Regular expressions are text matching patterns described with a formal syntax. The patterns are interpreted as a set of instructions, which are then executed with a string as input to produce a matching subset or modified version of the original. The term “regular expressions” is frequently shortened to as “regex” or “regexp” in conversation. Expressions can include literal text matching, repetition, pattern-composition, branching, and other sophisticated rules. A large number of parsing problems are easier to solve with a regular expression than by creating a special-purpose lexer and parser.
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