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Is anyone here can explain a case where the recursive Perl/PCRE regex (?R) can be helpful ?

I read

but still can't find a use-case.

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That is the tool to use to match nested structures, like nested parenthesis.
The mathematical defined regular expressions can not match this.

\(  ( [^()]*+ | (?R) )*  \)

View it online (spaces should be ignored).

Please read:

| improve this answer | |
  • perl -lne 'print $& if /\( ( [^()]*+ | (?R) )* \)/gmx' file Very nice trick ! – Mévatlavé Kraspek 2 days ago
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The canonical example is matching an arithmetical expression containing numbers, operators and subexpressions in parentheses:

([0-9]+|\((?R)\))([-+*\/]([0-9]+|\((?R)\)))*
 ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^^  ^^^^^^^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^^
 number (subexp)   oper   number (subexp)
\______  _______/        \______  _______/
       \/                       \/
  One of those             One of those
                  \__________  ____________/
                             \/
                     Zero or more of those

that is, match

  • Either a number or a subexpression in parentheses, followed by
  • Zero or more times an operator and either a number or a subexpression in parentheses.
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