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# Details of Lex

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EXAMPLE 1
As a rst exer ise, we shall write the previous example
as a lex s ript:
%%
a*b printf("Token 1 found\n");
+ printf("Token 2 found\n");
%%
main()
{ yylex();
}

## Assume that this example is stored in a le example1.l.

To make a lexi al analyser from this lex spe i ation:
>lex example1.l

## This reates a le alled lex.yy. . This has to be om-

piled and linked to the lex library.
> -o example1 lex.yy. -ll

## Now one an invoke the lexi al analyser:

>example1
aabb ab
Token 1 found
Token 1 found
Token 2 found
Token 1 found
Token 2 found

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Note the following:

 The ore of the lex s ript lies between the two %%s.
This onsists of a series of pattern a tion pairs. a*b
is an example of a pattern. An a tion is any valid
C statement.
 Lex takes a lex s ript and produ es a le alled
lex.yy. . Among other things, this ontains the
de nition of a fun tion yylex(), whi h is the lexi al
analyser.
 The part after the se ond %% ontains the fun tion
main alling yylex.
 Linking to the lex library is required be ause lex.yy.
uses ertain prede ned fun tions like yywrap, yyless,
and yymore.
 An invo ation of yylex goes through the mat h pat-
tern ! perform a tion y le repeatedly till the en-
tire input string is over. Thus all tokens in the input
string are returned in a single invo ation of yylex.
As we have seen, it is sometimes ne essary to return
a single token for every invo ation of yylex. To do
this:
%%
a*b {printf("Token 1 found\n"); return;}
+ {printf("Token 2 found\n"); return;}
%%
main()

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{ yylex();yylex
}

>example1
aabb ab
Token 1 found
Token 1 found

##  Segments of the input string whi h do not mat h

any pattern are opied dire tly onto the output.
abb sd f
Token 1 found
Token 1 found
Token 2 found
sdToken 2 found
f

##  By default, yylex reads its input from stdin, and

writes it output to stdout.

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STRUCTURE OF A LEX SPECIFICATION
A lex program has three parts:
. . . de nition se tion. . .
%%
. . . rules se tion. . .
%%
. . . user de ned fun tions. . .
 The de nition se tion may ontain, among other
things, literal blo ks and pattern names. Literal
blo ks provide a way for initialising variables used
in the a tions. While pattern names are shorthand
for omplex patterns.
 As stated earlier, a rule is a pattern { a tion pair.
We shall examine the set of allowed patterns later.
 We have also seen the fun tion main() being de ned
in the user de ned se tion. We shall see examples
of other fun tions whi h an go in at this pla e.
 Why annot these fun tion be pla ed in the literal
blo k?

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Structure of lex.yy.c
Global Definitions:
The C definitions are inserted
verbatim over here.
Other lex defined functions and data
structures also inserted here.

yylex();

here.

## User defined functions:

main ()
yywrap()

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EXAMPLE 2
We want to ount the number of hara ters, words and
lines in a pie e of text. The resulting lexi al analyser
should be able to read its input from a le whose name
is to be supplied along with the ommand to invoke the
lexi al analyser.
%{
/* Initialisation of variables to be used in a tions */
unsigned harCount = 0, wordCount = 0, lineCount = 0;
%}

word [^ \t\n℄+
eol \n

%%

## {word} {wordCount++; harCount += yyleng;}

{eol} { harCount++; lineCount++;}
. harCount++;

%%

main(arg , argv)
int arg ;
har ** argv;
{ if (arg >1) {
FILE* file;
file = fopen(argv[1℄, "r");
if (!file){
fprintf(stderr, " ould not open %s\n", argv[1℄);

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exit(1);
}
yyin = file;
}
yylex();
printf("%d %d %d\n", harCount, wordCount, lineCount);
return 0;
}

## Assume that the resulting lexi al analyser is in a le

alled example2.
>example2 lex.yy.
>36269 5143 1526

## Based on the program we an make the following ob-

servations:
 The portion of the ode between %{ and %} is in-
serted verbatim in the early part of the generated
lexi al analyser. Thse generally onsist of de lra-
tions that would be used by the later parts.
 The de nition part also ontains names for omplex
regular expressions. The names are substituted by
the orresponding regular expressions in the rules
se tion.
 The example ontains some examples of patterns.
They are
1. [\^ \t\n℄+ { One or more repetetions of any
hara ter ex ept a blank, tab or newline.
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2. . { any hara ter ex ept a newline
 To read from a le instead of stdin, rst use fopen()
to get a le pointer to the le named in the om-
mand line argument. This le pointer is assigned
to yyin.

