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# N-gram and Fast Pattern Extraction Algorithm

, 31 Oct 2007 GPL3
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This article demonstrates N-gram construction and Fast Text Pattern Extraction using a modified LZW algorithm.

## Introduction

In this article, I introduce a very fast algorithm to extract text patterns from large size text and give statistical information about patterns' frequency and length. Actually, the idea of this algorithm came to me when one of my friends asked me to give him an idea for extracting patterns from text. I told him immediately that he could use the LZW compression algorithm, take the final dictionary and drop the compressed buffer, and then he could have a dictionary containing all text patterns with each pattern frequency. I don't know if he understood me or not, but I decided to do it later. If pattern word count is fixed (N), then it is a generation for N-gram of the input sequence.

## Background

### N-gram

An n-gram is a sub-sequence of n items from a given sequence. n-grams are used in various areas of statistical natural language processing and genetic sequence analysis. The items in question can be characters, words or base pairs according to the application. For example, the sequence of characters "Hatem mostafa helmy" has a 3-gram of ("Hat", "ate", "tem", "em ", "m m", ...), and has a 2-gram of ("Ha", "at", "te", "em", "m ", " m", ...). This n-gram output can be used for a variety of R&D subjects, such as Statistical machine translation and Spell checking.

### Pattern Extraction

Pattern extraction is the process of parsing a sequence of items to find or extract a certain pattern of items. Pattern length can be fixed, as in the n-gram model, or it can be variable. Variable length patterns can be directives to certain rules, like regular expressions. They can also be random and depend on the context and pattern repetition in the patterns dictionary.

## Algorithm Idea for Variable Length Pattern Extraction

The algorithm introduced here is derived from the LZW compression algorithm, which includes a magic idea about generating dictionary items at compression time while parsing the input sequence. If you have no idea about LZW, you can check it out at my article, Fast LZW compression. And of course, the algorithm inherits the speed of my implementation to LZW, plus extra speed for two reasons:

1. The parsing item is a word, not a letter
2. There's no destination buffer, as there is no need for a compressed buffer

The algorithm uses a binary tree to keep extracted patterns that give the algorithm excellent speed at run-time to find and fetch new items to the dictionary. Let us discuss the algorithm pseudo code. We have some figures to clarify the idea with an algorithm flow chart and a simple example.

Example: the input words sequence `w0w1w2w3w4w0w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6 `

Assume `n` equals 2; then the initial pattern will be `w0w1`. After applying the algorithm steps, the resultant dictionary would be as in the fourth column:

