KDD Papers

An Alternative to NCD for Large Sequences, Lempel-Ziv Jaccard Distance

Edward Raff (Laboratory for Physical Sciences);Charles Nicholas (University of Maryland Baltimore County)


The Normalized Compression Distance (NCD) has been used in a number of domains to compare objects with varying feature types. This flexibility comes from the use of general purpose compression algorithms as the means of computing distances between byte sequences. Such flexibility makes NCD particularly attractive for cases where the right features to use are not obvious, such as malware classification. However, NCD can be computationally demanding, thereby restricting the scale at which it can be applied. We introduce an alternative metric also inspired by compression, the Lempel-Ziv Jaccard Distance (LZJD). We show that this new distance has desirable theoretical properties, as well as comparable or superior performance for malware classification, while being easy to implement and orders of magnitude faster in practice.