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Regular Expression — Python module

| February 4, 2013 | 2 Comments
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reRegular expression is for matching operations similar to those found in Perl. Both patterns and strings to be searched can be Unicode strings as well as 8-bit strings. Regular expression is a specific pattern that provides concise and flexible means to “match” (specify and recognize) strings of text, such as particular characters, words, or patterns of characters. Common abbreviations for “regular expression” include regex and regexp.
Regular expressions use the backslash character (‘\’) to indicate special forms or to allow special characters to be used without invoking their special meaning. This collides with Python’s usage of the same character for the same purpose in string literals; for example, to match a literal backslash, one might have to write ‘\\\\’ as the pattern string, because the regular expression must be \\, and each backslash must be expressed as \\ inside a regular Python string literal.
The solution is to use Python’s raw string notation for regular expression patterns; backslashes are not handled in any special way in a string literal prefixed with ‘r’. So r”\n” is a two-character string containing ‘\’ and ‘n’, while “\n” is a one-character string containing a newline. Usually patterns will be expressed in Python code using this raw string notation.
It is important to note that most regular expression operations are available as module-level functions and RegexObject methods. The functions are shortcuts that don’t require you to compile a regex object first, but miss some fine-tuning parameters.
Regular expressions special characters:
‘.’
(Dot.) In the default mode, this matches any character except a newline. If the DOTALL flag has been specified, this matches any character including a newline.
‘^’
(Caret.) Matches the start of the string, and in MULTILINE mode also matches immediately after each newline.
‘$’
Matches the end of the string or just before the newline at the end of the string, and in MULTILINE mode also matches before a newline. foo matches both ‘foo’ and ‘foobar’, while the regular expression foo$ matches only ‘foo’. More interestingly, searching for foo.$ in ‘foo1\nfoo2\n’ matches ‘foo2’ normally, but ‘foo1’ in MULTILINE mode; searching for a single $ in ‘foo\n’ will find two (empty) matches: one just before the newline, and one at the end of the string.
‘*’
Causes the resulting RE to match 0 or more repetitions of the preceding RE, as many repetitions as are possible. ab* will match ‘a’, ‘ab’, or ‘a’ followed by any number of ‘b’s.
‘+’
Causes the resulting RE to match 1 or more repetitions of the preceding RE. ab+ will match ‘a’ followed by any non-zero number of ‘b’s; it will not match just ‘a’.
‘?’
Causes the resulting RE to match 0 or 1 repetitions of the preceding RE. ab? will match either ‘a’ or ‘ab’.
*?, +?, ??
The ‘*’, ‘+’, and ‘?’ qualifiers are all greedy; they match as much text as possible. Sometimes this behaviour isn’t desired; if the RE <.*> is matched against ‘
{m}
Specifies that exactly m copies of the previous RE should be matched; fewer matches cause the entire RE not to match. For example, a{6} will match exactly six ‘a’ characters, but not five.
{m,n}
Causes the resulting RE to match from m to n repetitions of the preceding RE, attempting to match as many repetitions as possible. For example, a{3,5} will match from 3 to 5 ‘a’ characters. Omitting m specifies a lower bound of zero, and omitting n specifies an infinite upper bound. As an example, a{4,}b will match aaaab or a thousand ‘a’ characters followed by a b, but not aaab. The comma may not be omitted or the modifier would be confused with the previously described form.
{m,n}?
Causes the resulting RE to match from m to n repetitions of the preceding RE, attempting to match as few repetitions as possible. This is the non-greedy version of the previous qualifier. For example, on the 6-character string ‘aaaaaa’, a{3,5} will match 5 ‘a’ characters, while a{3,5}? will only match 3 characters.
‘\’
Either escapes special characters (permitting you to match characters like ‘*’, ‘?’, and so forth), or signals a special sequence; special sequences are discussed below.
If you’re not using a raw string to express the pattern, remember that Python also uses the backslash as an escape sequence in string literals; if the escape sequence isn’t recognized by Python’s parser, the backslash and subsequent character are included in the resulting string. However, if Python would recognize the resulting sequence, the backslash should be repeated twice. This is complicated and hard to understand, so it’s highly recommended that you use raw strings for all but the simplest expressions.
[]
Used to indicate a set of characters. In a set:
Characters can be listed individually, e.g. [amk] will match ‘a’, ‘m’, or ‘k’.
Ranges of characters can be indicated by giving two characters and separating them by a ‘-‘, for example [a-z] will match any lowercase ASCII letter, [0-5][0-9] will match all the two-digits numbers from 00 to 59, and [0-9A-Fa-f] will match any hexadecimal digit. If – is escaped (e.g. [a\-z]) or if it’s placed as the first or last character (e.g. [a-]), it will match a literal ‘-‘.
