Ir  Regular Expressions

IrRegular Expressions

Alex Shinn

 (require irregex) package: irregex
This package contains Alex Shinn’s "IrRegex". It’s a regular expression matcher, including both a traditional character-based syntax and also an implementation of Olin Shivers’ SRE parenthesized syntax.
The code was written for standard Scheme, more specifically R[4567]RS code.
I (John Clements) have performed a hasty port of this code to Racket. The required changes were extremely minimal, so it should be possible to stay up-to-date with upstream changes.
What follows is the verbatim text of "irregex.doc", part of the original package.


\title{IrRegular Expressions}


\hyperlink[]{Alex Shinn}

\hyperlink[]{Download Version 0.9.9}



At this moment there was a loud ring at the bell, and I could

hear Mrs. Hudson, our landlady, raising her voice in a wail of

expostulation and dismay.


"By heaven, Holmes," I said, half rising, "I believe that

they are really after us."


"No, it's not quite so bad as that.  It is the unofficial

force, -- the Baker Street irregulars."}}}


A fully portable and efficient R[4567]RS implementation of regular

expressions, supporting both POSIX syntax with various (irregular)

PCRE extensions, as well as SCSH's SRE syntax, with various aliases

for commonly used patterns.  DFA matching is used when possible,

otherwise a closure-compiled NFA approach is used.  The library makes

no assumptions about the encoding of strings or range of characters

and can thus be used in Unicode-aware Scheme implementations.

Matching may be performed over standard Scheme strings, or over

arbitrarily chunked streams of strings.







  (load "irregex.scm")



in your favorite Scheme implementation and you're good to go!


There is a global variable \scheme{*all-chars*} which is used for

generating character set complements.  This defaults to the full

Unicode range 0..#x10FFFF, but if your implementation can't handle

characters that large you'll need to adjust it (a suitable ASCII

definition is commented out in the source).


If using an R7RS Schem you can use irregex.sld, or install

\scheme{(chibi irregex)} from \url{}.


If you are using an R6RS Scheme, you can instead



  (load "irregex-r6rs.scm")



There are also a handful of utility procedures described below you may

wish to use in irregex-utils.scm.


If you are using Chicken Scheme IrRegex is built in as a core unit, so

no need to install it.  To use it, you just need to \scheme{(use irregex)}.






\subsubsection{(irregex <posix-string-or-sre> [<options> ...])}

\subsubsection{(string->irregex <posix-string> [<options> ...])}

\subsubsection{(sre->irregex <sre> [<options> ...])}


Compiles a regular expression from either a POSIX-style regular

expression string (with most PCRE extensions) or an SCSH-style SRE.

There is no \scheme{(rx ...)} syntax - just use normal Scheme lists, with

\scheme{quasiquote} if you like.


Technically a string by itself could be considered a valid (though

rather silly) SRE, so if you want to just match a literal string you

should use something like \scheme{(irregex `(: ,str))}, or use the explicit

\scheme{(sre->irregex str)}.


The options are a list of any of the following symbols:


  \scheme{'i}, \scheme{'case-insensitive} - match case-insensitively


  \scheme{'m}, \scheme{'multi-line}       - treat string as multiple lines (effects ^ and $)


  \scheme{'s}, \scheme{'single-line}      - treat string as a single line (. can match newline)


  \scheme{'utf8}             - utf8-mode (assumes strings are byte-strings)


  \scheme{'fast}             - try to optimize the regular expression


  \scheme{'small}            - try to compile a smaller regular expression


  \scheme{'backtrack}        - enforce a backtracking implementation


The \scheme{'fast} and \scheme{'small} options are heuristic guidelines and will

not necessarily make the compiled expression faster or smaller.


\subsubsection{(string->sre <str>)}

\subsubsection{(maybe-string->sre <obj>)}


For backwards compatibility, procedures to convert a POSIX string into

an SRE.


\scheme{maybe-string->sre} does the same thing, but only if the argument is

a string, otherwise it assumes \scheme{<obj>} is an SRE and returns it

as-is.  This is useful when you want to provide an API that allows

either a POSIX string or SRE (like \scheme{irregex} or \scheme{irregex-search}

below) - it ensures the result is an SRE.


