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1565922573 {7f531863} mastering regular expressions powerful techniques for perl and other tools friedl 1997 01 11

Mastering Regular Expressions - Table of Contents
Mastering Regular Expressions
Table of Contents
Tables
Preface
1 Introduction to Regular Expressions
2 Extended Introductory Examples
3 Overview of Regular Expression Features and Flavors
4 The Mechanics of Expression Processing
5 Crafting a Regular Expression
6 Tool-Specific Information
7 Perl Regular Expressions
A Online Information
B Email Regex Program
Index


Mastering Regular Expressions
Powerful Techniques for Perl and Other Tools
Jeffrey E.F. Friedl


O'REILLY
Cambridge • Köln • Paris • Sebastopol • Tokyo

[PU]O'Reilly[/PU][DP]1997[/DP]


Page iv

Mastering Regular Expressions
by Jeffrey E.F. Friedl
Copyright © 1997 O'Reilly & Associates, Inc. All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America.
Published by O'Reilly & Associates, Inc., 101 Morris Street, Sebastopol, CA
95472.
Editor: Andy Oram
Production Editor: Jeffrey Friedl
Printing History:
January 1997:

First Edition.

March 1997:

Second printing; Minor corrections.

May 1997:

Third printing; Minor corrections.

July 1997:

Fourth printing; Minor corrections.

November 1997:

Fifth printing; Minor corrections.

August 1998:

Sixth printing; Minor corrections.


December 1998:

Seventh printing; Minor corrections.

Nutshell Handbook and the Nutshell Handbook logo are registered trademarks
and The Java Series is a trademark of O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
Many of the designations used by manufacturers and sellers to distinguish their
products are claimed as trademarks. Where those designations appear in this
book, and O'Reilly & Associates, Inc. was aware of a trademark claim, the
designations have been printed in caps or initial caps.
While every precaution has been taken in the preparation of this book, the
publisher assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages
resulting from the use of the information contained herein.


Page V

Table of Contents
Preface

xv

1: Introduction to Regular Expressions

1

Solving Real Problems

2

Regular Expressions as a Language

4

The Filename Analogy

4

The Language Analogy

5

The Regular-Expression Frame of Mind
Searching Text Files: Egrep
Egrep Metacharacters

6
7
8

Start and End of the Line

8

Character Classes

9

Matching Any Character—Dot

11

Alternation

12

Word Boundaries

14

In a Nutshell

15


Optional Items

16

Other Quantifiers: Repetition

17

Ignoring Differences in Capitalization

18

Parentheses and Backreferences

19

The Great Escape

20

Expanding the Foundation

21

Linguistic Diversification

21

The Goal of a Regular Expression

21

A Few More Examples

22


Page vi

Regular Expression Nomenclature

24

Improving on the Status Quo

26

Summary

28

Personal Glimpses

30

2: Extended Introductory Examples
About the Examples
A Short Introduction to Perl

31
32
33

Matching Text with Regular Expressions

34

Toward a More Real-World Example

36

Side Effects of a Successful Match

36

Intertwined Regular Expressions

39

Intermission

43

Modifying Text with Regular Expressions

45

Automated Editing

47

A Small Mail Utility

48

That Doubled-Word Thing

54

3: Overview of Regular Expression Features and Flavors.

59


A Casual Stroll Across the Regex Landscape

60

The World According to Grep

60

The Times They Are a Changin'

61

At a Glance

63

POSIX

64

Care and Handling of Regular Expressions

66

Identifying a Regex

66

Doing Something with the Matched Text

67

Other Examples

67

Care and Handling: Summary

70

Engines and Chrome Finish

70

Chrome and Appearances

71

Engines and Drivers

71

Common Metacharacters

71

Character Shorthands

72

Strings as Regular Expression

75

Class Shorthands, Dot, and Character Classes

77

Anchoring

81


Grouping and Retrieving

83

Quantifiers

83

[PU]O'Reilly[/PU][DP]1997[/DP]


Page vii

Alternation
Guide to the Advanced Chapters

84
85

Tool-Specific Information

85

4: The Mechanics of Expression Processing

87

Start Your Engines!

