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README
Introduction

   TRE is a lightweight, robust, and efficient POSIX compliant regexp
   matching library with some exciting features such as approximate
   (fuzzy) matching.

   The matching algorithm used in TRE uses linear worst-case time in
   the length of the text being searched, and quadratic worst-case
   time in the length of the used regular expression. In other words,
   the time complexity of the algorithm is O(M^2N), where M is the
   length of the regular expression and N is the length of the
   text. The used space is also quadratic on the length of the regex,
   but does not depend on the searched string. This quadratic
   behaviour occurs only on pathological cases which are probably very
   rare in practice.

Features

   TRE is not just yet another regexp matcher. TRE has some features
   which are not there in most free POSIX compatible
   implementations. Most of these features are not present in non-free
   implementations either, for that matter.

Approximate matching

   Approximate pattern matching allows matches to be approximate, that
   is, allows the matches to be close to the searched pattern under
   some measure of closeness. TRE uses the edit-distance measure (also
   known as the Levenshtein distance) where characters can be
   inserted, deleted, or substituted in the searched text in order to
   get an exact match. Each insertion, deletion, or substitution adds
   the distance, or cost, of the match. TRE can report the matches
   which have a cost lower than some given threshold value. TRE can
   also be used to search for matches with the lowest cost.

   TRE includes a version of the agrep (approximate grep) command line
   tool for approximate regexp matching in the style of grep. Unlike
   other agrep implementations (like the one by Sun Wu and Udi Manber
   from University of Arizona available here) TRE agrep allows full
   regexps of any length, any number of errors, and non-uniform costs
   for insertion, deletion and substitution.

Strict standard conformance

   POSIX defines the behaviour of regexp functions precisely. TRE
   attempts to conform to these specifications as strictly as
   possible. TRE always returns the correct matches for subpatterns,
   for example. Very few other implementations do this correctly. In
   fact, the only other implementations besides TRE that I am aware of
   (free or not) that get it right are Rx by Tom Lord, Regex++ by John
   Maddock, and the AT&T ast regex by Glenn Fowler and Doug McIlroy.

   The standard TRE tries to conform to is the IEEE Std 1003.1-2001,
   or Open Group Base Specifications Issue 6, commonly referred to as
   "POSIX".  It can be found online here. The relevant parts are the
   base specifications on regular expressions (and the rationale) and
   the description of the regcomp() API.

   For an excellent survey on POSIX regexp matchers, see the testregex
   pages by Glenn Fowler of AT&T Labs Research.

Predictable matching speed

   Because of the matching algorithm used in TRE, the maximum time
   consumed by any regexec() call is always directly proportional to
   the length of the searched string. There is one exception: if back
   references are used, the matching may take time that grows
   exponentially with the length of the string. This is because
   matching back references is an NP complete problem, and almost
   certainly requires exponential time to match in the worst case.

Predictable and modest memory consumption

   A regexec() call never allocates memory from the heap. TRE
   allocates all the memory it needs during a regcomp() call, and some
   temporary working space from the stack frame for the duration of
   the regexec() call. The amount of temporary space needed is
   constant during matching and does not depend on the searched
   string. For regexps of reasonable size TRE needs less than 50K of
   dynamically allocated memory during the regcomp() call, less than
   20K for the compiled pattern buffer, and less than two kilobytes of
   temporary working space from the stack frame during a regexec()
   call. There is no time/memory tradeoff. TRE is also small in code
   size; statically linking with TRE increases the executable size
   less than 30K (gcc-3.2, x86, GNU/Linux).

Wide character and multibyte character set support

   TRE supports multibyte character sets. This makes it possible to
   use regexps seamlessly with, for example, Japanese locales. TRE
   also provides a wide character API.

Binary pattern and data support

   TRE provides APIs which allow binary zero characters both in
   regexps and searched strings. The standard API cannot be easily
   used to, for example, search for printable words from binary data
   (although it is possible with some hacking). Searching for patterns
   which contain binary zeroes embedded is not possible at all with
   the standard API.

