Theor. Comput. Sci.
We are interested in regular expressions that represent word relations in an alphabet-invariant way—for example, the set of all word pairs (u,v) where v is a prefix of u independently of what the alphabet is. Current software systems of formal language objects do not have a mechanism to define such objects. Labelled graphs (transducers and automata) with alphabet-invariant and user-defined labels were considered in a recent paper. In this paper we study derivatives of regular expressions over labels (atomic objects) in some set B. These labels can be any strings as long as the strings represent subsets of a certain monoid. We show that the number of partial derivatives of any type B regular expression is linearly bounded, and that one can define partial derivative labelled graphs, whose transition labels can be elements of another label set X as long as X and B refer to the same monoid. We also show how to use derivatives directly to decide whether a given word is in the language of a regular expression over set specs. Set specs and pairing specs are label sets allowing one to express languages and relations over large alphabets in a natural and concise way such that many algorithms work directly on these labels without the need to expand these labels to linear or quadratic size expressions. © 2020 Elsevier B.V.
Year of publication: 2021