Hidden Words Statistics for Large Patterns

  • Svante Janson
  • Wojciech Szpankowski


We study here the so called subsequence pattern matching also known as hidden pattern matching in which one searches for a given pattern $w$ of length $m$ as a subsequence in a random text of length $n$. The quantity of interest is the number of occurrences of $w$ as a subsequence (i.e., occurring in not necessarily consecutive text locations). This problem finds many applications from intrusion detection, to trace reconstruction, to deletion channel, and to DNA-based storage systems. In all of these applications, the pattern $w$ is of variable length. To the best of our knowledge this problem was only tackled for a fixed length $m=O(1)$. In our main result we prove that for $m=o(n^{1/3})$ the number of subsequence occurrences is normally distributed. In addition, we show that under some constraints on the structure of $w$ the asymptotic normality can be extended to $m=o(\sqrt{n})$. For a special pattern $w$ consisting of the same symbol, we indicate that for $m=o(n)$ the distribution of number of subsequences is either asymptotically normal or asymptotically log normal. After studying some special patterns (e.g., alternating) we conjecture that this dichotomy is true for all patterns. We use Hoeffding's projection method for $U$-statistics to prove our findings.

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