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CSC 321.01, Class 04: Deploying Rails applications


  • Preliminaries
    • Notes and news
    • Upcoming work
    • Questions
  • Detour: A brief introduction to regular expressions
  • Wrap up Hartl 1
  • Start Hartl 2

News / Etc.

  • In general, I’ll have you start on the Hartl on your own and we’ll work on finishing it up during class.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help! (From me, from your classmates, from Adam, from the Interweb.)

Upcoming work

Good things to do

Nope, no extra credit.

  • CS table, Tuesday: Planning for the semester.
  • Women-in-CS, Tuesday, 7pm: Discussion of Hidden Figures.
  • Teach-in on executive order, Wednesday at 7pm.
  • CS extras, Thursday: LaTeX.
  • Swim meet Saturday, maybe Friday.


A brief introduction to regular expressions

  • We want to look for text
  • It in a long, unstructured file.
  • Individual lines.
  • When we have common problems, we build a library.
  • We also look for “optimal” (or at least good) solutions to the problem.
  • Almost everyone uses “regular expressions” for doing pattern matching in text.
  • People don’t agree on syntax or even on capabilities.
  • Regular expressions are defined recursively.
  • In Ruby, we can use STR =~ PATTERN, which appears to return the number of times the pattern matches or nil, or we can use PATTERN.match(STR), which returns a match object.
  • Match objects allow you to extract information.

Exact matches of individual characaters. a matches a. If your regular expressions are designed to accept substrings, a matches “alphabet” or “hello, it’s a lion!” or anything that includes a

irb(main):001:0> "hello" =~ /l/
=> 2
irb(main):002:0> "hello" =~ /a/
=> nil

Composition of regular expressions. If R is a regular and S is a regular expression, then RS is a regular expression, matches R and then S. aa, ac

irb(main):003:0> /aa/.match("aardvark")
=> #<MatchData "aa">
irb(main):004:0> /aa/.match("antelope")
=> nil
irb(main):005:0> /aa/.match("aa it's eh aardvark")
=> #<MatchData "aa">

. matches any one character. a.a

rb(main):006:0> /a.a/.match("aardvark")
=> nil
irb(main):007:0> /a.a/.match("alabama")
=> #<MatchData "ala">
irb(main):008:0> /a.a/.match("a aardvark")
=> #<MatchData "a a">
irb(main):009:0> /a..a/.match("alabama")
=> nil
irb(main):010:0> /a...a/.match("alabama")
=> #<MatchData "alaba">

*, the Kleene star. If R is a regular expression, R* matches 0 or more repetitions of the regular expression. Some implementations of regular expressions also allow a + for one or more repetitions.

  • binds more tightly than concatentation.

Parentheses group

irb(main):012:0* /a*/.match("um")
=> #<MatchData "">
irb(main):013:0> /a*/.match("aardvark")
=> #<MatchData "aa">
irb(main):014:0> /a*/.match("aardvaaaaark")
=> #<MatchData "aa">
irb(main):015:0> /ab*/.match("abababab")
=> #<MatchData "ab">
irb(main):016:0> /(ab)*/.match("abababab")
=> #<MatchData "abababab" 1:"ab">
irb(main):017:0> /(ab)*/.match("ababcababab")
=> #<MatchData "abab" 1:"ab">
irb(main):018:0> /c(ab)*/.match("ababcababab")
=> #<MatchData "cababab" 1:"ab">
irb(main):019:0> /d(ab)*/.match("ababcababab")
=> nil
irb(main):020:0> /(a.)*/.match("alabama")
=> #<MatchData "alabam" 1:"am">
irb(main):021:0> /(.a)*/.match("alabama")
=> #<MatchData "" 1:nil>
irb(main):022:0> /.a/.match("alabama")
=> #<MatchData "la">
irb(main):023:0> /.a/.match("alabama")
=> #<MatchData "la">
irb(main):025:0* /.*a/.match("alabama")
=> #<MatchData "alabama">
irb(main):026:0> /.*a/.match("88888888888alaba888888888ma")
=> #<MatchData "88888888888alaba888888888ma">

Parentheses also create separate entries in the match data, which you can then use as an array.

irb(main):030:0> /(.*)fox(.*)dog(.*)/.match("the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.")
=> #<MatchData "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." 1:"the quick brown " 2:" jumps over the lazy " 3:".">
irb(main):031:0> /(.*)fox(.*)dog(.*)/.match("the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.")[1]
=> "the quick brown "

Literal interpretation of special characters Use a backslash.

irb(main):027:0> /*/.match("3 * 4")
SyntaxError: (irb):27: target of repeat operator is not specified: /*/
        from /usr/bin/irb:11:in `<main>'
irb(main):028:0> /\*/.match("3 * 4")
=> #<MatchData "*">

Others: `\.`, `\\`, `\*`, `\(`, `\^`, `\)`, `[`, `\]`, ...
**Sets of characters** `[characters]`.  Negate with `[^characters]`.
Also predefined sets.  Does not work with regular expressions, only
individual characters.

**Bound to location in string.**  `^` start of the string, `$` end.

irb(main):035:0> /[aeiou]*/.match("boo")
=> #<MatchData "">
irb(main):036:0> /[aeiou]/.match("boo")
=> #<MatchData "o">
irb(main):037:0> /[qrs]/.match("boo")
=> nil
irb(main):038:0> /[^qrs]/.match("boo")
=> #<MatchData "b">
irb(main):039:0> /^o/.match("observe")
=> #<MatchData "o">
irb(main):040:0> /o$/.match("observe")
=> nil
irb(main):041:0> /[aeiou]*$/.match("boo")
=> #<MatchData "oo">

**`|` for either/or**

rb(main):042:0> /and|or/.match(“this and that”) => #<MatchData “and”> irb(main):043:0> /and|or/.match(“this or that”) => #<MatchData “or”> irb(main):044:0> /and|or/.match(“this but not that”) => nil ```

We do not have general negation (or we should not).

Sam’s favorite hard regular expression to write: C comments, which start with slash-star and end with star-slash, and can have almost anything in between. Try to extract the contents of the comment.

Some things you should not match, or not match completely.

  • 3 / 4 * 5 * 6 / 7 - slash and star must be neighbors
  • /* hello */ /* goodbye */ - two comments
  • /* hello */ */ - invalid; bind closing comments tightly

One incorrect solution: /\/\*(.)*\*\//.match(...)[1]

What do you do with the match data? Typically, (a) check that it exists (there’s a match); (b) extract parts.

Wrap up Hartl 1

Start Hartl 2