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BNF
by earl, 6272 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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