grammar : Java Glossary


Computer languages have very strict and fragile grammars. Grammars can be classified by how easy it is to mechanically analyse, that is parse, them. Analysis is usually broken into two phases, breaking the character stream into tokens calling lexing (or scanning) and analysing the relationship of the tokens, called parsing. The lexing part is quite simple, a finite state automaton that flips states when it sees certain character strings, as it processes the input a character at a time and collects the input into tokens. The parser is a pattern matcher, that looks for legal patterns in the language. It may have to try a great many possible patterns called production rules in the process of analysing. The advantages of top down parsers include:
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