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Be afraid. Be very afraid. For you are about to enter the mysterious and foreboding land of regular expressions. A land of strange-looking hieroglyphics. A land of many flavors and implementations. A land whose inhabitants possess seemingly magical powers over text. But fear no more, for you needn't make the journey alone: a guide and a map await you.

In this session, we'll take a whirlwind tour of the features found in most regular expression implementations. Then we'll dive deep. We'll take a peek inside a regular expression engine. From character literals to character classes, from backreferences to look-around, you'll see every step a regular expression engine takes when it parses text. By the end of the session, you'll be able to think like a regular expression engine.


Brian Friesen has been pretending to be a developer for the last 6 years and lives in constant fear of being found out. As an occasional public speaker, he prefers to talk about things that are slightly out in left field. This explains why some people know him as "the regex guy" or "the monad guy". Seriously, who wants to have those labels? Anyway, when he's not writing code, he's probably thinking about it, or, if he's sleeping, dreaming about it. In the rare case that no part of his mind is occupied by something vaguely code-related, he is probably playing with his kids or spending quality time with his wife near Detroit, where he has lived since 2012, when he took a job with the best company he has ever worked for, Quicken Loans. He is also a raging smart-alec.

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  • Jacob

    This was an excellent presentation on regex! Are the slides available online?

    October 9, 2013

    • Rich D.

      Since he didn't have real slides, let me see what we can do. Everything was a LinqPad script or his regex analyzer.

      October 9, 2013

    • Rich D.

      Today, Brian IM'd me and asked me if he ever sent me the code for this presentation (he's giving it at GANG tonight). My reply was, "please tell me you weren't hoping I was your personal GitHub." His reply was, "I was hoping you would be." It seems he formatted the thumb drive and never put the latest code in GitHub. Fortunately, he had given the same talk internally and had it all on a network share. So now the code is in GitHub, at­.

      April 16, 2014

  • Ben L.

    I don't know if many of you frequent reddit or have seen this: But there used to be the Tuesday "Regex Challenge":

    I've actually gotten this one, most of them are pretty hard. It's good practice though.

    1 · October 10, 2013

  • Jay W.

    Great job! Brian kept it interesting and entertaining.

    October 9, 2013

  • Jeremy W.

    Brian Friesen did an excellent job. He gave a very good explanation of regex and his engine really showed well how regular expressions iterate and find matches.

    October 9, 2013

  • Joel O.

    Work issue

    October 8, 2013

  • Shaun O.

    Wish I could go. Schedule conflict.

    September 26, 2013

  • Harry D.

    I'll be there

    September 26, 2013

  • Armans B.

    Excited to conquer the dark rooms of regex!

    September 26, 2013

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