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When we first learn how to write regular expressions, we're happy if we can find a pattern (any pattern!) which seems to match the input data. Efficiency isn't high on our minds, after all "everyone knows that regular expressions are slow!".
This talk will attempt to provide a greater understanding of how regular expressions work. Particular emphasis will be placed on greediness and its impacts on efficiency. A handy regular expressions tool, called the Regex Coach (which is free-as-in-beer) will be used to help show-case the examples.
Some mention of corollary Perl myths may be made, but in general the paper will be largely open for developers of any language.
As technical professionals we excel at understanding protocols, standards, file-formats, and APIs. Whenever there is a doubt as to the correct way to do things, one merely needs to read the fine manual or source code.
Unfortunately the reference manual for humans was lost a long time ago, and the source code is poorly documented. We've been struggling with inter-human communication ever since.
Paul Fenwick will present his findings at reverse-engineering the human communication protocol.
5th–8th December 2006