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**Published in:** LIPIcs, Volume 259, 34th Annual Symposium on Combinatorial Pattern Matching (CPM 2023)

An elastic-degenerate (ED) string T is a sequence of n sets T[1],…,T[n] containing m strings in total whose cumulative length is N. We call n, m, and N the length, the cardinality and the size of T, respectively. The language of T is defined as ℒ(T) = {S_1 ⋯ S_n : S_i ∈ T[i] for all i ∈ [1,n]}. ED strings have been introduced to represent a set of closely-related DNA sequences, also known as a pangenome. The basic question we investigate here is: Given two ED strings, how fast can we check whether the two languages they represent have a nonempty intersection? We call the underlying problem the ED String Intersection (EDSI) problem. For two ED strings T₁ and T₂ of lengths n₁ and n₂, cardinalities m₁ and m₂, and sizes N₁ and N₂, respectively, we show the following:
- There is no 𝒪((N₁N₂)^{1-ε})-time algorithm, thus no 𝒪((N₁m₂+N₂m₁)^{1-ε})-time algorithm and no 𝒪((N₁n₂+N₂n₁)^{1-ε})-time algorithm, for any constant ε > 0, for EDSI even when T₁ and T₂ are over a binary alphabet, unless the Strong Exponential-Time Hypothesis is false.
- There is no combinatorial 𝒪((N₁+N₂)^{1.2-ε}f(n₁,n₂))-time algorithm, for any constant ε > 0 and any function f, for EDSI even when T₁ and T₂ are over a binary alphabet, unless the Boolean Matrix Multiplication conjecture is false.
- An 𝒪(N₁log N₁log n₁+N₂log N₂log n₂)-time algorithm for outputting a compact (RLE) representation of the intersection language of two unary ED strings. In the case when T₁ and T₂ are given in a compact representation, we show that the problem is NP-complete.
- An 𝒪(N₁m₂+N₂m₁)-time algorithm for EDSI.
- An Õ(N₁^{ω-1}n₂+N₂^{ω-1}n₁)-time algorithm for EDSI, where ω is the exponent of matrix multiplication; the Õ notation suppresses factors that are polylogarithmic in the input size.
We also show that the techniques we develop have applications outside of ED string comparison.

Esteban Gabory, Moses Njagi Mwaniki, Nadia Pisanti, Solon P. Pissis, Jakub Radoszewski, Michelle Sweering, and Wiktor Zuba. Comparing Elastic-Degenerate Strings: Algorithms, Lower Bounds, and Applications. In 34th Annual Symposium on Combinatorial Pattern Matching (CPM 2023). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 259, pp. 11:1-11:20, Schloss Dagstuhl - Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2023)

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@InProceedings{gabory_et_al:LIPIcs.CPM.2023.11, author = {Gabory, Esteban and Mwaniki, Moses Njagi and Pisanti, Nadia and Pissis, Solon P. and Radoszewski, Jakub and Sweering, Michelle and Zuba, Wiktor}, title = {{Comparing Elastic-Degenerate Strings: Algorithms, Lower Bounds, and Applications}}, booktitle = {34th Annual Symposium on Combinatorial Pattern Matching (CPM 2023)}, pages = {11:1--11:20}, series = {Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs)}, ISBN = {978-3-95977-276-1}, ISSN = {1868-8969}, year = {2023}, volume = {259}, editor = {Bulteau, Laurent and Lipt\'{a}k, Zsuzsanna}, publisher = {Schloss Dagstuhl -- Leibniz-Zentrum f{\"u}r Informatik}, address = {Dagstuhl, Germany}, URL = {https://drops.dagstuhl.de/entities/document/10.4230/LIPIcs.CPM.2023.11}, URN = {urn:nbn:de:0030-drops-179650}, doi = {10.4230/LIPIcs.CPM.2023.11}, annote = {Keywords: elastic-degenerate string, sequence comparison, languages intersection, pangenome, acronym identification} }

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**Published in:** LIPIcs, Volume 223, 33rd Annual Symposium on Combinatorial Pattern Matching (CPM 2022)

Let Substr_k(X) denote the set of length-k substrings of a given string X for a given integer k > 0. We study the following basic string problem, called z-Shortest 𝒮_k-Equivalent Strings: Given a set 𝒮_k of n length-k strings and an integer z > 0, list z shortest distinct strings T₁,…,T_z such that Substr_k(T_i) = 𝒮_k, for all i ∈ [1,z]. The z-Shortest 𝒮_k-Equivalent Strings problem arises naturally as an encoding problem in many real-world applications; e.g., in data privacy, in data compression, and in bioinformatics. The 1-Shortest 𝒮_k-Equivalent Strings, referred to as Shortest 𝒮_k-Equivalent String, asks for a shortest string X such that Substr_k(X) = 𝒮_k.
Our main contributions are summarized below:
- Given a directed graph G(V,E), the Directed Chinese Postman (DCP) problem asks for a shortest closed walk that visits every edge of G at least once. DCP can be solved in 𝒪̃(|E||V|) time using an algorithm for min-cost flow. We show, via a non-trivial reduction, that if Shortest 𝒮_k-Equivalent String over a binary alphabet has a near-linear-time solution then so does DCP.
- We show that the length of a shortest string output by Shortest 𝒮_k-Equivalent String is in 𝒪(k+n²). We generalize this bound by showing that the total length of z shortest strings is in 𝒪(zk+zn²+z²n). We derive these upper bounds by showing (asymptotically tight) bounds on the total length of z shortest Eulerian walks in general directed graphs.
- We present an algorithm for solving z-Shortest 𝒮_k-Equivalent Strings in 𝒪(nk+n²log²n+zn²log n+|output|) time. If z = 1, the time becomes 𝒪(nk+n²log²n) by the fact that the size of the input is Θ(nk) and the size of the output is 𝒪(k+n²).

Giulia Bernardini, Alessio Conte, Esteban Gabory, Roberto Grossi, Grigorios Loukides, Solon P. Pissis, Giulia Punzi, and Michelle Sweering. On Strings Having the Same Length- k Substrings. In 33rd Annual Symposium on Combinatorial Pattern Matching (CPM 2022). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 223, pp. 16:1-16:17, Schloss Dagstuhl - Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2022)

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@InProceedings{bernardini_et_al:LIPIcs.CPM.2022.16, author = {Bernardini, Giulia and Conte, Alessio and Gabory, Esteban and Grossi, Roberto and Loukides, Grigorios and Pissis, Solon P. and Punzi, Giulia and Sweering, Michelle}, title = {{On Strings Having the Same Length- k Substrings}}, booktitle = {33rd Annual Symposium on Combinatorial Pattern Matching (CPM 2022)}, pages = {16:1--16:17}, series = {Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs)}, ISBN = {978-3-95977-234-1}, ISSN = {1868-8969}, year = {2022}, volume = {223}, editor = {Bannai, Hideo and Holub, Jan}, publisher = {Schloss Dagstuhl -- Leibniz-Zentrum f{\"u}r Informatik}, address = {Dagstuhl, Germany}, URL = {https://drops.dagstuhl.de/entities/document/10.4230/LIPIcs.CPM.2022.16}, URN = {urn:nbn:de:0030-drops-161439}, doi = {10.4230/LIPIcs.CPM.2022.16}, annote = {Keywords: string algorithms, combinatorics on words, de Bruijn graph, Chinese Postman} }

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