 Input Sequence Pattern Step Dictionary Frequency `w0w1w2w3w4w0w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w0w1` Words available? `w0w1w2w3w4w0w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w0w1` Add to dictionary `w0w1` 3 `w0w1w2w3w4w0w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w0w1` Pattern exists? `w1w2w3w4w0w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w1w2` Take new pattern `w1w2w3w4w0w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w1w2` Words available? `w1w2w3w4w0w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w1w2` Add to dictionary `w1w2` 1 `w1w2w3w4w0w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w1w2` Pattern exists? `w2w3w4w0w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w2w3` Take new pattern `w2w3w4w0w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w2w3` Words available? `w2w3w4w0w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w2w3` Add to dictionary `w2w3` 2 `w2w3w4w0w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w2w3` Pattern exists? `w3w4w0w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w3w4` Take new pattern `w3w4w0w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w3w4` Words available? `w3w4w0w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w3w4` Add to dictionary `w3w4` 2 `w3w4w0w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w3w4` Pattern exists? `w4w0w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w4w0` Take new pattern `w4w0w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w4w0` Words available? `w4w0w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w4w0` Add to dictionary `w4w0` 2 `w4w0w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w4w0` Pattern exists? `w0w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w0w1` Take new pattern `w0w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w0w1` Words available? `w0w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w0w1` Add to dictionary `w0w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w0w1` Pattern exists? `w0w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w0w1w5` Add word to pattern `w0w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w0w1w5` Words available? `w0w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w0w1w5` Add to dictionary `w0w1w5` 2 `w0w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w0w1w5` Pattern exists? `w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w1w5` Take new pattern `w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w1w5` Words available? `w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w1w5` Add to dictionary `w1w5` 2 `w1w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w1w5` Pattern exists? `w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w5w6` Take new pattern `w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w5w6` Words available? `w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w5w6` Add to dictionary `w5w6` 1 `w5w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w5w6` Pattern exists? `w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w6w7` Take new pattern `w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w6w7` Words available? `w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w6w7` Add to dictionary `w6w7` 1 `w6w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w6w7` Pattern exists? `w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w7w2` Take new pattern `w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w7w2` Words available? `w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w7w2` Add to dictionary `w7w2` 1 `w7w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w7w2` Pattern exists? `w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w2w3` Take new pattern `w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w2w3` Words available? `w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w2w3` Add to dictionary `w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w2w3` Pattern exists? `w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w2w3w4` Add word to pattern `w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w2w3w4` Words available? `w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w2w3w4` Add to dictionary `w2w3w4` 1 `w2w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w2w3w4` Pattern exists? `w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w3w4` Take new pattern `w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w3w4` Words available? `w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w3w4` Add to dictionary `w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w3w4` Pattern exists? `w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w3w4w0` Add word to pattern `w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w3w4w0` Words available? `w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w3w4w0` Add to dictionary `w3w4w0` 1 `w3w4w0w1w5w6` `w3w4w0` Pattern exists? `w4w0w1w5w6` `w4w0` Take new pattern `w4w0w1w5w6` `w4w0` Words available? `w4w0w1w5w6` `w4w0` Add to dictionary `w4w0w1w5w6` `w4w0` Pattern exists? `w4w0w1w5w6` `w4w0w1` Add word to pattern `w4w0w1w5w6` `w4w0w1` Words available? `w4w0w1w5w6` `w4w0w1` Add to dictionary `w4w0w1` 1 `w4w0w1w5w6` `w4w0w1` Pattern exists? `w0w1w5w6` `w0w1` Take new pattern `w0w1w5w6` `w0w1` Words available? `w0w1w5w6` `w0w1` Add to dictionary `w0w1w5w6` `w0w1` Pattern exists? `w0w1w5w6` `w0w1w5` Add word to pattern `w0w1w5w6` `w0w1w5` Words available? `w0w1w5w6` `w0w1w5` Add to dictionary `w0w1w5w6` `w0w1w5` Pattern exists? `w0w1w5w6` `w0w1w5w6` Add word to pattern `w0w1w5w6` `w0w1w5w6` Words available? `w0w1w5w6` `w0w1w5w6` Add to dictionary `w0w1w5w6` 1 `w0w1w5w6` `w0w1w5w6` Pattern exists? `w1w5w6` `w1w5` Take new pattern `w1w5w6` `w1w5` Add to dictionary `w1w5w6` `w1w5` Pattern exists? `w1w5w6` `w1w5w6` Add word to pattern `w1w5w6` `w1w5w6` Words available? `w1w5w6` `w1w5w6` Add to dictionary `w1w5w6` 1 `w1w5w6` `w1w5w6` Pattern exists? `w5w6` `w5w6` Take new pattern `w5w6` `w5w6` Words available? `w5w6` `w5w6` Add to dictionary `w5w6` `w5w6` Pattern exists? Take new pattern Words available? Exit

## Algorithm Pseudo Code

```ConstructPatterns(src, delimiters, n, fixed)
{
des = AllocateBuffer()
Copy(des, src)
dic = InitializePatternsDictionary()

pattern = InitializeNewPattern(des)
While(des)
{
node = dic.Insert(pattern)
if(!fixed AND node.IsRepeated)
else
pattern = InitializeNewPattern(des)
UpdateBuffer(des)
}
}```

## Code Description

### ConstructPatterns

This function receives the input buffer, copies it to a destination buffer, and parses it to add found patterns to the dictionary. The constructed dictionary is a binary tree template `CBinaryTree<CPattern, CPattern*, int, int> m_alpDic` with a key of type `CPattern`.

```void CPatternAlaysis::ConstructPatterns(BYTE *pSrc, int nSrcLen,
LPCSTR lpcsDelimiters /*= NULL*/,
int nMinPatternWords /*= 2*/,
bool bFixedNGram /*= false*/)
{
...
// allocate destination buffer
...
...
...
// initialize dictionary
m_alpDic.RemoveAll();
CBinaryTreeNode<CPattern, int>* pNode = m_alpDic.Root;
// left m_alpDic Samples points to the source buffer
int nPrevLength;
CPattern node(m_pDes, GetPatternLength(
m_pDes, nPrevLength, nMinPatternWords));
// scan the input buffer
while(node.m_pBuffer < m_pDes+nDesLen)
{
pNode = m_alpDic.Insert(&node, -1, pNode);
pNode->Key.m_nFrequency = pNode->Count;
if(bFixedNGram == false && pNode->Count > 1)
// (repeated pattern), increment node length
// by a new word length
else
{   // initialize node to next entity
node.m_pBuffer += nPrevLength;
node.m_nLength = GetPatternLength(node.m_pBuffer,
nPrevLength, nMinPatternWords);
// initialize binary tree search root
pNode = m_alpDic.Root;
}
}
}```