\subsubsection{(irregex? <obj>)}


Returns \scheme{#t} iff the object is a regular expression.


\subsubsection{(irregex-search <irx> <str> [<start> <end>])}


Searches for any instances of the pattern <irx> (a POSIX string, SRE

sexp, or pre-compiled regular expression) in <str>, optionally between

the given range.  If a match is found, returns a match object,

otherwise returns \scheme{#f}.


Match objects can be used to query the original range of the string or

its submatches using the \scheme{irregex-match-*} procedures below.




  \scheme{(irregex-search "foobar" "abcFOOBARdef") => #f}


  \scheme{(irregex-search (irregex "foobar" 'i) "abcFOOBARdef") => #<match>}


  \scheme{(irregex-search '(w/nocase "foobar") "abcFOOBARdef") => #<match>}


Note, the actual match result is represented by a vector in the

default implementation.  Throughout this document, we'll just write

\scheme{<match>} to show that a successful match was returned when the

details are not important.


Matching follows the POSIX leftmost, longest semantics, when

searching.  That is, of all possible matches in the string,

\scheme{irregex-search} will return the match at the first position

(leftmost).  If multiple matches are possible from that same first

position, the longest match is returned.


\subsubsection{(irregex-match <irx> <str> [<start> <end>])}


Like \scheme{irregex-search}, but performs an anchored match against the

beginning and end of the substring specified by <start> and <end>,

without searching.




  \scheme{(irregex-match '(w/nocase "foobar") "abcFOOBARdef") => #f}


  \scheme{(irregex-match '(w/nocase "foobar") "FOOBAR") => #<match>}


\subsubsection{(irregex-match-data? <obj>)}


Returns \scheme{#t} iff the object is a successful match result from

\scheme{irregex-search} or \scheme{irregex-match}.


\subsubsection{(irregex-num-submatches <irx>)}

\subsubsection{(irregex-match-num-submatches <match>)}


Returns the number of numbered submatches that are defined in the

irregex or match object.


\subsubsection{(irregex-names <irx>)}

\subsubsection{(irregex-match-names <match>)}


Returns an association list of named submatches that are defined in

the irregex or match object.  The \scheme{car} of each item in this list is

the name of a submatch, the \scheme{cdr} of each item is the numerical

submatch corresponding to this name.  If a named submatch occurs

multiple times in the irregex, it will also occur multiple times in

this list.


\subsubsection{(irregex-match-valid-index? <match> <index-or-name>)}


Returns \scheme{#t} iff the \scheme{index-or-name} named submatch or index is

defined in the \scheme{match} object.


\subsubsection{(irregex-match-substring <match> [<index-or-name>])}

\subsubsection{(irregex-match-start-index <match> [<index-or-name>])}

\subsubsection{(irregex-match-end-index <match> [<index-or-name>])}


Fetches the matched substring (or its start or end offset) at the

given submatch index, or named submatch.  The entire match is index 0,

the first 1, etc.  The default is index 0.


\subsubsection{(irregex-match-subchunk <match> [<index-or-name>])}


Generates a chunked data-type for the given match item, of the same

type as the underlying chunk type (see Chunked String Matching below).

This is only available if the chunk type specifies the get-subchunk

API, otherwise an error is raised.


\subsubsection{(irregex-replace <irx> <str> [<replacements> ...])}

\subsubsection{(irregex-replace/all <irx> <str> [<replacements> ...])}


Matches a pattern in a string, and replaces it with a (possibly empty)

list of substitutions.  Each \scheme{<replacement>} can be either a string

literal, a numeric index, a symbol (as a named submatch), or a

procedure which takes one argument (the match object) and returns a





  \scheme{(irregex-replace "[aeiou]" "hello world" "*") => "h*llo world"}


  \scheme{(irregex-replace/all "[aeiou]" "hello world" "*") => "h*ll* w*rld"}


  \scheme{(irregex-replace/all '(* "poo ") "poo poo platter" "*") => "**p*l*a*t*t*e*r"}


\subsubsection{(irregex-split <irx> <str> [<start> <end>])}

\subsubsection{(irregex-extract <irx> <str> [<start> <end>])}


\scheme{irregex-split} splits the string \scheme{<str>} into substrings divided

by the pattern in \scheme{<irx>}.  \scheme{irregex-extract} does the opposite,

returning a list of each instance of the pattern matched disregarding

the substrings in between.