87

Two Kinds of Engines

87

New Standards

88

Regex Engine Types

88

From the Department of Redundancy Department

90

Match Basics

90

About the Examples

91

Rule 1: The Earliest Match Wins

91

The "Transmission" and the Bump-Along

92

Engine Pieces and Parts

93

Rule 2: Some Metacharacters Are Greedy

94

Regex-Directed vs. Text-Directed

99

NFA Engine: Regex-Directed

99


DFA Engine: Text-Directed

100

The Mysteries of Life Revealed

101

Backtracking

102

A Really Crummy Analogy

102

Two Important Points on Backtracking

103

Saved States

104

Backtracking and Greediness

106

More About Greediness

108

Problems of Greediness

108

Multi-Character "Quotes"

109

Laziness?

110

Greediness Always Favors a Match

110

Is Alternation Greedy?

112

Uses for Non-Greedy Alternation

113

Greedy Alternation in Perspective

114

Character Classes vs. Alternation

115

NFA, DFA, and POSIX
"The Longest-Leftmost"

115
115


POSIX and the Longest-Leftmost Rule

116

Speed and Efficiency

118

DFA and NFA in Comparison

118


Page viii

Practical Regex Techniques

121

Contributing Factors

121

Be Specific

122

Difficulties and Impossibilities

125

Watching Out for Unwanted Matches.

127

Matching Delimited Text

129

Knowing Your Data and Making Assumptions

132

Additional Greedy Examples

132

Summary

136

Match Mechanics Summary

136

Some Practical Effects of Match Mechanics

137

5: Crafting a Regular Expression
A Sobering Example

139
140

A Simple Change-Placing Your Best Foot Forward

141

More Advanced-Localizing the Greediness

141

Reality Check

144

A Global View of Backtracking

145


More Work for a POSIX NFA

147

Work Required During a Non-Match.

147

Being More Specific

147

Alternation Can Be Expensive

148

A Strong Lead

149

The Impact of Parentheses

150

Internal Optimization

154

First-Character Discrimination

154

Fixed-String Check

155

Simple Repetition

155

Needless Small Quantifiers

156

Length Cognizance

157

Match Cognizance

157

Need Cognizance

157

String/Line Anchors

158

Compile Caching

158

Testing the Engine Type

160

Basic NFA vs. DFA Testing

160


Traditional NFA vs. POSIXNFA Testing
Unrolling the Loop
Method 1: Building a Regex From Past Experiences

161
162
162


Page ix

The Real "Unrolling the Loop" Pattern.

164

Method 2: A Top-Down View

166

Method 3: A Quoted Internet Hostname

167

Observations

168

Unrolling C Comments

168

Regex Headaches

169

A Naive View

169

Unrolling the C Loop

171

The Freeflowing Regex

173

A Helping Hand to Guide the Match.

173

A Well-Guided Regex is a Fast Regex.

174

Wrapup

176

Think!
The Many Twists and Turns of Optimizations
6: Tool-Specific Information

177
177
181

Questions You Should Be Asking

181

Something as Simple as Grep

181


In This Chapter
Awk

182
183

Differences Among Awk Regex Flavors

184

Awk Regex Functions and Operators

187

Tcl

188
Tcl Regex Operands

189

Using Tcl Regular Expressions

190

Tcl Regex Optimizations

192

GNU Emacs

192

Emacs Strings as Regular Expressions

193

Emacs's Regex Flavor

193

Emacs Match Results

196

Benchmarking in Emacs

197

Emacs Regex Optimizations

197

7: Perl Regular Expressions
The Perl Way

199
201

Regular Expressions as a Language Component

202

Perl's Greatest Strength

202

Perl's Greatest Weakness

203


A Chapter, a Chicken, and The Perl Way

204


Page x

An Introductory Example: Parsing CSV Text

204

Regular Expressions and The Perl Way

207

Perl Unleashed

208

Regex-Related Perlisms

210

Expression Context

210

Dynamic Scope and Regex Match Effects

211

Special Variables Modified by a Match

217

"Doublequotish Processing" and Variable Interpolation

219

Perl's Regex Flavor

225

Quantifiers-Greedy and Lazy

225

Grouping

227

String Anchors

232

Multi-Match Anchor

236

Word Anchors

240

Convenient Shorthands and Other Notations

241

Character Classes

243

Modification with \Q and Friends: True Lies

245


The Match Operator

246

Match-Operand Delimiters

247

Match Modifiers

249

Specifying the Match Target Operand

250

Other Side Effects of the Match Operator

251

Match Operator Return Value

252

Outside Influences on the Match Operator

254

The Substitution Operator

255

The Replacement Operand

255

The /e Modifier

257

Context and Return Value

258

Using /g with a Regex That Can Match Nothingness

259

The Split Operator

259

Basic Split

259

Advanced Split

261

Advanced Split's Match Operand

262

Scalar-Context Split

264

Split's Match Operand with Capturing Parentheses

264


Perl Efficiency Issues

265

"There's More Than One Way to Do It"

