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Prefix grammar

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Title: Prefix grammar  
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Subject: Regular grammar, Regular language, List of computability and complexity topics, L-system, Formal languages
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Prefix grammar

In theoretical computer science and formal language theory, a prefix grammar is a type of string rewriting system, consisting of a set of string rewriting rules, and similar to a formal grammar or a semi-Thue system. What is specific about prefix grammars is not the shape of their rules, but the way in which they are applied: only prefixes are rewritten. The prefix grammars describe exactly all regular languages.[1]


  • Formal definition 1
  • Example 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4

Formal definition

A prefix grammar G is a 3-tuple, (Σ, S, P), where

  • Σ is a finite alphabet
  • S is a finite set of base strings over Σ
  • P is a set of production rules of the form uv where u and v are strings over Σ

For strings x, y, we write x →G y (and say: G can derive y from x in one step) if there are strings u, v, w such that x = vu, y = wu, and v → w is in P. Note that G is a binary relation on the strings of Σ.

The language of G, denoted L(G), is the set of strings derivable from S in zero or more steps: formally, the set of strings w such that for some s in S, s R w, where R is the transitive closure of G.


The prefix grammar

  • Σ = {0, 1}
  • S = {01, 10}
  • P = {0 → 010, 10 → 100}

describes the language defined by the regular expression

01(01)^* \cup 100^*

See also


  1. ^ M. Frazier and C. D. Page. Prefix grammars: An alternative characterization of the regular languages. Information Processing Letters, 51(2):67–71, 1994.
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