Empty matches will result in subsequent single character string in

\scheme{irregex-split}, or empty strings in \scheme{irregex-extract}.


  \scheme{(irregex-split "[aeiou]*" "foobarbaz") => '("f" "b" "r" "b" "z")}


  \scheme{(irregex-extract "[aeiou]*" "foobarbaz") => '("" "oo" "" "a" "" "" "a" "")}


\subsubsection{(irregex-fold <irx> <kons> <knil> <str> [<finish> <start> <end>])}


This performs a fold operation over every non-overlapping place

\scheme{<irx>} occurs in the string \scheme{str}.


The \scheme{<kons>} procedure takes the following signature:


  \scheme{(<kons> <from-index> <match> <seed>)}


where \scheme{<from-index>} is the index from where we started searching

(initially \scheme{<start>} and thereafter the end index of the last

match), \scheme{<match>} is the resulting match-data object, and \scheme{<seed>}

is the accumulated fold result starting with \scheme{<knil>}.


The rationale for providing the \scheme{<from-index>} (which is not

provided in the SCSH \scheme{regexp-fold} utility), is because this

information is useful (e.g. for extracting the unmatched portion of

the string before the current match, as needed in

\scheme{irregex-replace/all}), and not otherwise directly accessible.


Note when the pattern matches an empty string, to avoid an infinite

loop we continue from one char after the end of the match (as opposed

to the end in the normal case).  The \scheme{<from-index>} passed to

the subsequent \scheme{<kons>} or \scheme{<finish>} still refers to

the original previous match end, however, so \scheme{irregex-split}

and \scheme{irregex-replace/all}, etc. do the right thing.


The optional \scheme{<finish>} takes two arguments:


  \scheme{(<finish> <from-index> <seed>)}


which similarly allows you to pick up the unmatched tail of the string,

and defaults to just returning the \scheme{<seed>}.


\scheme{<start>} and \scheme{<end>} are numeric indices letting you specify the

boundaries of the string on which you want to fold.


To extract all instances of a match out of a string, you can use



(map irregex-match-substring

     (irregex-fold <irx>

                   (lambda (i m s) (cons m s))



                   (lambda (i s) (reverse s))))}


Note if an empty match is found \scheme{<kons>} will be called on that

empty string, and to avoid an infinite loop matching will resume at

the next char.  It is up to the programmer to do something sensible

with the skipped char in this case.


\subsection{Extended SRE Syntax}


Irregex provides the first native implementation of SREs (Scheme

Regular Expressions), and includes many extensions necessary both for

minimal POSIX compatibility, as well as for modern extensions found in

libraries such as PCRE.


The following table summarizes the SRE syntax, with detailed

explanations following.



  ;; basic patterns

  <string>                          ; literal string

  (seq <sre> ...)                   ; sequence

  (: <sre> ...)

  (or <sre> ...)                    ; alternation


  ;; optional/multiple patterns

  (? <sre> ...)                     ; 0 or 1 matches

  (* <sre> ...)                     ; 0 or more matches

  (+ <sre> ...)                     ; 1 or more matches

  (= <n> <sre> ...)                 ; exactly <n> matches

  (>= <n> <sre> ...)                ; <n> or more matches

  (** <from> <to> <sre> ...)        ; <n> to <m> matches

  (?? <sre> ...)                    ; non-greedy (non-greedy) pattern: (0 or 1)

  (*? <sre> ...)                    ; non-greedy kleene star

  (**? <from> <to> <sre> ...)       ; non-greedy range


  ;; submatch patterns

  (submatch <sre> ...)              ; numbered submatch

  ($ <sre> ...)

  (submatch-named <name> <sre> ...) ; named submatch

  (=> <name> <sre> ...)

