On the Distribution of the Number of Missing Words in Random Texts


Determining the distribution of the number of empty urns after a number of balls have been thrown randomly into the urns is a classical and well understood problem. We study a generalization: Given a finite alphabet of size σ and a word length q, what is the distribution of the number X of words (of length q) that do not occur in a random text of length n+q−1 over the given alphabet? For q=1, X is the number Y of empty urns with σ urns and n balls. For q=2, X is related to the number Y of empty urns with σq urns and n balls, but the law of X is more complicated because successive words in the text overlap. We show that, perhaps surprisingly, the laws of X and Y are not as different as one might expect, but some problems remain currently open.

Combinatorics, Probability and Computing