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MathGroup Archive 2003

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Finding the closest number from a list

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg39510] Finding the closest number from a list
  • From: jrome at (Jacob Rome)
  • Date: Thu, 20 Feb 2003 05:14:29 -0500 (EST)
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at


I have a seemingly simple problem. I want to find the element in a
list that is closest to a number I specify. In my case, I have a list
of about 30,000 numbers (y[i]). I want to find the closest match for
each of about 10,000 other numbers (call them x[i]). Obviously, speed
is important. I've sorted the large list, and right now I'm going
through each y[i] from lowest to highest and testing it to see if x[i]
is less than that value. This takes about .1 seconds for each x[i].

I'm wondering if anyone has had a similar problem, and if there is a
better function built-in to Mathematica. Alternatetively, I could
build my own. I've just recently realized that I could also reduce the
search time considerably if I sort the x[i] list as well, and only
start my search from where I last left off.  Any ideas on which
approach would be more efficient? Thanks.

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