Efficient Solving of Regular Expression Inequalities

by Matthias Keil and Peter Thiemann

This paper presents a new solution to the containment problem for extended regular expressions that extends basic regular expressions with intersection and complement operators and consider regular expressions on infinite alphabets based on potentially infinite character sets. Standard approaches deciding the containment do not take extended operators or character sets into account. The algorithm avoids the translation to an expression-equivalent automaton and provides a purely symbolic term rewriting systems for solving regular expressions inequalities.

We give a new symbolic decision procedure for the containment problem based on Brzozowski's regular expression derivatives and Antimirov's rewriting approach to check containment. We generalize Brzozowski's syntactic derivative operator to two derivative operators that work with respect to (potentially infinite) representable character sets.

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