Combinatorics, Probability and Computing

Research Article

Fast String Matching in Stationary Ergodic Sources

John Shawe-Taylora1

a1 Department of Computer Science, Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX, UK e-mail:


A connection is made between the theory of ergodicity and the expected complexity of string searching. In particular, a substring search algorithm is introduced which, when applied to searching in text that has been produced by an appropriate stationary ergodic source, has an expected running time of O((N/m + m)logm), for a text string of length N and search string of length m. Similar expected complexity results have been obtained before, but the analysis is performed in a significantly more general framework, which models with greater accuracy the statistics of many types of strings, including natural language. The analysis also sheds light on the performance of the Boyer-Moore algorithm and the Sunday algorithm when applied to natural language.

(Received June 08 1994)

(Revised August 04 1994)