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10.2.  A CFG for Arithmetic Expressions

An example grammar that generates strings representing arithmetic expressions with the four operators


+, -, *, /,

and numbers as operands is:

1.   <expression>: number
2.   <expression>: ( <expression> )
3.   <expression>: <expression> + <expression>
4.   <expression>: <expression> - <expression>
5.   <expression>: <expression> * <expression>
6.   <expression>: <expression> / <expression>

The only nonterminal symbol in this grammar is <expression>, which is also the start symbol. The terminal symbols are


{ +, -, *, /, (, ), number } .

(We will interpret "number" to represent any valid number.)

The first rule (or production) states that an <expression> can be rewritten as (or replaced by) a number. In other words, a number is a valid expression.

The second rule says that an <expression> enclosed in parentheses is also an <expression>. Note that this rule defines an expression in terms of expressions, an example of the use of recursion in the definition of context-free grammars.

The remaining rules say that the sum, difference, product, or division of two <expression>s is also an expression.


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Created by unroff & hp-tools. © by Hans-Peter Bischof. All Rights Reserved (1998).

Last modified: 27/July/98 (12:14)