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Faster Approximate Pattern Matching: A Unified Approach


Wellnitz,  Philip
Algorithms and Complexity, MPI for Informatics, Max Planck Society;

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Charalampopoulos, P., Kociumaka, T., & Wellnitz, P. (2020). Faster Approximate Pattern Matching: A Unified Approach. Retrieved from https://arxiv.org/abs/2004.08350.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-8C63-C
Approximate pattern matching is a natural and well-studied problem on strings: Given a text $T$, a pattern $P$, and a threshold $k$, find (the starting positions of) all substrings of $T$ that are at distance at most $k$ from $P$. We consider the two most fundamental string metrics: the Hamming distance and the edit distance. Under the Hamming distance, we search for substrings of $T$ that have at most $k$ mismatches with $P$, while under the edit distance, we search for substrings of $T$ that can be transformed to $P$ with at most $k$ edits. Exact occurrences of $P$ in $T$ have a very simple structure: If we assume for simplicity that $|T| \le 3|P|/2$ and trim $T$ so that $P$ occurs both as a prefix and as a suffix of $T$, then both $P$ and $T$ are periodic with a common period. However, an analogous characterization for the structure of occurrences with up to $k$ mismatches was proved only recently by Bringmann et al. [SODA'19]: Either there are $O(k^2)$ $k$-mismatch occurrences of $P$ in $T$, or both $P$ and $T$ are at Hamming distance $O(k)$ from strings with a common period $O(m/k)$. We tighten this characterization by showing that there are $O(k)$ $k$-mismatch occurrences in the case when the pattern is not (approximately) periodic, and we lift it to the edit distance setting, where we tightly bound the number of $k$-edit occurrences by $O(k^2)$ in the non-periodic case. Our proofs are constructive and let us obtain a unified framework for approximate pattern matching for both considered distances. We showcase the generality of our framework with results for the fully-compressed setting (where $T$ and $P$ are given as a straight-line program) and for the dynamic setting (where we extend a data structure of Gawrychowski et al. [SODA'18]).