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Q&A

What is Backus–Naur form as applied in computer programming?

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What is Backus–Naur form as applied in computer programming?

From Wikipedia

In computer science, Backus–Naur form (/ˌbækəs ˈnaʊər/) or Backus normal form (BNF) is a metasyntax notation for context-free grammars, often used to describe the syntax of languages used in computing, such as computer programming languages, document formats, instruction sets and communication protocols. They are applied wherever exact descriptions of languages are needed: for instance, in official language specifications, in manuals, and in textbooks on programming language theory.

If I understand this correctly, this is a standardization for writing pseudo code.

Is that correct?

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> this is a standardization for writing pseudo code. Yes, > for context-free grammars What I... (3 comments)

1 answer

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For writing pseudocode? No. BNF is a notation—in practice, a family of similar notations, like how Markdown is a family of similar markup languages—for defining grammars.

In software development and computer science, a grammar is a set of rules for determining whether a sequence of symbols (characters, words, or any other small units of data) uses correct syntax for a given language. Most programming languages have their syntax specified by a grammar, and that grammar is often defined using some variation of BNF notation (although many programming languages impose additional constraints on the rules that BNF may be ill-suited to represent). But a grammar could also be used to define valid data file formats, communication protocols, or many other applications where symbols are being strung together in restricted ways to represent information.

BNF can be used formally, for example, as a way to represent a grammar to a program that will then use that grammar to parse or verify data. Or BNF can be used informally, as a way to communicate to humans what sorts of inputs will be accepted by a program or library. The latter use of BNF might be considered a form of pseudocode. But to say that BNF is a standard for writing pseudocode would be like saying that Markdown is a standard for writing blog posts—the application exists, yes, but it's a rather limited view of the concept.

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@#53410 please read the following thread and say there if you agree with elgonzo https://software.... (12 comments)

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