Regular expression use

Mirco Wahab wahab-mail at
Fri Aug 24 15:07:56 CEST 2007

Nick Maclaren wrote:
> For reasons that I won't explain, as they are too complicated
> and not terribly relevant, I am interested in discovering what
> people actually use regular expressions for.  Not the subject
> domain, but the construction of the regular expressions.

After I figured out how to solve a problem,
I'll surely rewrite the solution again in
pure Perl5 regular expressions in order to
outrun the normal mental degradation processes
related to aging ... :)

> I know about computer scientists and parsing, and I know about
> the use of relatively simple ones for things like extracting
> HTML links from Web pages.  But I don't have much feel for the
> (probably rare but difficult) uses of more complex ones for

Using complex regular expressions is like tank destruction
with contact charges glued on them. Only a few people
will even survive the first "usage", but survivors will
then eventually be able to destroy almost every tank with
tremendous speed and precision.

> other purposes. I have heard of several such uses, but don't
> have an overall idea of what is going on.

On business software projects, maintainability is a key
prerequisite - after using complex regular expressions
on business critical parts you are bound to involve
very very expensive maintenance programmers ... :)

What exactly did you "hear" of several "uses"? Which
application? Academia, Business, ...?



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