  (backref <n-or-name>)             ; match a previous submatch


  ;; toggling case-sensitivity

  (w/case <sre> ...)                ; enclosed <sre>s are case-sensitive

  (w/nocase <sre> ...)              ; enclosed <sre>s are case-insensitive


  ;; character sets

  <char>                            ; singleton char set

  (<string>)                        ; set of chars

  (or <cset-sre> ...)               ; set union

  (~ <cset-sre> ...)                ; set complement (i.e. [^...])

  (- <cset-sre> ...)                ; set difference

  (& <cset-sre> ...)                ; set intersection

  (/ <range-spec> ...)              ; pairs of chars as ranges


  ;; named character sets




  lower-case     lower

  upper-case     upper

  alphabetic     alpha

  numeric        num

  alphanumeric   alphanum  alnum

  punctuation    punct

  graphic        graph

  whitespace     white     space

  printing       print

  control        cntrl

  hex-digit      xdigit


  ;; assertions and conditionals

  bos eos                           ; beginning/end of string

  bol eol                           ; beginning/end of line

  bow eow                           ; beginning/end of word

  nwb                               ; non-word-boundary

  (look-ahead <sre> ...)            ; zero-width look-ahead assertion

  (look-behind <sre> ...)           ; zero-width look-behind assertion

  (neg-look-ahead <sre> ...)        ; zero-width negative look-ahead assertion

  (neg-look-behind <sre> ...)       ; zero-width negative look-behind assertion

  (atomic <sre> ...)                ; for (?>...) independent patterns

  (if <test> <pass> [<fail>])       ; conditional patterns

  commit                            ; don't backtrack beyond this (i.e. cut)


  ;; backwards compatibility

  (posix-string <string>)           ; embed a POSIX string literal



\subsubsection{Basic SRE Patterns}


The simplest SRE is a literal string, which matches that string



  \scheme{(irregex-search "needle" "hayneedlehay") => #<match>}


By default the match is case-sensitive, though you can control this

either with the compiler flags or local overrides:


  \scheme{(irregex-search "needle" "haynEEdlehay") => #f}


  \scheme{(irregex-search (irregex "needle" 'i) "haynEEdlehay") => #<match>}


  \scheme{(irregex-search '(w/nocase "needle") "haynEEdlehay") => #<match>}


You can use \scheme{w/case} to switch back to case-sensitivity inside a

\scheme{w/nocase} or when the SRE was compiled with \scheme{'i}:


  \scheme{(irregex-search '(w/nocase "SMALL" (w/case "BIG")) "smallBIGsmall") => #<match>}


  \scheme{(irregex-search '(w/nocase "small" (w/case "big")) "smallBIGsmall") => #f}


\b{Important:} characters outside the ASCII range are only matched

case insensitively if the host Scheme system natively supports UTF8 in



Of course, literal strings by themselves aren't very interesting

regular expressions, so we want to be able to compose them.  The most

basic way to do this is with the \scheme{seq} operator (or its abbreviation

\scheme{:}), which matches one or more patterns consecutively:


  \scheme{(irregex-search '(: "one" space "two" space "three") "one two three") => #<match>}


As you may have noticed above, the \scheme{w/case} and \scheme{w/nocase}

operators allowed multiple SREs in a sequence - other operators that

take any number of arguments (e.g. the repetition operators below)

allow such implicit sequences.


To match any one of a set of patterns use the \scheme{or} alternation



  \scheme{(irregex-search '(or "eeney" "meeney" "miney") "meeney") => #<match>}


  \scheme{(irregex-search '(or "eeney" "meeney" "miney") "moe") => #f}


\subsubsection{SRE Repetition Patterns}


There are also several ways to control the number of times a pattern

is matched.  The simplest of these is \scheme{?} which just optionally

matches the pattern:


  \scheme{(irregex-search '(: "match" (? "es") "!") "matches!") => #<match>}


  \scheme{(irregex-search '(: "match" (? "es") "!") "match!") => #<match>}


  \scheme{(irregex-search '(: "match" (? "es") "!") "matche!") => #f}


To optionally match any number of times, use \scheme{*}, the Kleene star:


