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ABAP Keyword Documentation →  ABAP − Reference →  Processing Internal Data →  Character String and Byte String Processing →  Expressions and Functions for String Processing →  String Functions →  Description Functions for Character-Like Arguments 

distance - Distance Function

Other versions: 7.31 | 7.40 | 7.54


... distance( val1 = text1
val2 = text2 [max = max] ) ...


This function returns the Levenshtein distance between two strings text1 and text2. This distance is the minimum number of insert, delete, and replace operations required to change one string to another and hence reflects the similarity of the two strings. The return value has the type i.

max can be used to declare a positive value other than 0; the calculation of the Levenshtein distance is canceled if the distance is greater than max. The value of max is returned instead. max is a numeric expression position of the type i. If the value of max is less than or equal to 0, an exception of the class CX_SY_STRG_PAR_VAL is raised. If max is not specified, the calculation is not terminated


  • The complexity of the function increases in line with the product of the lengths of the two strings. The calculation time can be limited by declaring max.

  • One typical application of this function is to find a word in a word set that is most similar to a word entered in a search.


The result of the following function calls is 0, 1, and 3.

DATA(result1) = distance( val1 = `abcdefg` val2 = `abcdefg` ). 
DATA(result2) = distance( val1 = `abcdefg` val2 = `abcXefg` ). 
DATA(result3) = distance( val1 = `abcdefg` val2 = `aXcdXXg` ).

Executable Example

String Functions, distance


Handleable Exceptions


  • Cause: Value in max is less than or equal to 0.
    Runtime error: STRG_ILLEGAL_PAR