recoded to convert this stem into valid words.
    Example: sitting -> sitt -> sit

    Advantage: It is fast and handles irregular plurals like 'teeth' and 'tooth' etc.
    Limitation: It is time consuming and frequently fails to form words from stem.
  • Dawson Stemmer
    It is extension of Lovins stemmer in which suffixes are stored in the reversed order indexed by their length and last letter.

    Advantage: It is fast in execution and covers more suffices.
    Limitation: It is very complex to implement.
  • Krovetz Stemmer
    It was proposed in 1993 by Robert Krovetz. Following are the steps:
    1) Convert the plural form of a word to its singular form.
    2) Convert the past tense of a word to its present tense and remove the suffix ‘ing’.
    Example: ‘children’ -> ‘child’

    Advantage: It is light in nature and can be used as pre-stemmer for other stemmers.
    Limitation: It is inefficient in case of large documents.
  • Xerox Stemmer

    • ‘children’ -> ‘child’
    • ‘understood’ -> ‘understand’
    • ‘whom’ -> ‘who’
    • ‘best’ -> ‘good’
    Advantage: It works well in case of large documents and stems produced are valid.
    Limitation: It is language dependent and mainly implemented on english and over stemming may occur.
  • N-Gram Stemmer
    An n-gram is a set of n consecutive characters extracted from a word in which similar words will have a high proportion of n-grams in common.
    Example: ‘INTRODUCTIONS’ for n=2 becomes : *I, IN, NT, TR, RO, OD, DU, UC, CT, TI, IO, ON, NS, S*

    Advantage: It is based on string comparisons and it is language dependent.
    Limitation: It requires space to create and index the n-grams and it is not time efficient.

Reference: A Comparative Study of Stemming Algorithms

My Personal Notes arrow_drop_up

Check out this Author's contributed articles.

If you like GeeksforGeeks and would like to contribute, you can also write an article using or mail your article to See your article appearing on the GeeksforGeeks main page and help other Geeks.

Please Improve this article if you find anything incorrect by clicking on the "Improve Article" button below.

Improved By : petronav73939133