MathGroup Archive 2009

[Date Index] [Thread Index] [Author Index]

Search the Archive

Re: Is there a BNF for Mathematica?

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg98325] Re: [mg98309] Is there a BNF for Mathematica?
  • From: Murray Eisenberg <murray at>
  • Date: Mon, 6 Apr 2009 05:00:53 -0400 (EDT)
  • Organization: Mathematics & Statistics, Univ. of Mass./Amherst
  • References: <>
  • Reply-to: murray at

It's not at all clear to me that a BNF would be of any great use for 
Mathematica : after all, "everything is an expression" and so if you 
avoid any of the "special input forms" such as =, :=, /@, {}, [[]], 
etc., along with prefix, infix, and postfix special forms, then the 
grammar is utterly simple.

The complexities arise from (1) Attributes, such as Hold, which do not 
explicitly appear as part of the syntax one uses in entering expressions 
but affect the evaluation; and (2) the special input forms, where you 
have to begin worrying about order of precedence.

meitnik at wrote:
> I have been looking for a Backus-Naur Form grammar for Mathematica. Is
> there one out there??
> Thanks.

Murray Eisenberg                     murray at
Mathematics & Statistics Dept.
Lederle Graduate Research Tower      phone 413 549-1020 (H)
University of Massachusetts                413 545-2859 (W)
710 North Pleasant Street            fax   413 545-1801
Amherst, MA 01003-9305

  • Prev by Date: RE: Plot3D, show and text
  • Next by Date: AMERICAN MATHEMATICAL MONTHLY -April 2009:Transformations Between
  • Previous by thread: Is there a BNF for Mathematica?
  • Next by thread: Re: Is there a BNF for Mathematica?