Exploring the Linguistics Behind Regular Expressions

Little did I know that learning about Chomsky would drag me down a rabbit hole back to regular expressions, and then magically cast regular expressions into something that fascinated me. What enchanted me about regular expressions was the homonymous linguistic concept that powered them.

I hope to spellbind you, too, with the linguistics behind regular expressions, a a backstory unknown to most programmers. Though I won’t teach you how to use regular expressions in any particular programming language, I hope that my linguistic introduction will inspire you to dive deeper into how regular expressions work in your programming language of choice.

To begin, let’s return to Chomsky: what does he have to do with regular expressions? Hell, what does he even have to do with computer science?

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