Automating String Processing in Spreadsheets using Input-Output Examples
We describe the design of a string programming/expression language that supports
restricted forms of regular expressions, conditionals and loops. The language is
expressive enough to represent a wide variety of string manipulation tasks that
end-users struggle with. We describe an algorithm based on several
novel concepts for synthesizing a desired program in this language
from input-output examples. The synthesis algorithm is very efficient
taking fraction of a second for various benchmark examples.
The synthesis algorithm is interactive and has several desirable
features: it can rank multiple solutions and has fast convergence, it can detect noise in the user input, and it
supports an active interaction model wherein the user is prompted to
provide outputs on inputs that may have multiple computational
The algorithm has been implemented as an interactive add-in for
Microsoft Excel spreadsheet system.
prototype tool has met the golden test - it has synthesized part of
itself, and has been used to solve problems beyond authors'