Simple question about Ruby Regext


#1

Hi,
I’ve been learning RUBY the past 7 months or so, and, now, my assistant
is doing the same. In her perusal of the “Programming RUBY” book, first
edition, she’s come across a simple, simple regex truism that throws
her, and throws me, too!

Why is this true?

“banana” =~ /an*/
=>1

This is driving me nuts. Why isn’t the RUBY response “=>2?” There are
two “an” stubs in “banana.”

I thought that RUBY, like PERL, is inherently greedy and it would find
all instances of said regex expression.

Thanks a lot!
Peter


#2

Peter B. wrote:

This is driving me nuts. Why isn’t the RUBY response “=>2?” There are
two “an” stubs in “banana.”
The number returned is the position of the start of match, not the
number of them.

I thought that RUBY, like PERL, is inherently greedy and it would find
all instances of said regex expression.
It is… there’s only one match, and it matches everything from the
first ‘a’ to the end of the string.

Hope this makes sense,


#3

On Jan 26, 2007, at 7:57 AM, Peter B. wrote:

I thought that RUBY, like PERL, is inherently greedy and it would find
all instances of said regex expression.

I see you already have your answer, so I will just add that those
languages are spelled Ruby and Perl. Welcome to Ruby!

James Edward G. II


#4

On 26.01.2007 15:24, Peter B. wrote:

first ‘a’ to the end of the string.
“banana”.sub(/an/, “ze”)
=> “bzeana”

What’s with that?

ri String#sub
ri String#gsub

And, for completeness reasons

ri String#sub!
ri String#gsub!

Kind regards

robert


#5

Alex Y. wrote:

Peter B. wrote:

This is driving me nuts. Why isn’t the RUBY response “=>2?” There are
two “an” stubs in “banana.”
The number returned is the position of the start of match, not the
number of them.

I thought that RUBY, like PERL, is inherently greedy and it would find
all instances of said regex expression.
It is… there’s only one match, and it matches everything from the
first ‘a’ to the end of the string.

Hope this makes sense,

Thanks, Gentlemen. I’ll watch my spelling of Ruby and Perl from now on.

I understand now that my match is only looking for the position. Cool.
Thanks. But, . . ., here’s a similar regex where I don’t want the
position, but I want to change all instances of the stub, and, it’s only
changing the first one.

“banana”.sub(/an/, “ze”)
=> “bzeana”

What’s with that?

-Peter


#6

On 26.01.2007 15:00, Alex Y. wrote:

=>1

This is driving me nuts. Why isn’t the RUBY response “=>2?” There are
two “an” stubs in “banana.”
The number returned is the position of the start of match, not the
number of them.

I thought that RUBY, like PERL, is inherently greedy and it would find
all instances of said regex expression.
It is… there’s only one match, and it matches everything from the
first ‘a’ to the end of the string.

No. It’s just matching “an”:

irb(main):001:0> “banana”[/an*/]
=> “an”

You were right if the regexp had a dot:

irb(main):002:0> “banana”[/an.*/]
=> “anana”

robert


#7

Peter B. wrote:

first ‘a’ to the end of the string.
“banana”.sub(/an/, “ze”)
=> “bzeana”
That’s explicitly what sub is for - only changing the first one. You
want gsub.


#8

try “banana”.gsub(/an/, “ze”)
=> “bzezea”


#9

Robert K. wrote:

“banana” =~ /an*/
first ‘a’ to the end of the string.

Oops :slight_smile: Sorry for any confusion. Not enough blood in my caffeine
system, obviously :slight_smile:


#10

Alex Y. wrote:

Peter B. wrote:

first ‘a’ to the end of the string.
“banana”.sub(/an/, “ze”)
=> “bzeana”
That’s explicitly what sub is for - only changing the first one. You
want gsub.

Got it. Thanks, guys. Yes, I should’ve used gsub, of course. So, I’m not
going nuts.


#11

Peter B. schrieb:

Why is this true?

“banana” =~ /an*/
=>1
As already said, it is the position of the match.

I thought that RUBY, like PERL, is inherently greedy and it would find
all instances of said regex expression.

