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> There are empty strings between all 'a's (as well as before the first
> and after the last); these empty strings are replaced by 'b'. (Actually
> there are infinite empty strings in those places. But Lua always goes at
> least one step ahead after each match.)

Strictly Logical, to find 1 empty string is just as right or wrong as
to find none, two or infinite empty strings.

> The "fix" would be to add an explicit check for unfinished captures. I
> am not sure it is worth the trouble.

Depends, if the trouble would be 1 line of code, it would easily be
worth it, anything that helps coders to catch an error sooner than
later can safe tons of work in the worst case.