From Regular Expressions to PEGs

Sergio MedeirosFabio MascarenhasRoberto Ierusalimschy

Regular expressions are a formalism for expressing regular languages. Regex pattern matching libraries borrow the syntax of regular expressions, but introduce ad-hoc extensions that cannot be expressed within the regular expression formalism, and whose efficiency is difficult to estimate. PEGs are a formalism that can describe all deterministic context-free languages and that has a simple computational model. We present a new formalization of regular expressions via transformation to PEGs, and show that this formalization easily accommodates some of the extensions, and helps estimate the efficiency of expressions.

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