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Working with the historywords special parameter

I'm trying to create a completer that uses the previous word on the line
and the special parameter historywords to determine what values current
word should be.

It looks to me like there is no single expression that can be used to
get just the list of all the elements that match an expression from an
array.  It seems like you need to iterate over the elements of an array
via an expression like:

    #the_word is $words[CURRENT-1]
    while [[ $historywords[(in:cnt:)the_word] -lt  $#historywords  ]] ; do
       words=($words $historywords[$historywords[(in:cnt:)the_word]-1]
       let "cnt = cnt + 1" 

Is there a faster way to do this?

I'd like to do this with a large historywords (currently I have
4728 elements) doing this takes between 1 and 2 seconds. If I copy
historywords to a temporary array to do the search it goes much faster.
But if the search could be done in one operation, it would be faster and
wouldn't require a temporary copy of historywords.

Would anyone object to a new special parameter (maybe historywordsnums)
that has corresponding elements to historywords saying with which
history line the word is associated?  I ask since one of the problems
with this completer is that it picks up false "matches" when the
previous word is the last word of a previous command, it gets the next command.

It would be nice to be able to determine if a word is the last word of
the line, or what the first word of the line is.


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