Completely thread safe

   TRE is completely thread safe. All the exported functions are
   re-entrant, and a single compiled regexp object can be used
   simultaneously in multiple contexts; e.g. in main() and a signal
   handler, or in many threads of a multithreaded application.

Portable

   TRE is portable across multiple platforms. Here's a table of
   platforms and compilers that have been successfully used to compile
   and run TRE:

      Platform(s)                       | Compiler(s)
      ----------------------------------+------------
      AIX 4.3.2 - 5.3.0                 | GCC, C for AIX compiler version 5
      Compaq Tru64 UNIX V5.1A/B         | Compaq C V6.4-014 - V6.5-011
      Cygwin 1.3 - 1.5                  | GCC
      Digital UNIX V4.0                 | DEC C V5.9-005
      FreeBSD 4 and above               | GCC
      GNU/Linux systems on x86, x86_64, | GCC
      ppc64, s390			|
      HP-UX 10.20- 11.00                | GCC, HP C Compiler
      IRIX 6.5                          | GCC, MIPSpro Compilers 7.3.1.3m
      Max OS X				|
      NetBSD 1.5 and above              | GCC, egcs
      OpenBSD 3.3 and above             | GCC
      Solaris 2.7-10 sparc/x86          | GCC, Sun Workshop 6 compilers
      Windows 98 - XP                   | Microsoft Visual C++ 6.0

   TRE 0.7.5 should compile without changes on all of the above
   platforms.  Tell me if you are using TRE on a platform that is not
   listed above, and I'll add it to the list. Also let me know if TRE
   does not work on a listed platform.

   Depending on the platform, you may need to install libutf8 to get
   wide character and multibyte character set support.

 Free

   TRE is released under a license which is essentially the same as
   the "2 clause" BSD-style license used in NetBSD.  See the file
   LICENSE for details.

Roadmap

   There are currently two features, both related to collating
   elements, missing from 100% POSIX compliance. These are:

     * Support for collating elements (e.g. [[.<X>.]], where <X> is a
       collating element). It is not possible to support
       multi-character collating elements portably, since POSIX does
       not define a way to determine whether a character sequence is a
       multi-character collating element or not.

     * Support for equivalence classes, for example [[=<X>=]], where
       <X> is a collating element. An equivalence class matches any
       character which has the same primary collation weight as
       <X>. Again, POSIX provides no portable mechanism for
       determining the primary collation weight of a collating
       element.

   Note that other portable regexp implementations don't support
   collating elements either. The single exception is Regex++, which
   comes with its own database for collating elements for different
   locales. Support for collating elements and equivalence classes has
   not been widely requested and is not very high on the TODO list at
   the moment.

   These are other features I'm planning to implement real soon now:

     * All the missing GNU extensions enabled in GNU regex, such as
       [[:<:]] and [[:>:]]

     * A REG_SHORTEST regexec() flag for returning the shortest match
       instead of the longest match.

     * Perl-compatible syntax

            [:^class:]
               Matches anything but the characters in class. Note that
               [^[:class:]] works already, this would be just a
               convenience shorthand.

            \A
               Match only at beginning of string

            \Z
               Match only at end of string, or before newline at the end

            \z
               Match only at end of string

            \l
               Lowercase next char (think vi)

            \u
               Uppercase next char (think vi)

            \L
               Lowercase till \E (think vi)

            \U
               Uppercase till \E (think vi)

            (?=pattern)
               Zero-width positive look-ahead assertions.

            (?!pattern)
               Zero-width negative look-ahead assertions.

            (?<=pattern)
               Zero-width positive look-behind assertions.

            (?<!pattern)
               Zero-width negative look-behind assertions.

   Documentation especially for the nonstandard features of TRE, such
   as approximate matching, is a work in progress (with "progress"
   loosely defined...)

   Mailing lists

   tre-general@lists.laurikari.net
      This list is for any discussion on the TRE software, including
      reporting bugs, feature requests, requests for help, and other
      things.

   tre-announce@lists.laurikari.net
      Subscribe to this list to get announcements of new releases of
      TRE.  Alternatively, you can subscribe to the freshmeat.net
      project and get similar announcements that way, if you prefer.

Ville Laurikari    <vl@iki.fi>
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