Regular expression

Computer/Terms 2007. 12. 20. 20:37

In computing, a regular expression is a string that is used to describe or match a set of strings, according to certain syntax rules.

Regular expressions are used by many text editors, utilities, and programming languages to search and manipulate text based on patterns. For example, Perl and Tcl have a powerful regular expression engine built directly into their syntax. Several utilities provided by Unix distributions—including the editor ed and the filter grep—were the first to popularize the concept of regular expressions. "Regular expression" is often shortened to regex or regexp (singular), or regexes, regexps, or regexen (plural). Some authors distinguish between regular expression and abbreviated forms such as regex, restricting the former to true regular expressions, which describe regular languages, while using the latter for any regular expression-like pattern, including those that describe languages that are not regular. As only some authors observe this distinction, it is not safe to rely upon it.

As an example of the syntax, the regular expression \bex can be used to search for all instances of the string "ex" that occur at word boundaries (signified by the \b). Thus in the string, "Texts for experts," \bex matches the "ex" in "experts," but not in "Texts" (because the "ex" occurs inside the word there and not immediately after a word boundary).

Many modern computing systems provide wildcard characters in matching filenames from a file system. This is a core capability of many command-line shells and is also known as globbing. Wildcards differ from regular expressions in that they generally only express very restrictive forms of alternation.


Posted by izeye

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