  \scheme{(irregex-search '(: "<" (* (~ #\\>)) ">") "<html>") => #<match>}


  \scheme{(irregex-search '(: "<" (* (~ #\\>)) ">") "<>") => #<match>}


  \scheme{(irregex-search '(: "<" (* (~ #\\>)) ">") "<html") => #f}


Often you want to match any number of times, but at least one time is

required, and for that you use \scheme{+}:


  \scheme{(irregex-search '(: "<" (+ (~ #\\>)) ">") "<html>") => #<match>}


  \scheme{(irregex-search '(: "<" (+ (~ #\\>)) ">") "<a>") => #<match>}


  \scheme{(irregex-search '(: "<" (+ (~ #\\>)) ">") "<>") => #f}


More generally, to match at least a given number of times, use \scheme{>=}:


  \scheme{(irregex-search '(: "<" (>= 3 (~ #\\>)) ">") "<table>") => #<match>}


  \scheme{(irregex-search '(: "<" (>= 3 (~ #\\>)) ">") "<pre>") => #<match>}


  \scheme{(irregex-search '(: "<" (>= 3 (~ #\\>)) ">") "<tr>") => #f}


To match a specific number of times exactly, use \scheme{=}:


  \scheme{(irregex-search '(: "<" (= 4 (~ #\\>)) ">") "<html>") => #<match>}


  \scheme{(irregex-search '(: "<" (= 4 (~ #\\>)) ">") "<table>") => #f}


And finally, the most general form is \scheme{**} which specifies a range

of times to match.  All of the earlier forms are special cases of this.


  \scheme{(irregex-search '(: (= 3 (** 1 3 numeric) ".") (** 1 3 numeric)) "") => #<match>}


  \scheme{(irregex-search '(: (= 3 (** 1 3 numeric) ".") (** 1 3 numeric)) "192.0168.1.10") => #f}


There are also so-called "non-greedy" variants of these repetition

operators, by convention suffixed with an additional \scheme{?}.  Since the

normal repetition patterns can match any of the allotted repetition

range, these operators will match a string if and only if the normal

versions matched.  However, when the endpoints of which submatch

matched where are taken into account (specifically, all matches when

using irregex-search since the endpoints of the match itself matter),

the use of a non-greedy repetition can change the result.


So, whereas \scheme{?} can be thought to mean "match or don't match,"

\scheme{??} means "don't match or match."  \scheme{*} typically consumes as much

as possible, but \scheme{*?} tries first to match zero times, and only

consumes one at a time if that fails.  If you have a greedy operator

followed by a non-greedy operator in the same pattern, they can

produce surprisins results as they compete to make the match longer or

shorter.  If this seems confusing, that's because it is.  Non-greedy

repetitions are defined only in terms of the specific backtracking

algorithm used to implement them, which for compatibility purposes

always means the Perl algorithm.  Thus, when using these patterns you

force IrRegex to use a backtracking engine, and can't rely on

efficient execution.


\subsubsection{SRE Character Sets}


Perhaps more common than matching specific strings is matching any of

a set of characters.  You can use the \scheme{or} alternation pattern on a

list of single-character strings to simulate a character set, but this

is too clumsy for everyday use so SRE syntax allows a number of



A single character matches that character literally, a trivial

character class.  More conveniently, a list holding a single element

which is a string refers to the character set composed of every

character in the string.


  \scheme{(irregex-match '(* #\\-) "---") => #<match>}


  \scheme{(irregex-match '(* #\\-) "-_-") => #f}


  \scheme{(irregex-match '(* ("aeiou")) "oui") => #<match>}


  \scheme{(irregex-match '(* ("aeiou")) "ouais") => #f}


Ranges are introduced with the \scheme{/} operator.  Any strings or

characters in the \scheme{/} are flattened and then taken in pairs to

represent the start and end points, inclusive, of character ranges.


  \scheme{(irregex-match '(* (/ "AZ09")) "R2D2") => #<match>}


  \scheme{(irregex-match '(* (/ "AZ09")) "C-3PO") => #f}


In addition, a number of set algebra operations are provided.  \scheme{or},

of course, has the same meaning, but when all the options are

character sets it can be thought of as the set union operator.  This

is further extended by the \scheme{&} set intersection, \scheme{-} set

difference, and \scheme{~} set complement operators.


