What Is Substring in Data Structure?

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Larry Thompson

In data structures, a substring refers to a contiguous sequence of characters within a larger string. It is a fundamental concept used in various programming languages and algorithms to manipulate strings efficiently. Understanding substrings is crucial for tasks such as searching, sorting, and manipulating strings.

What Is a Substring?

A substring can be thought of as a segment or portion of a string. It is obtained by selecting a range of characters from the original string.

The range is defined by specifying the starting index and the ending index (inclusive or exclusive). For example, consider the string “Hello, World!”. We can form substrings by selecting any consecutive characters from this string.

For instance:

  • The substring “Hello” is obtained by selecting characters from index 0 to 4 (inclusive).
  • The substring “World” is obtained by selecting characters from index 7 to 11 (inclusive).
  • The substring “lo, Wo” is obtained by selecting characters from index 3 to 9 (inclusive).

Usage of Substrings

Substrings find applications in various scenarios:

1. Searching

One common use case of substrings is searching for specific patterns within a larger text. For example, if we want to find all occurrences of a word in a given paragraph, we can iterate over each word in the text and check if it matches our desired substring.


let text = "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.";
let searchWord = "dolor";
let occurrences = 0;

for(let i = 0; i <= text.length - searchWord.length; i++) {
    let currentSubstring = text.substring(i, i + searchWord.length);
    
    if(currentSubstring === searchWord) {
        occurrences++;
    }
}

console.log("Occurrences of 'dolor': " + occurrences);

In this example, we use the substring() method to extract substrings from the original text. By comparing each substring with the desired word, we can count the number of occurrences.

2. Manipulation

Substrings are also useful for manipulating strings by replacing or removing specific portions. For instance, consider a scenario where we want to censor certain words from a text. We can achieve this by replacing the occurrences of those words with asterisks (*) of the same length.”;
let censorWords = [“Lorem”, “ipsum”, “dolor”];
let censoredText = text;

for(let i = 0; i < censorWords.length; i++) {
let currentWord = censorWords[i];
let censoredSubstring = “*”.repeat(currentWord.length);

censoredText = censoredText.replace(currentWord, censoredSubstring);
}

console.log(censoredText);

In this example, we use the replace() method to replace each occurrence of a censor word in the original text with asterisks (*) using substrings.

Conclusion

Substrings are an essential concept in data structures and string manipulation. They allow us to extract specific portions from a larger string, enabling efficient searching and manipulation. Understanding substrings is crucial for building robust algorithms and performing various string-related tasks in programming.

By mastering substrings and their manipulation techniques, you can enhance your programming skills and tackle more complex challenges involving strings.

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