Posts tagged "parsing"

A deep dive into regular expression derivatives for lexical analysis August 15, 2016

Although I (embarrassingly) never completed the project, I have written before on derivative-based parsing,1 the work of Matt Might and others. The recent appearance of On the Complexity and Performance of Parsing with Derivatives and a certain immediate interest in parsing re-awakened my curiosity about the subject. (And no, it’s not because Might’s derivative-parsing tool is called Derp (but as an added bonus, the pure recognizer version is “herp” (and the accompanying regular expression package is “rerp”)).2) In this particular post, I would like to demonstrate why I think the technique is cool, by demonstrating that derivative-based regular expressions are cool.

To that end, I’ll start with regular expression matching, then go on to the conversion to a deterministic finite automaton and finally discuss the minor extras needed to build a lexical analyzer, similar to lex or flex (but better).

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