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Python: How do I check if a string is a prefix of any possible other string that matches a given regex.

+4 votes
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Probably I'm turning the use of regular expressions upside down with this question. I don't want to write a regex that matches prefixes of other strings, I know how to do that. I want to generate a regex -- given another regex --, that matches all possible strings that are a prefix of a string that matches the given regex.

E.g. You have the regex ^[a-z]*4R$ then the strings "a", "ab", "A4" "ab4" are prefixes of this regex (because there is a way of adding characters that causes the regex to match), but "4a" or "a44" or not.
How do I programmatically create a regex that matches "a", "ab", "A4", etc.. but not "4a", "a44", etc..

Logically, I'd think it should be possible by running the input string against the state machine that the given regex describes, and if at some point all the input characters are consumed, it's a match. (We don't have to run the regex until the end.) But I cannot find any library that does it...

posted Oct 7, 2014 by anonymous

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