  \scheme{(irregex-match '(* (& (/ "az") (~ ("aeiou")))) "xyzzy") => #<match>}


  \scheme{(irregex-match '(* (& (/ "az") (~ ("aeiou")))) "vowels") => #f}


  \scheme{(irregex-match '(* (- (/ "az") ("aeiou"))) "xyzzy") => #<match>}


  \scheme{(irregex-match '(* (- (/ "az") ("aeiou"))) "vowels") => #f}


\subsubsection{SRE Assertion Patterns}


There are a number of times it can be useful to assert something about

the area around a pattern without explicitly making it part of the

pattern.  The most common cases are specifically anchoring some

pattern to the beginning or end of a word or line or even the whole

string.  For example, to match on the end of a word:


  \scheme{(irregex-search '(: "foo" eow) "foo") => #<match>}


  \scheme{(irregex-search '(: "foo" eow) "foo!") => #<match>}


  \scheme{(irregex-search '(: "foo" eow) "foof") => #f}


The \scheme{bow}, \scheme{bol}, \scheme{eol}, \scheme{bos} and \scheme{eos} work similarly.

\scheme{nwb} asserts that you are not in a word-boundary - if replaced for

\scheme{eow} in the above examples it would reverse all the results.


There is no \scheme{wb}, since you tend to know from context whether it

would be the beginning or end of a word, but if you need it you can

always use \scheme{(or bow eow)}.


Somewhat more generally, Perl introduced positive and negative

look-ahead and look-behind patterns.  Perl look-behind patterns are

limited to a fixed length, however the IrRegex versions have no such



  \scheme{(irregex-search '(: "regular" (look-ahead " expression"))

                     "regular expression")

      => #<match>}


The most general case, of course, would be an \scheme{and} pattern to

complement the \scheme{or} pattern - all the patterns must match or the

whole pattern fails.  This may be provided in a future release,

although it (and look-ahead and look-behind assertions) are unlikely

to be compiled efficiently.


\subsubsection{SRE Utility Patterns}


The following utility regular expressions are also provided for common

patterns that people are eternally reinventing.  They are not

necessarily the official patterns matching the RFC definitions of the

given data, because of the way that such patterns tend to be used.

There are three general usages for regexps:


\item*{searching} - search for a pattern matching a desired object in a larger text


\item*{validation} - determine whether an entire string matches a pattern


\item*{extraction} - given a string already known to be valid, extract certain fields from it as submatches


In some cases, but not always, these will overlap.  When they are

different, \scheme{irregex-search} will naturally always want the searching

version, so IrRegex provides that version.


As an example where these might be different, consider a URL.  If you

want to match all the URLs in some arbitrary text, you probably want

to exclude a period or comma at the tail end of a URL, since it's more

likely being used as punctuation rather than part of the URL, despite

the fact that it would be valid URL syntax.


Another problem with the RFC definitions is the standard itself may

have become irrelevant.  For example, the pattern IrRegex provides for

email addresses doesn't match quoted local parts (e.g.  "first

last" because these are increasingly rare, and unsupported

by enough software that it's better to discourage their use.

Conversely, technically consecutive periods

(e.g. are not allowed in email addresses, but

most email software does allow this, and in fact such addresses are

quite common in Japan.


The current patterns provided are:



  newline                        ; general newline pattern (crlf, cr, lf)

  integer                        ; an integer

  real                           ; a real number (including scientific)

  string                         ; a "quoted" string

  symbol                         ; an R5RS Scheme symbol

  ipv4-address                   ; a numeric decimal ipv4 address

  ipv6-address                   ; a numeric hexadecimal ipv6 address

  domain                         ; a domain name

  domain/common                  ; a domain ending in a common TLD like .com

  email                          ; an email address

  http-url                       ; a URL beginning with https?://



Because of these issues the exact definitions of these patterns are

subject to be changed, but will be documented clearly when they are

finalized.  More common patterns are also planned, but as what you

want increases in complexity it's probably better to use a real



\subsection{Supported PCRE Syntax}


Since the PCRE syntax is so overwhelming complex, it's easier to just

list what we *don't* support for now.  Refer to the

\hyperlink[]{PCRE documentation} for details.  You

should be using the SRE syntax anyway!


