Looking for help with regular expressions- not Python Specific

Samuel Walters swalters_usenet at yahoo.com
Fri Jan 9 10:00:41 CET 2004

|Thus Spake Tony C On the now historical date of Wed, 07 Jan 2004 21:14:52

> I'm writing a python program which uses regular expressions, but I'm
> totally new to regexps.
> I've got Kuchling's "Regexp HOWTO", "Mastering Regular Expresions" by
> Oreilly, and have access to online stuff too.

It may be more than you're looking for, but regular expressions are a nice
compact encoding of finite state machines.  If you really, really, really
want to grok regexp's and are willing to make an investment of time in it,
then you are best to understand fsm's.  Searching for understandable
material could be tough going.  You'll come across a lot of cryptic
mathematical papers.  My tip is that you'll start turning up papers that
include references to push down automata and turing machines.  These are
more powerful versions of finite state machines, but not directly related
to regexps.  Skip over them.  Really, anyone with a solid understanding of
programming fundamentals should be able to understand fsm's.  I would
point you to some resources, but I haven't got any handy.

Happy Hunting.

Sam Walters.

P.S.  If you look deeper into finite state machines, push down automata,
turing machines and the lambda calculus, your soul will merge with the
deeper zen of computer programming.  Deep understanding of these four
concepts (whether that understanding is conscious or unconscious) is what
separates good programmers from truly great ones.  I suggest "Godel,
Escher, Bach" by Douglas Hofstadter as a good, but dizzying, introduction
to this territory.

Never forget the halloween documents.
""" Where will Microsoft try to drag you today?
    Do you really want to go there?"""

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