[SOLVED] Looking for efficient string replacement algorythm


I’m trying to create a string replacer that accepts multilpe replacements.

The ideia is that it would scan the string to find substrings and replace those substrings with another substring.

For example, I should be able to ask it to replace every "foo" for "bar". Doing that is trivial.

The issue starts when I’m trying to add multiple replacements for this function. Because if I ask it to replace "foo" for "bar" and "bar" for "biz", running those replacements in sequence would result in "foo" turning to "biz", and this behavior is unintended.

I tried splitting the string into words and running each replacement function in each word. However that’s not bullet proof either because still results in unintended behavior, since you can ask it to replace substrings that are not whole words. Also, I find that very inefficient.

I’m thinking in some way of running each replacer once in the whole string and sort of storing those changes and merging them. However I think I’m overengineering.

Searching on the web gives me trivial results on how to use string.replace with regular expressions, it doesn’t solve my problem.

Is this a problem already solved? Is there an algorithm that can be used here for this string manipulation efficiently?


If you modify your string while searching for all occurences of substrings to be replaced, you’ll end up modifying incorrect states of the string. An easy way out could be to get a list of all indexes to update first, then iterate over the indexes and make replacements. That way, indexes for "bar" would’ve been already computed, and won’t be affected even if you replace any substring with "bar" later.

Adding a rough Python implementation to give you an idea:

import re
string = "foo bar biz"
replacements = [("foo", "bar"), ("bar", "biz")]
replacement_indexes = []
offset = 0
for item in replacements:
    replacement_indexes.append([m.start() for m in re.finditer(item[0], string)])

temp = list(string)
for i in range(len(replacement_indexes)):
    old, new, indexes = replacements[i][0], replacements[i][1], replacement_indexes[i]
    for index in indexes:
        temp[offset+index:offset+index+len(old)] = list(new)
        offset += len(new)-len(old)

print(''.join(temp)) # "bar biz biz"    

Answered By – Abhinav Mathur

Answer Checked By – Marie Seifert (BugsFixing Admin)

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