EXAMPLE 3
We want to extend the predvious example so that the
ounting an be done over multiple les.
%{
unsigned harCount = 0, wordCount = 0, lineCount = 0;
%}

word [^ \t\n℄+
eol \n

%%

## {word} {wordCount++; harCount += yyleng;}

{eol} { harCount++; lineCount++;}
. harCount++;

%%
int urrentfile = 1;
har **filelist;

main(arg , argv)

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int arg ;
har ** argv;
{filelist = argv;
if (arg ==1)
yylex();
else
{FILE * file;
file = fopen(filelist[ urrentfile℄,"r");
yyin = file;
yylex();
};
printf("%d %d %d \n", harCount, wordCount, lineCount);
}

int yywrap()
{
FILE* file;
/* f lose(yyin);
*/ if (filelist[++ urrentfile℄ != ( har*) 0)
{
file = fopen(filelist[ urrentfile℄, "r");
yyin = file;
return 0;
}
else return 1;
}
 This example illustrates a non-trivial use of a user
de ned fun tion.
 The fun tion yywrap has a defualt de nition in the
lex library. We want override this de nition for our
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purpose.
 When yylex hits the end of the urrent le, it alls
yywrap. If yywrap returns 1, yylex exits. Otherwise
it assumes that there is more input to be read from
the le asso iated with yyin.
 The key idea is to rede ne yywrap so that when it
is alled, yyin is bound to the next le supplied in
the ommand line and 0 is returned. This is done
until there are no more les to be read, when a 1 is
returned.

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PATTERNS
We have seen the de nition se tion and the se tion on-
taining the user de ned fun tions in a lex s ript. We
shall now examine the rules se tion. As stated earlier,
the rules se tion onsist of pattern { a tion pairs. It is
not hard to see that the power of the generated lexi al
analyser depends on the des riptive power of patterns.
1. Pattern { x, x is a single hara ter not in the lex
meta- hara ter set.
Meaning { The hara ter x itself.
Example { a
2. Pattern { \x, x is a single hara ter in the lex meta-
hara ter set.
Meaning { The hara ter x itself.
Example { \.
3. Pattern { "s", s is a string of hara ters.
Meaning { The string s literally.
Example { "[℄", the string [℄
4. Pattern { [s℄, s is a string of hara ters..
Meaning { Any single hara ter o urring in s.
Example { [ab ℄, the hara ter a, b or .
5. Pattern { [x-y℄, x and y are hara ters.
Meaning { A shorthand for a hara ter lass. De-
notes any hara ter in the range x to y.
Example { [a- ℄, the hara ter a, b or .
6. Pattern { [^s℄, s is a string of hara ters.
Meaning { Any hara ters ex ept those in string s.
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Example { [^ \t\n℄, All hara ters ex ept for a
blank, a tab or a newline.
7. Pattern { .
Meaning { Any hara ter ex ept for a newline
Example { See Example 3.
8. Pattern { p{m,n}, p is a pattern, m and nare integers
Meaning { m through n o urren es of the pattern
p.
Example { a{1,3}, The strings a, aa and aaa
9. Pattern { (p), p is a pattern
Meaning { The same as p. Parenthesis is used to
larify asso iation
Example { (ab )+, One or more o urren es of ab
10. Pattern { p1|p2, p1 and p2 are patterns
Meaning { The strings represented by p1 or p2
Example { (ab )+|de, One or more o urren es of
ab or the string de
11. Pattern { p1p2, p1 and p2 are patterns
Meaning { The strings represented by p1 on ate-
nated with those represented by p2
Example { (ab )+de, One or more o urren es of
ab followed by de
12. Pattern { p?, p is a pattern
Meaning { Zero or one o urren es of the strings
represented by p
Example { (ab )*, Zero or one p o urren es of ab .

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13. Pattern { p*, p is a pattern
Meaning { Zero or more o urren es of the strings
represented by p
Example { (ab )*, Zero or more o urren es of ab .
14. Pattern { p+, p is a pattern
Meaning { One or more o urren es of the strings
represented by p
Example { (ab )*, One or more o urren es of ab .
15. Pattern { {n}, n is a name de ned in the de nition
se tion
Meaning { The strings de ned by the pattern or-
responding to n
Example { See Example 2.

