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File Date Author Commit
bench 2015-07-30 vityok vityok [69654e] profile TABAC, dump Lisp version/implementation...
contrib 10 hours ago vityok vityok [fb214b] ascii: improved line reader, explicitly fail no...
site 2014-02-17 Victor Victor [4070dc] added info about the mirror
src 2015-08-07 vityok vityok [b1318f] doc updates for aho-corasick
t 10 hours ago vityok vityok [fb214b] ascii: improved line reader, explicitly fail no...
.hgtags 10 hours ago vityok vityok [6387d5] Added tag rel-03sep2015 for changeset 08df63e1de15
ChangeLog 10 hours ago vityok vityok [08df63] updated version information
LICENSE 2013-04-11 Victor Victor [56de9e] added todo in the readme, license information 5 days ago vityok vityok [dca1f6] changed links, added cl-test-grid link
ascii-strings.asd 2013-12-24 Victor Victor [2b4d5c] some char functions, minor tests reorganization...
cl-string-match-test.asd 2015-08-09 vityok vityok [f5710c] all tests are now a part of the test package, P...
cl-string-match.asd 10 hours ago vityok vityok [08df63] updated version information

Read Me

CL-STRING-MATCH Quickdocs aims at providing robust implementations of string
matching algorithms. These algorithms are also called "substring
or "subsequence search" algorithms.

Currently it provides implementations of the following string matching
algorithms (see wiki for details):

  • Brute-force (also known as naïve algorithm)
  • Boyer-Moore (with mismatched character heuristic and good suffix shift)
  • Boyer-Moore-Horspool algorithm
  • Knuth-Morris-Pratt algorithm
  • Rabin-Karp algorithm
  • Shift-OR algorithm (single pattern)
  • Aho-Corasick algorithm (with finite set of patterns, forward
    transition and fail function)
  • A simple backtracking regular expressions engine
    re similar to that of the Lua
    programming language. At the moment it significantly underperforms
    compared to the CL-PPCRE.

Some string processing algorithms are also implemented:

  • Simple (naїve) suffix tree construction algorithm
  • Ukkonen's suffix tree construction algorithm

Data structures:

  • Prefix trie
  • Suffix tree


  • Testing whether a string has the given suffix or prefix (starts with
    or ends with the pattern)

Some algorithms (Brute-force, Boyer-Moore-Horspool) have parametric
implementations (code templates) making it possible to declare
specific implementations for application-specific custom data types
and data structures.

This library is routinely tested on Steel Bank CL, Clozure CL,
Embeddable CL and Armed Bear CL. Chances are really high that it will
work on other platforms without problems (check its status on

Check the API Reference for more details.

Additional resources:


Since the standard search function is working fine, one might ask:
why do we need a yet another implementation? Answer is simple:
advanced algorithms offer different benefits compared to the standard
implementation that is based on the brute-force algorithm.

show that depending on environment and pattern of application, a
Boyer-Moore-Horspool algorithm implementation can outperform standard
search function in SBCL by almost 18 times! Check the code in the
bench folder for further details.


CL-STRING-MATCH Quickdocs is supported by Quicklisp and is known by its system name:

lisp (ql:quickload :cl-string-match)

CL-STRING-MATCH exports functions in cl-string-match package (that
is also nicknamed as sm).

Shortcut functions search given pattern pat in text txt. They are
usually much slower (because they build index structures every time
they are called) but are easier to use:

  • string-contains-brute pat txt — Brute-force
  • string-contains-bm pat txt — Boyer-Moore
  • string-contains-bmh pat txt — Boyer-Moore-Horspool
  • string-contains-kmp pat txt — Knuth-Morris-Pratt
  • string-contains-ac pat txt — Aho-Corasick
  • string-contains-rk pat txt — Rabin-Karp

A more robust approach is to use pre-calculated index data that is
processed by a pair of initialize and search functions:

  • initialize-bm pat and search-bm bm txt
  • initialize-bmh pat and search-bmh bm txt
  • initialize-bmh8 pat and search-bmh8 bm txt
  • initialize-rk pat and search-rk rk txt
  • initialize-kmp pat and search-kmp kmp txt
  • initialize-ac pat and search-ac ac txt. initialize-ac
    can accept a list of patterns that are compiled into a trie.

Brute-force algorithm does not use pre-calculated data and has no
"initialize" function.

Boyer-Moore-Horspool implementation (the -BMH and -BMH8 functions)
also accepts :start2 and :end2 keywords for the "search" and
"contains" functions.

Following example looks for a given substring pat in a given line of
text txt using Boyer-Moore-Horspool algorithm implementation:

lisp (let ((idx (initialize-bmh "abc"))) (search-bmh idx "ababcfbgsldkj"))

Counting all matches of a given pattern in a string:

lisp (loop with str = "____abc____abc____ab" with pat = "abc" with idx = (sm:initialize-bmh8 pat) with z = 0 with s = 0 while s do (when (setf s (sm:search-bmh8 idx str :start2 s)) (incf z) (incf s (length pat))) finally (return z))

It should be noted that Boyer-Moore-Horspool (bmh) implementation
can offer an order of magnitude boost to performance compared to the
standard search function.

However, some implementations create a "jump table" that can be the
size of the alphabet (over 1M CHAR-CODE-LIMIT on implementations
supporting Unicode) and thus consume a significant chunk of
memory. There are different solutions to this problem and at the
moment a version for the ASCII strings is offered: initialize-bmh8
pat and search-bmh8 bm txt as well as string-contains-bmh8
pat txt work for strings with characters inside the 256 char code


This project also contains code that is not directly invloved with the
pattern search algorithms but nevertheless might be found useful for
text handling/processing. Check the contrib folder in the repository
for more details. Currently it contains:

  • ascii-strings.lisp aims to provide single-byte strings
    functionality for Unicode-enabled Common Lisp implementations. Another
    goal is to reduce memory footprint and boost performance of the
    string-processing tasks, i.e. read-line.


The project still lacks some important features and is under constant
development. Any kind of contributions or feedback are welcome.

Please take a look at the list of open issues or the Project Roadmap.

Visit project Wiki for additional information.