BrJohan wrote:

> On 11/06/2014 14:23, BrJohan wrote:
>> For some genealogical purposes I consider using Python's re module.
>> Rather many names can be spelled in a number of similar ways, and in
>> order to match names even if they are spelled differently, I will build
>> regular expressions, each of which is supposed to match  a number of
>> similar names.
>> I guess that there will be a few hundred such regular expressions
>> covering most popular names.
>> Now, my problem: Is there a way to decide whether any two - or more - of
>> those regular expressions will match the same string?
>> Or, stated a little differently:
>> Can it, for a pair of regular expressions be decided whether at least
>> one string matching both of those regular expressions, can be
>> constructed?
>> If it is possible to make such a decision, then how? Anyone aware of an
>> algorithm for this?
> Thank you all for valuable input and interesting thoughts.
> After having reconsidered my problem, it might be better to approach it
> a little differently.
> Either to state the regexps simply like:
> "(Kristina)|(Christina)|(Cristine)|(Kristine)"
> instead of "((K|(Ch))ristina)|([CK]ristine)"
> Or to put the namevariants in some sequence of sets having elements like:
> ("Kristina", "Christina", "Cristine", "Kristine")
> Matching is then just applying the 'in' operator.
> I see two distinct advantages.
> 1. Readability and maintainability
> 2. Any namevariant occurring in just one regexp or set means no risk of
> erroneous matching.
> Comments?

I like the simple variant

kristinas = ("Kristina", "Christina", "Cristine", "Kristine")

But instead of matching with "in" you could build a dict that maps the name 
variants to a normalised name

normalized_names = {
    "Kristina": "Kristina",
    "Christina": "Kristina",
    "John": "John",
    "Johann": "John",
def normalized(name):
    return normalized_names.get(name, name)

If you put persons in another dict or a database indexed by the normalised 

lookup = {
    "Kristina": ["Kristina Smith", "Christina Miller"],

you can find all Kristinas with two look-ups:

>>> lookup[normalized("Kristine")]
['Kristina Smith', 'Christina Miller']

PS: A problem with this approach might be that (name in nameset_A) and (name 
in nameset_B) implies nameset_A == nameset_B


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