Unicode character classes (\\P) are not supported, but will be

in an upcoming release.  \\C named characters are not supported.


Callbacks, subroutine patterns and recursive patterns are not

supported.  (*FOO) patterns are not supported and may never be.


\\G and \\K are not supported.


Octal character escapes are not supported because they are ambiguous

with back-references - just use hex character escapes.


Other than that everything should work, including named submatches,

zero-width assertions, conditional patterns, etc.


In addition, \\< and \\> act as beginning-of-word and end-of-word marks,

respectively, as in Emacs regular expressions.


Also, two escapes are provided to embed SRE patterns inside PCRE

strings, "\\'<sre>" and "(*'<sre>)".  For example, to match a

comma-delimited list of integers you could use




and to match a URL in angle brackets you could use




Note in the second example the enclosing "('*...)" syntax is needed

because the Scheme reader would consider the closing ">" as part of

the SRE symbol.


The following chart gives a quick reference from PCRE form to the SRE




  ;; basic syntax

  "^"                     ;; bos (or eos inside (?m: ...))

  "$"                     ;; eos (or eos inside (?m: ...))

  "."                     ;; nonl

  "a?"                    ;; (? a)

  "a*"                    ;; (* a)

  "a+"                    ;; (+ a)

  "a??"                   ;; (?? a)

  "a*?"                   ;; (*? a)

  "a+?"                   ;; (+? a)

  "a{n,m}"                ;; (** n m a)


  ;; grouping

  "(...)"                 ;; (submatch ...)

  "(?:...)"               ;; (: ...)

  "(?i:...)"              ;; (w/nocase ...)

  "(?-i:...)"             ;; (w/case ...)

  "(?<name>...)"          ;; (=> <name>...)


  ;; character classes

  "[aeiou]"               ;; ("aeiou")

  "[^aeiou]"              ;; (~ "aeiou")

  "[a-z]"                 ;; (/ "az") or (/ "a" "z")

  "[[:alpha:]]"           ;; alpha


  ;; assertions

  "(?=...)"               ;; (look-ahead ...)

  "(?!...)"               ;; (neg-look-ahead ...)

  "(?<=...)"              ;; (look-behind ...)

  "(?<!...)"              ;; (neg-look-behind ...)

  "(?(test)pass|fail)"    ;; (if test pass fail)

  "(*COMMIT)"             ;; commit



\subsection{Chunked String Matching}


It's often desirable to perform regular expression matching over

sequences of characters not represented as a single string.  The most

obvious example is a text-buffer data structure, but you may also want

to match over lists or trees of strings (i.e. ropes), over only

certain ranges within a string, over an input port, etc.  With

existing regular expression libraries, the only way to accomplish this

is by converting the abstract sequence into a freshly allocated

string.  This can be expensive, or even impossible if the object is a

text-buffer opened onto a 500MB file.


IrRegex provides a chunked string API specifically for this purpose.

You define a chunking API with


\subsubsection{(make-irregex-chunker <get-next> <get-string> [<get-start> <get-end> <get-substring> <get-subchunk>])}




  \scheme{(<get-next> chunk) => } returns the next chunk, or \scheme{#f} if there are no more chunks


  \scheme{(<get-string> chunk) => } a string source for the chunk


  \scheme{(<get-start> chunk) => } the start index of the result of \scheme{<get-string>} (defaults to always 0)


  \scheme{(<get-end> chunk) => } the end (exclusive) of the string (defaults to \scheme{string-length} of the source string)


  \scheme{(<get-substring> cnk1 i cnk2 j) => } a substring for the range between the chunk \scheme{cnk1} starting at index \scheme{i} and ending at \scheme{cnk2} at index \scheme{j}


  \scheme{(<get-subchunk> cnk1 i cnk2 j) => } as above but returns a new chunked data type instead of a string (optional)


There are two important constraints on the \scheme{<get-next>} procedure.

