A regular expression (sometimes abbreviated to "regex") is a way for a computer user or programmer to express how a computer program should look for a specified pattern in text and then what the program is to do when each pattern match is found. For example, a regular expression could tell a program to search for all text lines that contain the word "Windows 95" and then to print out each line in which a match is found or substitute another text sequence (for example, just "Windows") where any match occurs.
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The best known tool for specifying and handling the incidence of regular expressions is grep, a utility found in UNIX-based operating systems and also offered as a separate utility program for Windows and other operating systems.