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This paper proposes a quick method of similarity-based signal searching to detect and locate a specific audio or video signal given as a query in a stored long audio or video signal. With existing techniques, similarity-based searching may become impractical in terms of computing time in the case of searching through long-running (several-days' worth of) signals. The proposed algorithm, which is referred to as time-series active search, offers significantly faster search with sufficient accuracy. The key to the acceleration is an effective pruning algorithm introduced in the histogram matching stage. Through the pruning, the actual number of matching calculations can be reduced by 200 to 500 times compared with exhaustive search while guaranteeing exactly the same search result. Experiments show that the proposed method can correctly detect and locate a 15-s signal in a 48-h recording of TV broadcasts within 1 s, once the feature vectors are calculated and quantized. As extentions of the basic algorithm, efficient AND/OR search methods for searching for multiple query signals and a feature dithering method for coping with signal distortion are also discussed.