It must return an \scheme{eq?} identical object when called multiple times

on the same chunk, and it must not return a chunk with an empty string

(start == end).  This second constraint is for performance reasons -

we push the work of possibly filtering empty chunks to the chunker

since there are many chunk types for which empty strings aren't

possible, and this work is thus not needed.  Note that the initial

chunk passed to match on is allowed to be empty.


\scheme{<get-substring>} is provided for possible performance improvements

- without it a default is used.  \scheme{<get-subchunk>} is optional -

without it you may not use \scheme{irregex-match-subchunk} described above.


You can then match chunks of these types with the following



\subsubsection{(irregex-search/chunked <irx> <chunker> <chunk> [<start>])}

\subsubsection{(irregex-match/chunked <irx> <chunker> <chunk> [<start>])}


These return normal match-data objects.




To match against a simple, flat list of strings use:



  (define (rope->string rope1 start rope2 end)

    (if (eq? rope1 rope2)

        (substring (car rope1) start end)

        (let loop ((rope (cdr rope1))

                   (res (list (substring (car rope1) start))))

           (if (eq? rope rope2)

               (string-concatenate-reverse      ; from SRFI-13

                (cons (substring (car rope) 0 end) res))

               (loop (cdr rope) (cons (car rope) res))))))


  (define rope-chunker

    (make-irregex-chunker (lambda (x) (and (pair? (cdr x)) (cdr x)))


                          (lambda (x) 0)

                          (lambda (x) (string-length (car x)))



  (irregex-search/chunked <pat> rope-chunker <list-of-strings>)



Here we are just using the default start, end and substring behaviors,

so the above chunker could simply be defined as:



  (define rope-chunker

    (make-irregex-chunker (lambda (x) (and (pair? (cdr x)) (cdr x))) car))



\subsubsection{(irregex-fold/chunked <irx> <kons> <knil> <chunker> <chunk> [<finish> [<start-index>]])}


Chunked version of \scheme{irregex-fold}.




The following procedures are available in irregex-utils.scm.


\subsubsection{(irregex-quote <str>)}


Returns a new string with any special regular expression characters

escaped, to match the original string literally in POSIX regular



\subsubsection{(irregex-opt <list-of-strings>)}


Returns an optimized SRE matching any of the literal strings

in the list, like Emacs' \scheme{regexp-opt}.  Note this optimization

doesn't help when irregex is able to build a DFA.


\subsubsection{(sre->string <sre>)}


Convert an SRE to a PCRE-style regular expression string, if





  0.6   - full PCRE support (DONE)


  0.7   - chunked string API (DONE)


  0.8   - utilities and API finalization (DONE)


  0.9   - refactoring, implementation-specific performance enhancements (DONE)


  1.0   - cleanup and better documentation




Copyright (c) 2005-2021 Alex Shinn

All rights reserved.


Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without

modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions

are met:


1. Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright

   notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.

2. Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright

   notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the

   documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.

3. The name of the author may not be used to endorse or promote products

   derived from this software without specific prior written permission.















\bibitem{R5RS} R. Kelsey, W. Clinger, J. Rees (eds.)

\hyperlink[]{Revised^5 Report on the Algorithmic Language Scheme}


\bibitem{ImplementingRegexps} Russ Cox

\hyperlink[]{Implementing Regular Expressions}


\bibitem{Tcl} Russ Cox

\hyperlink[]{Henry Spencer's Tcl Regex Library}


\bibitem{SRE} Olin Shivers

\hyperlink[]{Proposed SRE regular-expression notation}


\bibitem{SCSH} Olin Shivers

\hyperlink[]{Pattern-matching strings with regular expressions}


\bibitem{Gauche} Shiro Kawai

\hyperlink[]{Gauche Scheme - Regular Expressions}


\bibitem{Perl6} Damian Conway

\hyperlink[]{Perl6 Exegesis 5 - Regular Expressions}


\bibitem{PCRE} Philip Hazel

\hyperlink[]{PCRE - Perl Compatible Regular Expressions}


\bibitem{tNFAs} Ville Laurikari

\hyperlink[]{NFAs with Tagged Transitions, their Conversion to Deterministic Automata and Application to Regular Expressions}


\bibitem{RegexpSubmatches} Ville Laurikari

\hyperlink[]{Efficient submatch addressing for regular expressions}