Special characters lose their special meaning inside sets. For example, [(+*)] will match any of the literal characters ‘(‘, ‘+’, ‘*’, or ‘)’.
Character classes such as \w or \S (defined below) are also accepted inside a set, although the characters they match depends on whether LOCALE or UNICODE mode is in force.
Characters that are not within a range can be matched by complementing the set. If the first character of the set is ‘^’, all the characters that are not in the set will be matched. For example, [^5] will match any character except ‘5’, and [^^] will match any character except ‘^’. ^ has no special meaning if it’s not the first character in the set.
To match a literal ‘]’ inside a set, precede it with a backslash, or place it at the beginning of the set. For example, both [()[\]{}] and []()[{}] will both match a parenthesis.
‘|’
A|B, where A and B can be arbitrary REs, creates a regular expression that will match either A or B. An arbitrary number of REs can be separated by the ‘|’ in this way. This can be used inside groups (see below) as well. As the target string is scanned, REs separated by ‘|’ are tried from left to right. When one pattern completely matches, that branch is accepted. This means that once A matches, B will not be tested further, even if it would produce a longer overall match. In other words, the ‘|’ operator is never greedy. To match a literal ‘|’, use \|, or enclose it inside a character class, as in [|].
(…)
Matches whatever regular expression is inside the parentheses, and indicates the start and end of a group; the contents of a group can be retrieved after a match has been performed, and can be matched later in the string with the \number special sequence, described below. To match the literals ‘(‘ or ‘)’, use \( or \), or enclose them inside a character class: [(] [)].
(?…)
This is an extension notation (a ‘?’ following a ‘(‘ is not meaningful otherwise). The first character after the ‘?’ determines what the meaning and further syntax of the construct is. Extensions usually do not create a new group; (?P…) is the only exception to this rule. Following are the currently supported extensions.
(?iLmsux)
(One or more letters from the set ‘i’, ‘L’, ‘m’, ‘s’, ‘u’, ‘x’.) The group matches the empty string; the letters set the corresponding flags: re.I (ignore case), re.L (locale dependent), re.M (multi-line), re.S (dot matches all), re.U (Unicode dependent), and re.X (verbose), for the entire regular expression. (The flags are described in Module Contents.) This is useful if you wish to include the flags as part of the regular expression, instead of passing a flag argument to the re.compile() function.
Note that the (?x) flag changes how the expression is parsed. It should be used first in the expression string, or after one or more whitespace characters. If there are non-whitespace characters before the flag, the results are undefined.
(?:…)
A non-capturing version of regular parentheses. Matches whatever regular expression is inside the parentheses, but the substring matched by the group cannot be retrieved after performing a match or referenced later in the pattern.
(?P…)
Similar to regular parentheses, but the substring matched by the group is accessible within the rest of the regular expression via the symbolic group name name. Group names must be valid Python identifiers, and each group name must be defined only once within a regular expression. A symbolic group is also a numbered group, just as if the group were not named. So the group named id in the example below can also be referenced as the numbered group 1.
For example, if the pattern is (?P[a-zA-Z_]\w*), the group can be referenced by its name in arguments to methods of match objects, such as m.group(‘id’) or m.end(‘id’), and also by name in the regular expression itself (using (?P=id)) and replacement text given to .sub() (using \g).
(?P=name)
Matches whatever text was matched by the earlier group named name.
(?#…)
A comment; the contents of the parentheses are simply ignored.
(?=…)
Matches if … matches next, but doesn’t consume any of the string. This is called a lookahead assertion. For example, Isaac (?=Asimov) will match ‘Isaac ‘ only if it’s followed by ‘Asimov’.
(?!…)
Matches if … doesn’t match next. This is a negative lookahead assertion. For example, Isaac (?!Asimov) will match ‘Isaac ‘ only if it’s not followed by ‘Asimov’.
(?<=…)
Matches if the current position in the string is preceded by a match for … that ends at the current position. This is called a positive lookbehind assertion. (?<=abc)def will find a match in abcdef, since the lookbehind will back up 3 characters and check if the contained pattern matches. The contained pattern must only match strings of some fixed length, meaning that abc or a|b are allowed, but a* and a{3,4} are not. Note that patterns which start with positive lookbehind assertions will never match at the beginning of the string being searched; you will most likely want to use the search() function rather than the match() function:

