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Directed Acyclic Word Graph

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A Directed Acyclic Word Graph implementation in TypeScript/JavaScript

Codeship Status for mckoss/dawg

This library takes a dictionary of (ascii) words as input, and generates a compressed datastructure based on a DAWG (like a Trie, but whose representation shares common suffixes as well as common prefixes).

Inspired by several blog posts by John Resig:

Ported from my 2011 experiment: lookups

You can try out (a previously) hosted version of this software at:


There are two classes exposed by this library:

  • Trie: This class takes a dictionary of words and can output a packed prepresentation of it.
  • PTrie: This class can read in a packed representation, and determine if a word is a member.

To get started:

$ npm install --save dawg-lookup

Creating a Packed Representation of a Dictionary

var Trie = require('dawg-lookup').Trie

var trie = new Trie("the rain in spain falls mainly in the plain " +
                    "main rains fall plainly " +
                    "peter piper picked a peck of pickled peppers " +
                    "pipers pickle pepper");
var packed = trie.pack();

// This packed representation would usually be stored or embedded
// in your program, for use later.

Using a Packed Dictionary to test for Membership

// This dependency will not load the Trie class, which is only needed
// for packing a dictionary, not interpreting it.
var PTrie = require('dawg-lookup/lib/ptrie').PTrie;

// Using 'packed' string from above.
var ptrie = new PTrie(packed);

console.log(ptrie.isWord('picked')); // true
console.log(ptrie.isWord('foobar')); // false
console.log(ptrie.isWord('ain'));    // false

// [ 'picked', 'pickle', 'pickled', 'piper', 'pipers' ]

Packed Trie Encoding Format

A Packed Trie is an encoding of a textual Trie using 7-bit ascii. None of the characters need be quoted themselves when placed inside a JavaScript string, so dictionaries can be easily included in JavaScript source files or read via ajax.


Suppose our dictionary contains the words:

cat cats dog dogs bat bats rat rats

The corresponding Packed Trie string is:


Visually, this looks like:

![DAWG diagram]( digraph DAWG { aize = "4, 4"; 0 [label="start"] 1 [label=""] 2 [label="bat, cat, rat, dog"] 3 [label="bats, cats, rats, dogs"] 0 -> 1 [label="b"] 0 -> 1 [label="c"] 0 -> 2 [label="dog"] 0 -> 1 [label="r"] 1 -> 2 [label="at"] 2 -> 3 [label="s"] } )

This Trie (actually, a DAWG) has 3 nodes. If we follow the path of "cats" through the Trie we get the squence:

node 0. match 'c': continue at node + 1
node 1. match 'at': continue at node + 1
node 2. match s: Found!

Or 'dog':

node 0. match 'dog': continue at node + 2
node 2. nothing left to match - '!' indicates Found!

While there are conceptually 4 nodes in this DAWG, we overload the terminal 's' in the 3rd node.


A file consists of a sequence of nodes, which are nodes in a Trie representing a dictionary. Nodes are separated by ';' characters (you can split(';') to get an array of node strings).

A node string contains an optional '!' first character, which indicates that this node is a terminal (matching) node in the Trie if there are zero characters left in the pattern.

The rest of the node is a sequence of character strings. Each string is either associated with a node reference, or is a terminal string completing a match. Node references are base 36.1 encoded relative node numbers ('0' == +1, '1' == +2, ...). A comma follows each terminal string to separate it from the next string in the sequence.

A Node reference can also be a symbol - an absolute node reference, instead of a relative one.


Large dictionaries can be further compressed by recognizing that node references to some common suffixes can be quite large (i.e., spanning 1,000's of nodes). While encoded as only 3 or 4 characters, we can reduce the file size by replacing selected row references with symbolic references.

To do so, we prepend the file with a collection of symbol definitions:


When used in a Node, a symbol reference indicates the absolute row number as defined in it's symbol definition line (above).

For each symbol we define (up to 36), we shift the meaning of all relative references down by 1. E.g.,if we define 1 symbol ('0'), then the node reference 1 now means "+1 row", whereas it normally means "+2 rows".

Base 36.1 numbers

Unlike base 36 numbers (digits 0-9, A-Z), base "36.1" distinguished between leading zeros. The counting numbers are hence:

0, 1, 2, 3, ..., 9, A, B, C, ..., Y, Z, 00, 01, 02, ... AA, ...

so we eke out a bit more space by not ignoring leading zeros.

Building this Repo

$ source tools/use
$ configure-project
$ run-tests
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