Zebra Factorizations in Free Semigroups
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Let $S$ be a semigroup of words over an alphabet $A$. Let $\Omega(S)$ consist of those elements $w$ of $S$ for which every prefix and suffix of $w$ belongs to $S$. We show that $\Omega(S)$ is a free semigroup. Moreover, $S$ is called separative if also the complement $S^c = A^+\setminus S$ is a semigroup. There are uncountably many separative semigroups over $A$, if $A$ has at least two letters. We prove that if $S$ is separative, then every word $w \in A^+$ has a unique minimum factorization $w = z_1z_2 \cdots z_n$ with respect to $\Omega(S)$ and $\Omega(S^c)$, where $z_i \in \Omega(S) \cup \Omega(S^c)$ and $n$ is as small as possible.
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