grammar consists of a number of productions. Each production has an abstract symbol called a nonterminal as its left-hand side, and a sequence of one or more nonterminal and terminal symbols as its right-hand side. For each grammar, the terminal symbols are drawn from a specified alphabet.

Starting from a sentence consisting of a single distinguished nonterminal, called the goal symbol, a given context-free grammar specifies a language, namely, the set of possible sequences of terminal symbols that can result from repeatedly replacing any nonterminal in the sequence with a right-hand side of a production for which the nonterminal is the left-hand side.


It is used to describe the tokens of programming languages.

It is used to check whether the given input is valid or not using transition d

The transition diagram has set of states and edges.

It has no start symbol.

It is useful for describing the structure of lexical constructs such asidentifiers, constants,        keywords, and so forth.


It consists of a quadruple where S → start symbol, P → production, T → terminal, V → variable or non- terminal.

It is used to check whether the given input is valid or not using derivation.

The context-free grammar has set of productions.

It has start symbol.

parentheses, matching begin- end’s and so on.

There are four categories in writing a grammar :

1. Regular Expression Vs Context Free Grammar

2.  Eliminating ambiguous grammar.

3.   Eliminating left-recursion

4.   Left-factoring.

Each parsing method can handle grammars only of a certain form hence, the initial grammar may have to be rewritten to make it parsable.

Reasons for using the regular expression to define the lexical syntax of a language

ØThe lexical rules of a language are simple and RE is used to describe them. ØRegular expressions provide a more concise and easier to understand notation for tokens than grammars.

1.      Efficient lexical analyzers can be constructed automatically from RE than from grammars.

2.      Separating the syntactic structure of a language into lexical and nonlexical parts provides a convenient way of modularizing the front end into two manageable-sized components.

Eliminating ambiguity:

 Ambiguity of the grammar that produces more than one parse tree for leftmost or rightmost derivation can be eliminated by re-writing the grammar.

 Consider this example, G: stmtifexprthenstmt|ifexprthenstmtelstmte|other This grammar is ambiguous since the string if E1 then if E2 then S1 else S2 has the following two parse trees for leftmost derivation (Fig. 2.3)

 To eliminate ambiguity, the following grammar may be used: stmtmatched|unmatchedstmt_stmt

 matchedifexprstmtthenmatchedelsematchedtmt_stmt|other unmatchedifexprsthenmtstmt|ifexprthenmatchedelseunmatchedtmt_stmt

Eliminating Left Recursion:

A grammar is said to be left recursiveifithasanon-terminal Asuch that there is a derivation A=>Aα for some string α. Top-down parsing methods cannot

handle left-recursive grammars. Hence, left recursion can be eliminated as follows:

If there is→ aαA produc|βitioncan Abe replaced with a s A→βA’

A’→αA’ | ε

without changing the set of strings derivable from A.

Algorithm to eliminate left recursion: Arrange the non-terminals in some order A1, A2 . . . An.

1. fori:= 1 tondo begin

forj:= 1 toi-1 do begin replace each

production of the form Ai → Aj γ by the

productions Ai → δ1

γ | δ2γ | . . . | δk γ

where Aj → δ1 | δ2 | . . . | δk are all the current Aj-productions;


eliminate the immediate left recursion among the Ai-productions


Fig. 2.3 Two parse trees for an ambiguous sentence

Left factoring:

Left factoring is a grammar transformation that is useful for producing a grammar suitable for predictive parsing. When it is not clear which of two alternative productions to use to expand a non-terminal A, we can rewrite the A-productions to defer the decision until we have seen enough of the input to make the right choice.

If there is any→αβ1|production2αβ,itcan beA rewritten as


A’→β1|2 β

Consider the grammar , G : S  iEtS | iEtSeS | a


Left factored, this grammar becomes

S → iEtSS’ | a

S’ → eS |ε E → b

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