 >>> import re
>>> m = re.search('(?<=abc)def', 'abcdef') >>> m.group(0)
'def'

This example looks for a word following a hyphen:

>>> m = re.search('(?<=-)\w+', 'spam-egg') >>> m.group(0)
'egg'

(?<!…)
Matches if the current position in the string is not preceded by a match for …. This is called a negative lookbehind assertion. Similar to positive lookbehind assertions, the contained pattern must only match strings of some fixed length. Patterns which start with negative lookbehind assertions may match at the beginning of the string being searched.
(?(id/name)yes-pattern|no-pattern)
Will try to match with yes-pattern if the group with given id or name exists, and with no-pattern if it doesn’t. no-pattern is optional and can be omitted. For example, (<)?(\w+@\w+(?:\.\w+)+)(?(1)>) is a poor email matching pattern, which will match with ‘<user@host.com>’ as well as ‘user@host.com’, but not with ‘<user@host.com’.
The special sequences consist of ‘\’ and a character from the list below. If the ordinary character is not on the list, then the resulting RE will match the second character. For example, \$ matches the character ‘$’.
\number
Matches the contents of the group of the same number. Groups are numbered starting from 1. For example, (.+) \1 matches ‘the the’ or ’55 55′, but not ‘the end’ (note the space after the group). This special sequence can only be used to match one of the first 99 groups. If the first digit of number is 0, or number is 3 octal digits long, it will not be interpreted as a group match, but as the character with octal value number. Inside the ‘[‘ and ‘]’ of a character class, all numeric escapes are treated as characters.
\A
Matches only at the start of the string.
\b
Matches the empty string, but only at the beginning or end of a word. A word is defined as a sequence of alphanumeric or underscore characters, so the end of a word is indicated by whitespace or a non-alphanumeric, non-underscore character. Note that \b is defined as the boundary between \w and \W, so the precise set of characters deemed to be alphanumeric depends on the values of the UNICODE and LOCALE flags. Inside a character range, \b represents the backspace character, for compatibility with Python’s string literals.
\B
Matches the empty string, but only when it is not at the beginning or end of a word. This is just the opposite of \b, so is also subject to the settings of LOCALE and UNICODE.
\d
When the UNICODE flag is not specified, matches any decimal digit; this is equivalent to the set [0-9]. With UNICODE, it will match whatever is classified as a decimal digit in the Unicode character properties database.
\D
When the UNICODE flag is not specified, matches any non-digit character; this is equivalent to the set [^0-9]. With UNICODE, it will match anything other than character marked as digits in the Unicode character properties database.
\s
When the LOCALE and UNICODE flags are not specified, matches any whitespace character; this is equivalent to the set [ \t\n\r\f\v]. With LOCALE, it will match this set plus whatever characters are defined as space for the current locale. If UNICODE is set, this will match the characters [ \t\n\r\f\v] plus whatever is classified as space in the Unicode character properties database.
\S
When the LOCALE and UNICODE flags are not specified, matches any non-whitespace character; this is equivalent to the set [^ \t\n\r\f\v] With LOCALE, it will match any character not in this set, and not defined as space in the current locale. If UNICODE is set, this will match anything other than [ \t\n\r\f\v] and characters marked as space in the Unicode character properties database.
\w
When the LOCALE and UNICODE flags are not specified, matches any alphanumeric character and the underscore; this is equivalent to the set [a-zA-Z0-9_]. With LOCALE, it will match the set [0-9_] plus whatever characters are defined as alphanumeric for the current locale. If UNICODE is set, this will match the characters [0-9_] plus whatever is classified as alphanumeric in the Unicode character properties database.
\W
When the LOCALE and UNICODE flags are not specified, matches any non-alphanumeric character; this is equivalent to the set [^a-zA-Z0-9_]. With LOCALE, it will match any character not in the set [0-9_], and not defined as alphanumeric for the current locale. If UNICODE is set, this will match anything other than [0-9_] and characters marked as alphanumeric in the Unicode character properties database.
\Z
Matches only at the end of the string.
Most of the standard escapes supported by Python string literals are also accepted by the regular expression parser:
\a \b \f \n
\r \t \v \x
\\Octal escapes are included in a limited form: If the first digit is a 0, or if there are three octal digits, it is considered an octal escape. Otherwise, it is a group reference. As for string literals, octal escapes are always at most three digits in length.

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My name is John Link.I am 26 years old. My major is Computer science and technology. I am a junior programmer with Python.

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