Note: The first good point in this function is that it allocates one buffer for the dictionary and all dictionary nodes point to their start buffer, keeping their buffer length in the class `CPattern`. So, no allocation or reallocation is done during the algorithm.

```class CPattern
{
public:
CPattern()    {}
CPattern(BYTE* pBuffer, int nLength)
{
m_pBuffer = pBuffer, m_nLength = nLength;
}
CPattern(const CPattern& buffer)
{
*this = buffer;
}

public:
BYTE* m_pBuffer;
int m_nLength;
int m_nFrequency;
inline int compare(const CPattern* buffer);
{    ...  }
inline void operator=(const CPattern* buffer)
{
m_pBuffer = buffer->m_pBuffer;
m_nLength = buffer->m_nLength;
}
};```

The function does the steps of the pseudo code. The second good point is the usage of a binary tree `CBinaryTree` to keep the dictionary, with a very good trick here:

The function `Insert()` of the tree takes a third parameter to start the search from. In normal cases, this parameter should be the tree `Root`. However, if a pattern is found and a new word is added to it, then we can start the search for the pattern from the current node, as it must be under current node. This is because it is only the previous pattern plus a new word.

In the case of a new pattern, we should start the search from the tree root, so we have this line at the bottom of the function:

```// initialize binary tree search root
pNode = m_alpDic.Root;```

### GetPatterns

This function doesn't construct patterns. It just retrieves the constructed patterns with three types of sort: Alphabetical, Frequency and Pattern length. The returned patterns are stored in a vector of patterns (`OUT vector<CPattern*>& vPatterns`).

1. #### Alphabetical

```CBinaryTreeNode<CPattern, int>* pAlpNode = m_alpDic.Min(m_alpDic.Root);
while(pAlpNode)
{
if(pAlpNode->Count > 1 || !bIgnoreUniquePatterns)
// ignore unique pattern
vPatterns.push_back(&pAlpNode->Key);
pAlpNode = m_alpDic.Successor(pAlpNode);
}```
2. #### Frequency

```// construct a new dictionary to sort stored patterns
// depending on frequency
CBinaryTree<CValue<int>, int, vector<CPattern*>,
vector<CPattern*>* >  displayDic;
CBinaryTreeNode<CPattern, int>* pAlpNode = m_alpDic.Min(m_alpDic.Root);
while(pAlpNode != NULL)
{
if(pAlpNode->Count >    1 || !bIgnoreUniquePatterns)
// ignore unique pattern
displayDic.Insert(pAlpNode->Count/*frequency*/)->
Data.push_back(&pAlpNode->Key);
pAlpNode = m_alpDic.Successor(pAlpNode);
}
// iterate through the binary tree to get sorted pattern
// (depend on frequency)
CBinaryTreeNode<CValue<int>, vector<CPattern*>* pNode =
displayDic.Max(displayDic.Root);
while(pNode)
{
for(vector<CPattern*>::iterator i = pNode->Data.begin(),
end = pNode->Data.end(); i != end; i++)
vPatterns.push_back(*i);
pNode = displayDic.Predecessor(pNode);
}```
3. #### Pattern length

```// construct a new dictionary to sort stored patterns
// depending on Pattern length
CBinaryTree<CValue<int>, int, vector<CPattern*>,
vector<CPattern*>* >  displayDic;
CBinaryTreeNode<CPattern, int>* pAlpNode = m_alpDic.Min(m_alpDic.Root);
while(pAlpNode != NULL)
{
if(pAlpNode->Count >    1 || !bIgnoreUniquePatterns)
// ignore unique pattern
displayDic.Insert(pAlpNode->Key.m_nLength/*length*/)->
Data.push_back(&pAlpNode->Key);
pAlpNode = m_alpDic.Successor(pAlpNode);
}
// iterate through the binary tree to get sorted pattern
// (depend on Pattern length)
CBinaryTreeNode<CValue<int>, vector<CPattern*>* pNode =
displayDic.Max(displayDic.Root);
while(pNode)
{
for(vector<CPattern*>::iterator i = pNode->Data.begin(),
end = pNode->Data.end(); i != end; i++)
vPatterns.push_back(*i);
pNode = displayDic.Predecessor(pNode);
}```

### GetPatternCount

This function retrieves the stored patterns count.

```int CPatternAlaysis::GetPatternCount()
{
return m_alpDic.Count;
}```

## Points of Interest

1. #### Algorithm Accuracy

The algorithm doesn't give accuracy about pattern frequency in the case of variable length patterns (not n-gram with fixed n). That is because the algorithm constructs patterns while parsing the sequence and checks each constructed pattern with the dynamic dictionary. So, if any pattern is first added to the dictionary, a new pattern is constructed starting from the second word of the previous pattern with length n (min pattern length).

