Regular Expressions for searching

Regular expressions provide a concise way to the specify patterns to be matched in text.

In strings that contain regular expressions, most characters match themselves, with the exception of special characters used to compose regular expression constructs. These characters include \, +, ., *, {, }, [, ], ?, ^, $, (, and ). These must be preceeded by \ to match themselves. Thus, \\ matches a single backslash and \* matches *. It is an error to put a backslash in front of a character that is not one of the special characters.

The following lists show some of the constructs that can be used to build regular expressions. It is an excerpt of the Java documentation of regular expression code at:

x The character x
\\ The backslash character
\0n The character with octal value 0n (0
\0nn The character with octal value 0nn (0
\0mnn The character with octal value 0mnn (0
\xhh The character with hexadecimal value 0xhh
\uhhhh The character with hexadecimal value 0xhhhh
\t The tab character ('\u0009')
\n The newline (line feed) character ('\u000A')
\r The carriage-return character ('\u000D')
\f The form-feed character ('\u000C')
\a The alert (bell) character ('\u0007')
\e The escape character ('\u001B')
\cx The control character corresponding to x
Character classes
[abc] a, b, or c (simple class)
[^abc] Any character except a, b, or c (negation)
[a-zA-Z] a through z or A through Z, inclusive (range)
[a-d[m-p]] a through d, or m through p: [a-dm-p] (union)
[a-z&&[def]] d, e, or f (intersection)
[a-z&&[^bc]] a through z, except for b and c: [ad-z] (subtraction)
[a-z&&[^m-p]] a through z, and not m through p: [a-lq-z](subtraction)
Predefined character classes
. Any character (may or may not match line terminators)
\d A digit: [0-9]
\D A non-digit: [^0-9]
\s A whitespace character: [ \t\n\x0B\f\r]
\S A non-whitespace character: [^\s]
\w A word character: [a-zA-Z_0-9]
\W A non-word character: [^\w]
POSIX character classes (US-ASCII only)
\p{Lower} A lower-case alphabetic character: [a-z]
\p{Upper} An upper-case alphabetic character:[A-Z]
\p{ASCII} All ASCII:[\x00-\x7F]
\p{Alpha} An alphabetic character:[\p{Lower}\p{Upper}]
\p{Digit} A decimal digit: [0-9]
\p{Alnum} An alphanumeric character:[\p{Alpha}\p{Digit}]
\p{Punct} Punctuation: One of !"#$%&'()*+,-./:;?@[\]^_`{|}~
\p{Graph} A visible character: [\p{Alnum}\p{Punct}]
\p{Print} A printable character: [\p{Graph}]
\p{Blank} A space or a tab: [ \t]
\p{Cntrl} A control character: [\x00-\x1F\x7F]
\p{XDigit} A hexadecimal digit: [0-9a-fA-F]
\p{Space} A whitespace character: [ \t\n\x0B\f\r]
Classes for Unicode blocks and categories
\p{InGreek} A character in the Greek block (simple block)
\p{Lu} An uppercase letter (simple category)
\p{Sc} A currency symbol
\P{InGreek} Any character except one in the Greek block (negation)
[\p{L}&&[^\p{Lu}]] Any letter except an uppercase letter (subtraction)
Boundary matchers
^ The beginning of a line
$ The end of a line
\b A word boundary
\B A non-word boundary
\A The beginning of the input
\G The end of the previous match
\Z The end of the input but for the final terminator, if any
\z The end of the input
X? X, once or not at all
X* X, zero or more times
X+ X, one or more times
X{n} X, exactly n times
X{n,} X, at least n times
X{n,m} X, at least n but not more than m times
Logical operators
XY X followed by Y
X|Y Either X or Y
(X) X, as a group

For more information, see "Mastering Regular Expressions, 2nd Edition," Jeffrey E. F. Friedl, O'Reilly and Associates, 2002.

A tutorial on regular expressions online:

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