This algorithm calculates the distance between two strings, however they have to be of equal length.

It measures the minimum number of substitutions for the two strings to be equal.

It is used in telecommunication (also know as signal distance), it is also used in systematics as a measure of genetic distance.

Wikipedia entry can be found here:

public class Hamming
{
private String compOne;
private String compTwo;
public Hamming(String one, String two)
{
compOne = one;
compTwo = two;
}
///
// Calculating the Hamming Distance for two strings requires the string to be of the same length.
///
public int getHammingDistance()
{
if (compOne.length() != compTwo.length())
{
return -1;
}
int counter = 0;
for (int i = 0; i < compOne.length(); i++)
{
if (compOne.charAt(i) != compTwo.charAt(i)) counter++;
}
return counter;
}
///
// Hamming distance works best with binary comparisons, this function takes a string arrary of binary
// values and returns the minimum distance value
///
public int minDistance(String[] numbers)
{
int minDistance = Integer.MAX_VALUE;
if (checkConstraints(numbers))
{
for (int i = 1; i < numbers.length; i++)
{
int counter = 0;
for (int j = 1; j <= numbers[i].length(); j++)
{
if (numbers[i-1].charAt(j-1) != numbers[i].charAt(j-1))
{
counter++;
}
}
if (counter == 0) return counter;
if (counter < minDistance) minDistance = counter;
}
}
else
{
return -1;
}
return minDistance;
}
private Boolean checkConstraints(String[] numbers)
{
if (numbers.length > 1 && numbers.length <=50)
{
int prevLength = -1;
for (int i = 0; i < numbers.length; i++)
{
if (numbers[i].length() > 0 && numbers[i].length() <= 50)
{
if (prevLength == -1)
{
prevLength = numbers[i].length();
}
else
{
if (prevLength != numbers[i].length())
{
return false;
}
}
for (int j = 0; j < numbers[i].length(); j++)
{
if (numbers[i].charAt(j) != '0' && numbers[i].charAt(j) != '1')
{
return false;
}
}
}
else
{
return false;
}
}
}
else
{
return false;
}
return true;
}
}