2. #### Cross-Document Co-reference

Cross-Document Co-reference is the process of finding a relation between documents. In other words, we can say that two documents are related if the two documents contain similar patterns. This subject is studied in many articles, but I found that the best one is "A Methodology for Cross-Document Coreference" by Amit Bagga and Alan W.Biermann. My algorithm may be helpful to generate patterns that can be taken to find a relation between patterns. The good point here is the very good speed of the algorithm, so it can be used for large numbers of documents like the web. However, directed patterns are better than random patterns to find documents' co-reference.

3. #### DIPRE: Dual Iterative Pattern Relation Expansion

This is an algorithm introduced by Sergey Brin to collect related information from scattered web sources. I like this idea very much and invite all of you to read his article and search the web for its implementation or even its flowchart. My algorithm can't be used here, as it collects patterns without any guided information about retrieved patterns. However, the FIPRE algorithm is a semi-directed algorithm, as it guides the initial pattern search with regular expressions to identify the required pattern, like "book title" and "author name." Alternatively, if the algorithm collects mails, it will include all regular expressions for mails like that:

```[^ \:\=@;,,\$\$**++\t\r\n""'<>/\\%??()&]+@[Hh]otmail.com
[^ \:\=@;,,\$\$**++\t\r\n""'<>/\\%??()&]+@[Yy]ahoo.com
[^ \:\=@;,,\$\$**++\t\r\n""'<>/\\%??()&]+@(AOL|aol|Aol).com```

• 10/09/2007: Posted version v0.9000
• 23/09/2007: Updated the source file vector.cpp to initialize the vector buffer with zeros
• 31/10/2007: Updated the header file vector.h to solve "insert" function bug

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 First PrevNext
 My vote of 5 manoj kumar choubey27-Mar-12 23:55 manoj kumar choubey 27-Mar-12 23:55
 How fast is your fast? Sanmayce7-Jan-12 9:06 Sanmayce 7-Jan-12 9:06
 Re: Article "Fast LZW compression" not found Hatem Mostafa24-Sep-11 0:59 Hatem Mostafa 24-Sep-11 0:59
 Re: Article "Fast LZW compression" not found Joao Araujo10-Jan-12 8:50 Joao Araujo 10-Jan-12 8:50
 Re: Article "Fast LZW compression" not found Hatem Mostafa11-Jan-12 20:37 Hatem Mostafa 11-Jan-12 20:37
 My vote of 5 RedDK1-Jun-11 9:51 RedDK 1-Jun-11 9:51
 ~CPatternAlaysis(); // had to add this desctructor declaration to PE.h to avoid VS2010 compile error C2600 wycoder7-Apr-11 1:25 wycoder 7-Apr-11 1:25
 C# implementation dde21-Jul-09 16:52 dde 21-Jul-09 16:52
 Message Removed Katekortez25-Oct-08 9:30 Katekortez 25-Oct-08 9:30
 C# implementation navbas19-Sep-08 6:54 navbas 19-Sep-08 6:54
 Re: C# implementation dde21-Jul-09 16:44 dde 21-Jul-09 16:44
 Born Analyst!! vamsidhar sunkari22-Feb-08 6:15 vamsidhar sunkari 22-Feb-08 6:15
 Re: Born Analyst!! Hatem Mostafa7-Aug-11 11:59 Hatem Mostafa 7-Aug-11 11:59
 Great! Abu Abdillah30-Dec-07 8:27 Abu Abdillah 30-Dec-07 8:27
 missing n+1 length patterns? b-yond18-Nov-07 6:58 b-yond 18-Nov-07 6:58
 Re: missing n+1 length patterns? Hatem Mostafa18-Nov-07 8:24 Hatem Mostafa 18-Nov-07 8:24
 Re: missing n+1 length patterns? b-yond18-Nov-07 15:14 b-yond 18-Nov-07 15:14
 Hey, thanks Hatem. You're right, this is an excellent fast pattern extraction technique. I appreciate you clarifying that for me. I was thinking more along the lines of just defining and quantifying the patterns, like for keyword extraction. Great work! -BryanC
 Re: missing n+1 length patterns? yulin113-Dec-07 17:42 yulin11 3-Dec-07 17:42
 Do you see a use for code breaking? D N Harris1-Oct-07 2:05 D N Harris 1-Oct-07 2:05
 Re: Do you see a use for code breaking? !!! Hatem Mostafa1-Oct-07 22:02 Hatem Mostafa 1-Oct-07 22:02
 Re: Do you see a use for code breaking? D N Harris2-Oct-07 2:53 D N Harris 2-Oct-07 2:53
 very good ! gogac26-Sep-07 11:25 gogac 26-Sep-07 11:25
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