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The syntax and semantics of the regular expressions supported by PCRE are described below. Regular expressions are also described in the Perl documentation and in a number of other books, some of which have copious examples. Jeffrey Friedl's "Mastering Regular Expressions", published by O'Reilly (ISBN 1-56592-257-3), covers them in great detail. The description here is intended as reference documentation.
A regular expression is a pattern that is matched against a subject string from left to right. Most characters stand for themselves in a pattern, and match the corresponding characters in the subject. As a trivial example, the pattern The quick brown fox matches a portion of a subject string that is identical to itself.