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Answer: What can regular expressions NOT do?

by Anonymous Monk
on May 20, 2002 at 05:16 UTC ( #167769=categorized answer: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Q&A > regular expressions > What can regular expressions NOT do? - Answer contributed by Anonymous Monk

It is because regular expressions merely have the power of finite state machines. These finite state machines have NO memory.... how could it match equal numbers of an indeterminate quantity without MEMORY. It can't. That's why you would need the power of a more expressive grammar ... that is that which can be expressed by a pushdown automota. With a pushdown, we have a "stack" of memory that we can save about each state. Clearly, you can see how the matched parenthesis problem becomes very simple with such a mechanism at hand.

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