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[Question] Trie Wildcard String Matching



Given a trie data struture, implement add() and search() method, which support wildcard matching.

eg. If trie contains [“cool”, “kid”, “kindle”, “kind”]

These would match: “col”, “kind”, “**”

These won’t: “*”, “kid”, “coo”


First, know how to build a trie, then know how to search in Trie. This could be tricky. Do Read On!

  1. Trie (root) start with an empty node.
  2. When do searching, ALWAYS assumes that current TrieNode is matched. I.e. do not check value of current TrieNode. Instead, check current TrieNode’s children, and find a match.
  3. The only case you return true, is when matching reaches current TrieNode, and current TrieNode is an terminating node for a word.
  4. Be careful and do not confuse yourself for which node you gonna match, and when you return true.

Read the code below. If you still have a hard time, read #2 and #3 above, again.


public boolean solve(TrieRoot trie, String word) {
    if (word == null || word.length() == 0) {
        return false;
    return matchFromChildren(trie.getRoot(), word, 0);

private boolean matchFromChildren(TrieNode node, String word, int index) {
    // [important note] 
    // regardless of the value of node.letter, match word[index...] from node.children

    if (index > word.length()) {
        // impossible to reach here
        return false;
    } else if (index == word.length()) {
        // word is now fully matched, check if isTerminalNode(node)
        return node.isEndOfWord();

    char curLetter = word.charAt(index);
    if (curLetter == '*') {
        for (TrieNode child: node.getAllChildren()) {
            if (matchFromChildren(child, word, index + 1)) {
                return true;
        return false;
    } else {
        TrieNode nextNode = node.getChild(curLetter);
        if (nextNode == null) {
            return false;
        } else {
            return matchFromChildren(nextNode, word, index + 1);