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EXAMPLES OF PATTERN USAGE
1. We want to represent real numbers through patterns.
Here are some examples of reals: .36, 45., 3.414, .21e-6.
The lex s ript de ning reals is:
DIGIT [0-9℄
%%
({DIGIT}+\.{DIGIT}*|{DIGIT}*\.{DIGIT}+)(e-?{DIGIT}+)?
%%

## Another way of doing the same thing is:

DIGIT [0-9℄
%%
{DIGIT}+\.{DIGIT}*(e-?{DIGIT}+)? |
{DIGIT}*\.{DIGIT}+(e-?{DIGIT}+)?
%%

## 2. In C, a omment is de ned as follows: The hara -

ters /* introdu e a omment, whi h terminates with the
hara ters */. Comments do not nest.
%%
"/*"[^*℄*(\*([^/*℄[^*℄*)?)*"*/" {ECHO;printf("\n");}
%%
main ()
{
yylex();
}

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/*///*/****/
/*///**/
/*///***/
/*///*a*b//**/
/**/
/*/*
The output is:
/*///*/
****/
/*///**/

/*///***/

/*///*a*b//**/

/**/

/*/*

## To understand the pattern for omments, note that the

most general form of a omment is:
1. The string \*
2. A (possibly empty) string of hara ters not ontain-
ing *.
3. Zero or more repetetions of:
a. A * followed by zero or one o urren es of:
i. Any single hara ter other than \ or * .
ii. A (possibly empty) string not ontaining *.
4. The string *\.

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3. As a third example we shall onsider the de nition
of strings. A string is a sequen e of hara ters en losed
within " and ". A " within a string is represented as ".
%%
\"[^"℄*(\"\"[^"℄*)*\" {ECHO;printf("\n");}
%%
main ()
{
yylex();
}

The input
""
""""
"jghg""nbv"
""""""
"fgb"""

gives as output
""

""""

"jghg""nbv"

""""""

"fgb"""

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MORE PATTERNS
Certain patterns are ontext dependent in the sense
that are a tive only if ertain onditions ar ful lled.
1. Pattern { ^p, p is a pattern
Meaning { Any string represented by p, provided it
o urs at the beginning of a line.
Example { Consider the lex spe i ation:
%%
^#define {printf("<");ECHO;printf(">\n");}
%%

#define #define

## The output is:

<#define>
#define

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2. Pattern { p\$, p is a pattern
Meaning { Any string represented by p, provided it
o urs at the end of a line
Example { end\$, the string end provided it o urs
at the end of a line.
3. Pattern { p1/p2, p1 and p2 are patterns
Meaning { Any string represented by p1, provided
it is followed by a string represented by p2
Example { Re all that FORTRAN ignores all spa es
ex ept those in omments and Hollerith strings.
Therefore it is usual in a Fortran ompiler to re-
move all spa es in a prepro essor pass, and then
start lexi al analysis. Then a DO statement will
appear as:
DO50k=1,20,1

## And an assignment statement might look like:

DO50k=1.20

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Here is a lex s ript that distinguishes between the
two:
letter [a-zA-Z℄
digit [0-9℄
num {digit}+
id {letter}({letter}|{digit})*
%%
DO/{num}{id}=({num}|{id}), {printf("<");
ECHO;printf(">\n");}
{id} {printf("<");
ECHO;printf(">\n");}
%%
main ()
{
yylex();
}

DO101J=1,25
DO101J=1.25

## The output is:

<DO>
101<J>
=1,25
<DO101J>
=1.25

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START STATES
Sometimes the ontext ondition annot be aptured
by the patterns given above. For example, the interpre-
tation of a token might depend on the tokens already
seen. In su h a ase one needs states
As an example, in C, the string <stdio.h> should be
interpreted as a le name, if it is pre eded #in lude.
This is done by introdu ing a state, say INCLSTATE.
We then want to say that when the lexi al analyser is in
the state INCLSTATE, interpret the string within the
angular bra kets as a lename.
%s INCLSTATE
%%
^#in lude {BEGIN INCLSTATE;}
<INCLSTATE>"<"[^>\n℄+">" {..pro ess filename..}
<INCLSTATE>\n {BEGIN INITIAL;}
%%

##  In a "normal" state, the patterns "<"[^>\n℄+">" and

\n are ina tive.
 However, the rest of the patterns are valid when the
s anner is in INCLSTATE. As an example, we also
had a token onsisting of some hara ters en losed
within < and >. Then the following s ript does not
work.

