CS374: Principles of Programming Languages - Regular Expressions (100 Points)

Assignment Goals

The goals of this assignment are:
  1. To match text patterns using Regular Expressions

Background Reading and References

Please refer to the following readings and examples offering templates to help get you started:

The Assignment

The purpose of this assignment is to practice matching patterns in texts using regular expressions.

Part 1: Warmup

The Python language provides a regular expression processing library called re that you can use to match and replace text in a String. Here’s how it works:

import re

file = open("somefile.txt")
data = file.read()

offset = 0
result = []

# This will return a Match object for the first semicolon in the string
match = re.search(r";", data)

# This will print a list of the starting index (from 0) and the ending index (non-inclusive) of the match

result.append(match.span()) # keep track of all the matching positions, relative to the prior match position

nextIndex = match.span()
nextIndex = nextIndex[1]

offset = offset + nextIndex # keep track of the absolute position of the most recent match

# This will search the rest of the string for the next instance
# ... and return None if no match is found
match = re.search(r";", data[offset:])

Create a text file called somefile.txt (or something else, and you can modify your code to use this file instead!). Modify the code example above to search for semicolons in your file, in a loop, printing out the span of all found matches until the nextIndex exceeds the length of the file data, or until no match is found.

Put this code into a function that returns an array of match spans for a given regular expression string and text data:

import re

def regexmatch(pattern, file):
    # You can append your match spans to this list
    result = []
    # TODO: your code here
    return result

Don’t forget to replace r";" with the variable parameter pattern when you merge into the function!

Part 2: Regular Expressions

Write a new program based on your warmup that computes the following regular expressions, and prints a list of all the spans matching each expression. For each span that you find, print the substring (keep in mind that the ending index is non-inclusive, so your substring can omit the very last character index in each returned match).

  1. Each substring ending with a semicolon: match the whole substring. Hint: here is the regular expression: r"\w*;". The r character before the String indicates to Python that this is a “raw” String, so no escape characters are needed. Alternatively, you could use this: "\\w*;".
  2. All characters inside a set of parentheses. You can use \( and \) to represent an opening and closing parenthesis in your regular expression String (don’t forget to mark the String as a raw String so you don’t have to also escape the backslash character! You may use \w again to represent a character to match inside the parenthesis.
  3. Valid variable names. A valid variable name can be formed in one of two ways: first, a lowercase letter (not a number), followed by zero or more upper case letters, lower case letters, or numbers; alternatively, a variable name may be an upper case letter (not a number) followed by zero or more upper case letters or numbers (no lower case letters). So these are valid: aVariableName1, piTimesD, FALSE, but these are not: 2piR, AnotherVariable.
  4. All phone numbers. Phone numbers contain the following format: 1-215-555-1212; however, the leading “1-“ is optional, and the dashes may be either dashes or spaces.
  5. All lines beginning with the word DEPOSIT:.

Part 3: Limitations of Regular Expressions

In your README, discuss why it would be impossible to write a single regular expression to ensure that all opening parentheses are properly nested inside other parentheses, and balanced. In other words, why is it difficult to write a regular expression that matches these Strings: (()), (()()(())), but not these: ((()(), ())? Note: do not attempt to write this regular expression, beyond identifying that it cannot be done!

Part 3: Replacements

The re.sub(pattern, replacement, data) will look for the regular expression defined by pattern in the text specified by data, and replace each instance with the string replacement. Write a program or function to replace all instances of CS374 or CS 374 with Principles of Programming Languages.


In your submission, please include answers to any questions asked on the assignment page in your README file. If you wrote code as part of this assignment, please describe your design, approach, and implementation in your README file as well. Finally, include answers to the following questions:
  • Describe what you did, how you did it, what challenges you encountered, and how you solved them.
  • Please answer any questions found throughout the narrative of this assignment.
  • If collaboration with a buddy was permitted, did you work with a buddy on this assignment? If so, who? If not, do you certify that this submission represents your own original work?
  • Please identify any and all portions of your submission that were not originally written by you (for example, code originally written by your buddy, or anything taken or adapted from a non-classroom resource). It is always OK to use your textbook and instructor notes; however, you are certifying that any portions not designated as coming from an outside person or source are your own original work.
  • Approximately how many hours it took you to finish this assignment (I will not judge you for this at all...I am simply using it to gauge if the assignments are too easy or hard)?
  • Your overall impression of the assignment. Did you love it, hate it, or were you neutral? One word answers are fine, but if you have any suggestions for the future let me know.
  • Using the grading specifications on this page, discuss briefly the grade you would give yourself and why. Discuss each item in the grading specification.
  • Any other concerns that you have. For instance, if you have a bug that you were unable to solve but you made progress, write that here. The more you articulate the problem the more partial credit you will receive (it is fine to leave this blank).

Assignment Rubric

Description Pre-Emerging (< 50%) Beginning (50%) Progressing (85%) Proficient (100%)
Algorithm Implementation (60%) The algorithm fails on the test inputs due to major issues, or the program fails to compile and/or run The algorithm fails on the test inputs due to one or more minor issues The algorithm is implemented to solve the problem correctly according to given test inputs, but would fail if executed in a general case due to a minor issue or omission in the algorithm design or implementation A reasonable algorithm is implemented to solve the problem which correctly solves the problem according to the given test inputs, and would be reasonably expected to solve the problem in the general case
Code Quality and Documentation (30%) Code commenting and structure are absent, or code structure departs significantly from best practice, and/or the code departs significantly from the style guide Code commenting and structure is limited in ways that reduce the readability of the program, and/or there are minor departures from the style guide Code documentation is present that re-states the explicit code definitions, and/or code is written that mostly adheres to the style guide Code is documented at non-trivial points in a manner that enhances the readability of the program, and code is written according to the style guide
Writeup and Submission (10%) An incomplete submission is provided The program is submitted, but not according to the directions in one or more ways (for example, because it is lacking a readme writeup) The program is submitted according to the directions with a minor omission or correction needed, and with at least superficial responses to the bolded questions throughout The program is submitted according to the directions, including a readme writeup describing the solution, and thoughtful answers to the bolded questions throughout

Please refer to the Style Guide for code quality examples and guidelines.