From: PerlFAQ Server on
This is an excerpt from the latest version perlfaq6.pod, which
comes with the standard Perl distribution. These postings aim to
reduce the number of repeated questions as well as allow the community
to review and update the answers. The latest version of the complete
perlfaq is at .


6.21: Are Perl regexes DFAs or NFAs? Are they POSIX compliant?

While it's true that Perl's regular expressions resemble the DFAs
(deterministic finite automata) of the egrep(1) program, they are in
fact implemented as NFAs (non-deterministic finite automata) to allow
backtracking and backreferencing. And they aren't POSIX-style either,
because those guarantee worst-case behavior for all cases. (It seems
that some people prefer guarantees of consistency, even when what's
guaranteed is slowness.) See the book "Mastering Regular Expressions"
(from O'Reilly) by Jeffrey Friedl for all the details you could ever
hope to know on these matters (a full citation appears in perlfaq2).


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