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%s INCLSTATE
%%
\<.*\> {printf("some token found\n");}
^#in lude {BEGIN INCLSTATE;}
<INCLSTATE>"<"[^>\n℄+">" {printf("<"); ECHO;
printf(">\n");}
<INCLSTATE>\n {BEGIN INITIAL;}
%%
For the input:
#in lude <stdio.h>
We get the output:
some token found
To re tify the situation, we use ex lusive states. When
the s anner is in an ex lusive state s, only the patterns
beginning with <s> are valid.
%x INCLSTATE
%%
\<.*\> {printf("some token found\n");}
^#in lude {BEGIN INCLSTATE;}
<INCLSTATE>"<"[^>\n℄+">" {printf("<"); ECHO;
printf(">\n");}
<INCLSTATE>\n {BEGIN INITIAL;}
%%
So for the same input:
#in lude <stdio.h>
We get the output:
<<stdio.h>>

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PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
We now show a omplete lexi al analyser for a small
programming language:
%{
#define LT 1
#define LE 2
#define EQ 3
#define NE 4
#define GT 5
#define GE 6
#define IF 7
#define THEN 8
#define ELSE 9
#define ID 10
#define NUMBER 11
#define RELOP 12
#define LPAREN 13
#define RPAREN 14

## typedef stru t { har* idstring;

int other_attributes;} symtab_entry;
symtab_entry symtab[SYMTABSIZE℄;

## extern int yylval;

%}

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ws [ \t\n℄+
letter [A-Za-z℄
digit [0-9℄
id {letter}({letter}|{digit})*
number {digit}+(\.{digit}+)?(E[+\-℄?{digit}+)?

%%

## {ws} {/*no a tion, no return*/}

if {return(IF);}
then {return(THEN);}
else {return(ELSE);}
{id} {yylval=install_id(); return(ID);}
{number} {yylval=atof(yytext); return(ID);}
"<" {yylval=LT; return(RELOP);}
"<=" {yylval=LE; return(RELOP);}
"=" {yylval=EQ; return(RELOP);}
"<>" {yylval=NE; return(RELOP);}
">" {yylval=GT; return(RELOP);}
">=" {yylval=GE; return(RELOP);}
"(" {return(LPAREN);}
")" {return(RPAREN);}

%%

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int hash(s)
/* given a string s returns the hash value */
har* s;
{
har* p;
unsigned h = 0, g;
for (p = s; *p != '\0'; p++) {
h = (h << 4) + (*p);
if (g = h&0xf0000000) {
h = h ^ (g >> 24);
h = h ^ g;
}
}
return h % SYMTABSIZE;
}

int install_id () {

## /* installs the identifier string in yytext

in the symbol table symtab */

int symtab_index;
symtab_index = hash(yytext);
str py(symtab[symtab_index℄.idstring, yytext);
symtab[symtab_index℄.other_attributes = yyleng;
return(symtab_index);
}

## ODDS AND ENDS

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We end by explaining a some of the fun tions and ma ros
whi h are provided by lex but have not appeared in the
example:
1 The fun tion yyless(n) pushes ba k all but the rst
n hara ters of the urrent token into the input
stream.
2 The fun tion yymore(n) appends the next token to
the urrent one. Instead of overwriting yytext, the
next token is appended to it.
As an example, onsider a pattern to mat h quoted
strings, where a quotation mark within a string an be
es aped with ba kslash.
%%
\"[^"℄*\" {if(yytext[yyleng-2℄=='\\'){
yyless(yyleng-1);
yymore();
} else printf("<%s>\n", yytext);
}

%%

## 3 The ma ro REJECT tells the lexi al analyser to ex-

e ute the rule that ontains it, and then, before
exe uting the next rule, restore the position of the
input pointer to where it was before the urrent
rule was exe uted.
This is used in situations when one token is a substring
of another.
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%%
she {printf("<she found>\n");REJECT;}
he {printf("<he found>\n");}
%%
The e e t of REJECT is not the same as yyless(0). (Why?)

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