# Chapter Seven: Regular Expressions

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1 Chapter Seven: Regular Expressions

2 Regular Expressions We have seen that DFAs and NFAs have equal definitional power. It turns out that regular expressions also have exactly that same definitional power: they can be used to define all the regular languages, and only the regular languages.

3 Outline 7.1 Regular Expressions, Formally Defined 7.2 Regular Expression Examples 7.3 For Every Regular Expression, a Regular Language 7.4 Regular Expressions and Structural Induction 7.5 For Every Regular Language, a Regular Expression

4 Regular Expression In order to define regular expressions we need to additional operators on languages: Concatenation Kleene closure

5 Concatenation of Languages The concatenation of two languages L 1 and L 2 is L 1 L 2 = {xy x L 1 and y L 2 } The set of all strings that can be constructed by concatenating a string from the first language with a string from the second For example, if L 1 = {a, b} and L 2 = {c, d} then L 1 L 2 = {ac, ad, bc, bd}

6 Kleene Closure of a Language The Kleene closure of a language L is L* = {x 1 x 2... x n n 0, with all x i L} The set of strings that can be formed by concatenating any number of strings, each of which is an element of L In L*, each x i may be a different element of L For example, {ab, cd}* = {ε, ab, cd, abab, abcd, cdab, cdcd, ababab,...} For all L, ε L* For all L containing at least one string other than ε, L* is infinite Note: this is very similar to the set of all strings Σ* over alphabet Σ. In fact, sometimes we talk about the Kleene closure of the alphabet.

7 Regular Expressions A regular expression is a string r that denotes a language L(r) over some alphabet Σ Regular expressions make special use of the symbols ε,, +, *, and parentheses We will assume that these special symbols are not included in Σ There are six kinds of regular expressions

8 The Six Regular Expressions The six kinds of regular expressions, and the languages they denote, are: Three kinds of atomic regular expressions: Any symbol a Σ, with L(a) = {a} The special symbol ε, with L(ε) = {ε} The special symbol, with L( ) = {} Three kinds of compound regular expressions built from smaller regular expressions, here called r, r 1, and r 2 : (r 1 + r 2 ), with L(r 1 + r 2 ) = L(r 1 ) L(r 2 ) (r 1 r 2 ), with L(r 1 r 2 ) = L(r 1 )L(r 2 ) (r)*, with L((r)*) = (L(r))* The parentheses may be omitted, in which case * has highest precedence and + has lowest

9 Outline 7.1 Regular Expressions, Formally Defined 7.2 Regular Expression Examples 7.3 For Every Regular Expression, a Regular Language 7.4 Regular Expressions and Structural Induction 7.5 For Every Regular Language, a Regular Expression

10 ab Denotes the language {ab} Our formal definition permits this because a is an atomic regular expression denoting {a} b is an atomic regular expression denoting {b} Their concatenation (ab) is a compound Unnecessary parentheses can be omitted Thus any string x in Σ* can be used by itself as a regular expression, denoting {x}

11 ab+c Denotes the language {ab,c} We omitted parentheses from the fully parenthesized form ((ab)+c) The inner pair is unnecessary because + has lower precedence than concatenation Thus any finite language can be defined using a regular expression Just list the strings, separated by + Hint: when you see a + in a RE just think or

12 ba* Denotes the language {ba n n 0}: the set of strings consisting of b followed by zero or more as Not the same as (ba)*, which denotes {(ba) n n 0} * has higher precedence than concatenation The Kleene star is the only way to define an infinite language using regular expressions

13 (a+b)* Denotes {a,b}*: the whole language of strings over the alphabet {a,b} The parentheses are necessary here, because * has higher precedence than + Kleene closure does not distribute, that is, (a+b)* a*+b* a*+b* denotes {a}* {b}*

14 Denotes {} There is no other way to denote the empty set with regular expressions That's all you should ever use for It is not useful in compounds: L(r ) = L( r) = {} L(r+ ) = L( +r) = L(r) L( *) = {ε}

15 From Languages to RE Give the regular expressions for the following languages: {x x is a string that starts with three 0s followed by arbitrary 0s and 1s and then ends with three 0s} {x x is a string that starts with a 0 followed by an arbitrary number of 1s and ends with a 0 OR x is a string that starts with a 1 followed by an arbitrary number of 0s and ends with a 1} { x n x is either the string ab or the string c and n >= 0}

16 Outline 7.1 Regular Expressions, Formally Defined 7.2 Regular Expression Examples 7.3 For Every Regular Expression, a Regular Language 7.4 Regular Expressions and Structural Induction 7.5 For Every Regular Language, a Regular Expression

17 Regular Expression to NFA Approach: convert any regular expression to an NFA for the same language

18 Standard Form To make them easier to compose, our NFAs will all have the same standard form: Exactly one accepting state, not the start state That is, for any regular expression r, we will show how to construct an NFA N with L(N) = L(r), pictured like this: r

19 Atomic REs

20 Compound REs where r 1 and r 2 are REs

21 Outline 7.1 Regular Expressions, Formally Defined 7.2 Regular Expression Examples 7.3 For Every Regular Expression, a Regular Language 7.4 Regular Expressions and Structural Induction 7.5 For Every Regular Language, a Regular Expression

22 NFA to Regular Expression There is a way to take any NFA and construct a regular expression for the same language This gives us our next lemma: Lemma: if N is any NFA, there is some regular expression r with L(r) = L(N) A tricky construction, covered in Appendix A (very difficult to follow), the hand-out has a more intuitive proof.

23 Theorem (Kleene's Theorem) A language is regular if and only if it is L(r) for some regular expression r. Proof: follows from previous two lemmas.

24 Defining Regular Languages We can define the regular languages: By DFA By NFA By regular expression These three have equal power for defining languages

25 Alphabets An alphabet is any finite set of symbols {0,1}: binary alphabet {0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9}: decimal alphabet ASCII, Unicode: machine-text alphabets Or just {a,b}: enough for many examples {}: a legal but not usually interesting alphabet We will usually use Σ as the name of the alphabet we re considering, as in Σ = {a,b}

26 Strings A string is a finite sequence of zero or more symbols Length of a string: abbb = 4 A string over the alphabet Σ means a string all of whose symbols are in Σ The set of all strings of length 2 over the alphabet {a,b} is {aa, ab, ba, bb}

27 Languages A language is a set of strings over some fixed alphabet Not restricted to finite sets: in fact, finite sets are not usually interesting languages All our alphabets are finite, and all our strings are finite, but most of the languages we're interested in are infinite

28 The Quest Using set formers to describe complex languages is challenging They can often be vague, ambiguous, or selfcontradictory A big part of our quest in the study of formal language is to develop better tools for defining and classifying languages

29 The Quest We went from this: {x x is a string that starts with three 0s followed by arbitrary 0s and 1s and then ends with three 0s} to this: 000(0+1)*000

30 The Quest We just defined a major class of languages: the regular languages The hallmark of these languages is that their structure is such that simple computational models (DFA/NFA) can recognize them and that they can be defined using regular expressions.

31 The Quest The idea that the structure of languages is connected to computational models is important. Later on we see that the structure of languages is tightly coupled with idea of algorithms and classes of computational problems.

32 See website Assignment #4

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