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Parsing Techniques: A Practical Guide (Monographs in Computer Science) Hardcover – 1 Jan 2008


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From the Back Cover

Parsing, also referred to as syntax analysis, has been and continues to be an essential part of computer science and linguistics. Today, parsing is also applied in other disciplines; some examples are document preparation and conversion, chemical formulae typesetting, and chromosome recognition.

In addition to the traditional parsing techniques, this second edition presents new developments and discoveries: generalized deterministic parsing, linear-time substring parsing, parallel parsing, parsing as intersection, non-canonical methods, non-Chomsky systems, and many more.

Parsing techniques provide a solid basis for compiler construction and linguistics, and contribute to all existing software: they enable Web browsers to analyze HTML pages and PostScript printers to analyze PostScript, and some of the more advanced techniques are used in code generation in compilers and in data compression. Also their importance as general pattern recognizers is slowly being acknowledged.

To provide readers with low-threshold access to the full field of parsing techniques, this book uses a two-tiered structure. The basic ideas behind the existing parsing techniques are explained in an intuitive and narrative style, starting from the first principles of data structures and algorithms; this provides breadth and accessibility. The hundreds of realizations and improvements of these basic ideas are explained in an extensive annotated bibliography, in a much terser, yet still informal style; this provides depth.

The reader should have an understanding of algorithmic thinking, especially recursion; however, knowledge of any particular programming language is not required.

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Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars 8 reviews
69 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The clearest, most comprehensive survey of the field 26 Jan. 2008
By Joshua Haberman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have spent the last six months of my life learning as much as I can about parsing. I own half a shelf of compiler books, and I have flipped through the pages of half a shelf more.

No other book approaches the clarity and comprehensiveness of this book.

When you try to read most literature about parsing, authors tend to throw around a lot of terms without explaining them. What exactly is a "deterministic" parser, a "canonical" parser, a "directional" parser? Grune and Jacobs explain every one of these distinctions lucidly, and put all known algorithms in context of how they compare to the rest of the field. How do the algorithms compare in what languages they can parse, how fast they are, and how much of the work can be done ahead of time? The book addresses all of these trade-offs, but doesn't stop at asymptotic complexity: in chapter 17 (the comparative survey), they note that general parsers may be a factor of ten or so slower than deterministic methods, even though both are linear. This high-level overview and comparative survey are something I was desperately seeking, and I've found nothing comparable to them anywhere.

There is also a lot of important background information that other authors tend to assume you know: for example, did you know that when authors say "LL" they almost always mean "strong LL" unless they specifically say "full LL?" Are you totally clear on the difference between strong LL, simple LL, and full LL? If you're not sure, Grune and Jacobs will give you all the explanation you need to fully understand.

This book strikes a perfect balance between breadth and depth. All significant algorithms are covered, most with enough detail to fully understand and implement them, but Grune and Jacobs punt on less practical material like proofs or rigorous formal descriptions. That information is never more than a citation away though, thanks to the 417-entry annotated bibliography, which gives you not only references to source material but a paragraph or two describing their key results.

I couldn't be happier about adding this book to my bookshelf of compiler books -- it quickly became the book I refer to most often, and I thank Grune and Jacobs for this superb guide to this vast and diverse field of computer science.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Without peer 14 April 2010
By Robert N. Jellinghaus - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
There is no book I know of that is more comprehensive, authoritative, or helpful on the topic of parsing. It is no exaggeration to call this book indispensable to anyone working on parsing technology. I mean that quite sincerely -- in terms of careful exposition, in-depth discussion, thoughtful examples, helpful diagrams, and breadth of techniques described, this book is simply the best in existence.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly easy read. 11 Jan. 2012
By r66-y - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I bought the book expecting to get overwhelmed with terminology, complex explanations and zero examples. This was absolutely not the case. This book follows examples in great detail, gives practical advice and doesn't skimp on theory either. It also leaves nothing unexplained. Any bit of parser terminology you don't understand can be quickly looked up in the index and is defined within the text.

This book is amazingly easy to read and follow. After reading the section on LL parsers, I was able to easily construct a strong LL(1) parser generator in C++.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely recommend it, easier than any other LR/LALR explanation 15 Jan. 2013
By rivantsov - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I will talk only about LR/LALR algorithms coverage - this is my personal focus. I'm the creator of Irony parser kit, and this book was my guidance in implementation of efficient LALR automaton construction. The Dragon book is quite dated today, there had been much new research and advancement in parsing algorithm since dragon times. Like DeRemer/Penello algorithm and its variations - it is much more efficient than original method described in Dragon book. I first tried to understand DeRemer/Penello reading academic papers, but did not quite succeed. Then I discovered this book - it was my savior! The algorithm is carefully explained on several pages, step by step, using clear and helpful diagrams. I carefully reproduced the algorithm in code, and got almost 10-fold perf increase compared to old dragon method.
Note that the book covers many other algorithms and parser types, and I'm sure readers interested in them would find excellent coverage. This is one of the nice things about this book - you can pick up a chapter covering your particular area, and read it, without need to read the entire book from start to end. It works as an excellent detailed reference on wide variety of parsing techniques.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This edition is NOT available on-line 22 Jan. 2008
By Robert L. Knighten - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The first edition is available at Grune's web site but this very much expanded second edition is not.
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