Tutorial :regular expression help with converting exp1^exp2 to pow(exp1, exp2)


I am converting some matlab code to C, currently I have some lines that have powers using the ^, which is rather easy to do with something along the lines \(?(\w*)\)?\^\(?(\w*)\)?

works fine for converting (glambda)^(galpha),using the sub routine in python pattern.sub(pow(\g<1>,\g<2>),'(glambda)^(galpha)')

My problem comes with nested parenthesis

So I have a string like:


And I can not figure out how to convert that line to:



Unfortunately, regular expressions aren't the right tool for handling nested structures. There are some regular expressions engines (such as .NET) which have some support for recursion, but most â€" including the Python engine â€" do not, and can only handle as many levels of nesting as you build into the expression (which gets ugly fast).

What you really need for this is a simple parser. For example, iterate over the string counting parentheses and storing their locations in a list. When you find a ^ character, put the most recently closed parenthesis group into a "left" variable, then watch the group formed by the next opening parenthesis. When it closes, use it as the "right" value and print the pow(left, right) expression.


I think you can use recursion here.

Once you figure out the Left and Right parts, pass each of those to your function again. The base case would be that no ^ operator is found, so you will not need to add the pow() function to your result string.

The function will return a string with all the correct pow()'s in place. I'll come up with an example of this if you want.


Nested parenthesis cannot be described by a regexp and require a full parser (able to understand a grammar, which is something more powerful than a regexp). I do not think there is a solution.


See recent discussion function-parser-with-regex-in-python (one of many similar discussions). Then follow the suggestion to pyparsing.


An alternative would be to iterate until all ^ have been exhausted. no?.

Ruby code:

# assuming str contains the string of data with the expressions you wish to convert  while str.include?('^')    str!.gsub!(/(\w+)\^(\w+)/, 'pow(\1,\2)')  end  

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