The Inclusion Problem for Regular Expressions
This paper presents a new polynomial-time algorithm for the inclusion problem for certain pairs of regular expressions. The algorithm is not based on construction of finite automata, and can therefore be faster than the lower bound implied by the Myhill-Nerode theorem. The algorithm automatically discards unnecessary parts of the right-hand expression. In these cases the right-hand expression might even be 1-ambiguous. For example, if r is a regular expression such that any DFA recognizing r is very large, the algorithm can still, in time independent of r, decide that the language of ab is included in that of (a + r)b. The algorithm is based on a syntax-directed inference system. It takes arbitrary regular expressions as input, and if the 1-ambiguity of the right-hand expression becomes a problem, the algorithm will report this.
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