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by earl, 6807 days ago
Backus-Naur Form

A formal notation to describe the syntax of a language (a meta-syntax for syntax-specification). It uses three meta-symbols:

(lhs) is defined as (rhs)
alternation, or
< >
markup non-terminal symbols (rules)

The University of Geneva provides a concise overview of the historical background to BNF as well as common, basic variations.

In 1997 Niklaus Wirth suggested a successor (Wirth, 1977) which is known as EBNF. This version was standardized in 1996 as ISO 14977, the final draft can still be found online.


Wirth, N. (1977) What can we do about the unneccessary diversity of notation for syntactic definitions?. Communications of the ACM, 20 (11) p822.
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