On the Intersection of Context-Free and Regular Languages

Clemente Pasti, Andreas Opedal, Tiago Pimentel, Tim Vieira, Jason Eisner, Ryan Cotterell

The Bar-Hillel construction is a classic result in formal language theory. It shows, by construction, that the intersection between a context-free language and a regular language is itself context-free. However, neither its original formulation (Bar-Hillel et al., 1961) nor its weighted extension (Nederhof and Satta, 2003) can handle automata with $\epsilon$-arcs. In this short note, we generalize the Bar-Hillel construction to correctly compute the intersection even when the automaton contains $\epsilon$-arcs. We further prove that our generalized construction leads to a grammar that encodes the structure of both the input automaton and grammar while retaining the asymptotic size of the original construction.

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