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The GNU Awk User's Guide

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3. Regular Expressions

A regular expression, or regexp, is a way of describing a set of strings. Because regular expressions are such a fundamental part of awk programming, their format and use deserve a separate chapter.

A regular expression enclosed in slashes (`/') is an awk pattern that matches every input record whose text belongs to that set. The simplest regular expression is a sequence of letters, numbers, or both. Such a regexp matches any string that contains that sequence. Thus, the regexp `foo' matches any string containing `foo'. Therefore, the pattern /foo/ matches any input record containing the three characters `foo' anywhere in the record. Other kinds of regexps let you specify more complicated classes of strings.

Initially, the examples in this chapter are simple. As we explain more about how regular expressions work, we will present more complicated instances.

3.1 How to Use Regular Expressions  
3.2 Escape Sequences  How to write nonprinting characters.
3.3 Regular Expression Operators  
3.4 Using Character Lists  What can go between `[...]'.
3.5 gawk-Specific Regexp Operators  Operators specific to GNU software.
3.6 Case Sensitivity in Matching  How to do case-insensitive matching.
3.7 How Much Text Matches?  How much text matches.
3.8 Using Dynamic Regexps  


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