If you want to find all matches, you should use “scan” in Ruby. There
are two
possibilities. the first one…

str = ‘banana’
str.scan(/an/) # => [“an”, “an”]

…will produce an Array object for each match (see “ri String#scan” for
details). The second one will invoke a block for each match.

str = ‘banana’
str.scan(/an/) do
puts “#$`<#$&>#$’”
end

produces:

bana
bana

Wolfgang Nádasi-Donner


#12

On Jan 26, 7:33 pm, Wolfgang Nádasi-Donner removed_email_address@domain.invalid
wrote:

The second one will invoke a block for each match.

Wolfgang Nádasi-Donner

Hey, that’s both a neat Ruby feature and a neat way to explain it :slight_smile:
Thanks
Vasudev Ram
http://www.dancingbison.com


#13

Thanks, Wolfgang. So, you suggest the use of “scan” instead of “gsub?”
That would imply the need for a block, which, seems kind of wordy, but,
it does have power. . . . Thanks again.


#14

vasudevram wrote:

On Jan 26, 7:33 pm, Wolfgang N�dasi-Donner removed_email_address@domain.invalid
wrote:

The second one will invoke a block for each match.

Wolfgang N�dasi-Donner

Hey, that’s both a neat Ruby feature and a neat way to explain it :slight_smile:
Thanks
Vasudev Ram
http://www.dancingbison.com

This is indeed the most generous of forums. I would’ve been flamed long
ago in the Perl world.


#15

This is indeed the most generous of forums. I would’ve been flamed
long
ago in the Perl world.

I suggest that it’s not a feature of Perl per se, but of the larger
number of people in Perl. Given a large enough group, you’ll always
have a percentage of people who are jerks. I’ve already run into
people who’ve treated me poorly because I was new and unfamiliar to
them.

xoxo,
Andy


#16

On Sat, 27 Jan 2007, Andy L. wrote:

This is indeed the most generous of forums. I would’ve been flamed long
ago in the Perl world.

I suggest that it’s not a feature of Perl per se, but of the larger number
of people in Perl. Given a large enough group, you’ll always have a
percentage of people who are jerks. I’ve already run into people who’ve
treated me poorly because I was new and unfamiliar to them.

in fairness to perl i’d say this is probably true. on the otherhand i
expect
that the ruby community will continue to be kind as a result of the
current
community sense of politeness and our desire for a comfortable place to
get
ruby help fast and with no bitter after taste. in summary i think it’s
up to
us to make sure this community doesn’t follow the path of many large
communities: we don’t have to accept that large means rude and
anonymous.

kind regards.

-a


#17

Yeh, I didn’t mean to denegrate Perl in any way. I worked with it just
fine for a few years. It probably does just have to do with the size of
the community, but, most of all, with my own greenness. So, kudos to all
jeweled programming languages. ( -:

-Peter


#18

On 26.01.2007 15:53, Peter B. wrote:

This is indeed the most generous of forums. I would’ve been flamed long
ago in the Perl world.

Actually we are so kind that we will even arrange for flaming if you
miss it.[1] Just place a hint in your postings. :-)))

Kind regards

robert

[1] Though I cannot guarantee that it will be a really bad flame -
people around here might be a bit out of practice. :wink:


#19

On Jan 26, 2007, at 8:45 AM, Peter B. wrote:

Thanks, Wolfgang. So, you suggest the use of “scan” instead of “gsub?”
That would imply the need for a block, which, seems kind of wordy,
but,
it does have power. . . . Thanks again.

gsub/gsub! also take a block.

Which one you use depends mainly on your purpose. Here’s how I view
the methods, in terms of a “Find and Replace” feature set common to
so many programs:

sub/sub! == Find
gsub/gsub! == Find and Replace
scan == Find All

Hope that helps.

James Edward G. II


#20

On Jan 26, 2007, at 10:44 AM, Peter B. wrote:

gsub/gsub! also take a block.

James Edward G. II

That does help, James. Thanks. But, don’t “sub” and “sub!” do a
replacement; so, they’re doing more than just finding? At least,
they’re
finding and replacing the first instance of whatever, just not
globally?

Ick. Sorry. In my defense I only got four hours of sleep last night.

Let me try my chart one more time:

sub/sub! == Find and Replace
gsub/gsub! == Replace All
scan == Find All

James Edward G. II