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<The absolute bare minimum every programmer should know about regular expressions ⁄ >




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Wtf is a regular expression?

Regular expressions are strings formatted using a special pattern notation that allow you to describe and parse text. Many programmers (even some good ones) disregard regular expressions as line noise, and it's a damned shame because they come in handy so often. Once you've gotten the hang of them, regular expressions can be used to solve countless real world problems.

Regular expressions work a lot like the filename "globs" in Windows or *nix that allow you to specify a number of files by using the special * or ? characters (oops, did I just use a glob while defining a glob?). But with regular expressions the special characters, or metacharacters, are far more expressive.

Like globs, regular expressions treat most characters as literal text. The regular expression mike, for example, will only match the letters m - i - k - e, in that order. But regular expressions sport an extensive set of metacharacters that make the simple glob look downright primitive



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