266

Regex Compilation, the /o Modifier, and Efficiency

268

Unsociable $& and Friends

273


Page xi

The Efficiency Penalty of the /i Modifier

278

Substitution Efficiency Concerns

281

Benchmarking

284

Regex Debugging Information

285

The Study Function

287

Putting It All Together

290

Stripping Leading and Trailing Whitespace

290

Adding Commas to a Number

291

Removing C Comments

292

Matching an Email Address

294

Final Comments
Notes for Perl4

304
305

A Online Information

309

BEmail Regex Program

313


Page xiii

Tables
1-1 Summary of Metacharacters Seen So Far

15

1-2 Summary of Quantifier ''Repetition Metacharacters"

18

1-3 Egrep Metacharacter Summary

29

3-1 A (Very) Superficial Look at the Flavor of a Few Common Tools

63

3-2 Overview of POSIX Regex Flavors

64

3-3 A Few Utilities and Some of the Shorthand Metacharacters They Provide

73

3-4 String/Line Anchors, and Other Newline-Related Issues

82

4-1 Some Tools and Their Regex Engines

90

5-1 Match Efficiency for a Traditional NFA

143

5-2 Unrolling-The-Loop Example Cases

163

5-3 Unrolling-The-Loop Components for C Comments

172

6-1 A Superficial Survey of a Few Common Programs' Flavor

182

6-2 A Comical Look at a Few Greps

183

6-3 A Superficial Look at a Few Awks

184

6-4 Tcl's FA Regex Flavor

189


6-5 GNU Emacs's Search-Related Primitives

193

6-6 GNU Emacs's String Metacharacters

194

6-7 Emacs's NFA Regex Flavor

194

6-8 Emacs Syntax Classes

195

7-1 Overview of Perl's Regular-Expression Language

201

7-2 Overview of Perl's Regex-Related Items

203

7-3 The meaning of local

213

7-4 Perl's Quantifiers (Greedy and Lazy)

225


Page xiv

7-5 Overview of Newline-Related Match Modes

232

7-6 Summary of Anchor and Dot Modes

236

7-7 Regex Shorthands and Special-Character Encodings

241

7-8 String and Regex-Operand Case-Modification Constructs

245

7-9 Examples of m/…/g with a Can-Match-Nothing Regex

250

7-10 Standard Libraries That Are Naughty (That Reference $& and Friends)

278

7-11 Somewhat Formal Description of an Internet Email Address

295


Page xv

Preface
This book is about a powerful tool called "regular expressions."
Here, you will learn how to use regular expressions to solve problems and get the
most out of tools that provide them. Not only that, but much more: this book is
about mastering regular expressions.
If you use a computer, you can benefit from regular expressions all the time (even
if you don't realize it). When accessing World Wide Web search engines, with
your editor, word processor, configuration scripts, and system tools, regular
expressions are often provided as "power user" options. Languages such as Awk,
Elisp, Expect, Perl, Python, and Tcl have regular-expression support built in
(regular expressions are the very heart of many programs written in these
languages), and regular-expression libraries are available for most other
languages. For example, quite soon after Java became available, a
regular-expression library was built and made freely available on the Web.
Regular expressions are found in editors and programming environments such as
vi, Delphi, Emacs, Brief, Visual C++, Nisus Writer, and many, many more.
Regular expressions are very popular.
There's a good reason that regular expressions are found in so many diverse
applications: they are extremely powerful. At a low level, a regular expression
describes a chunk of text. You might use it to verify a user's input, or perhaps to
sift through large amounts of data. On a higher level, regular expressions allow
you to master your data. Control it. Put it to work for you. To master regular
expressions is to master your data.

[PU]O'Reilly[/PU][DP]1997[/DP]


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