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Re: When a string does not match itself

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg97231] Re: When a string does not match itself
  • From: "Sjoerd C. de Vries" <sjoerd.c.devries at>
  • Date: Mon, 9 Mar 2009 01:01:52 -0500 (EST)
  • References: <got8h2$go0$>

Hi Ingolf,

My explanation would be the following

The first "\\*" is a standard string. In such a string the '\' is an
escape character. For instance, "\n" is the newline character (or
perhaps the lf+cr, I forgot). It's a single character, with a single
character code. To be able to input the '\' in a string as a literal
character it can be escaped by itself. So, "\\" is the character '\'.
Therefore, "\\*" is the concatenation of the characters '\' and '*'.

The second argument of StringMatchQ can be a substring or a string
pattern. The latter may be present in an abbreviated form. In this
form, "*" stands for zero or more characters. If you want to match
with a literal '*', you'd have a problem as "\*" would be the escaped
character '*', which is a single character with character code 63432
(as can be checked with ToCharacterCode["\*"]).

So, in an abbreviated pattern string '*' has to be escaped twice,
before the pattern is interpreted as '*', i.e. as "\\*". This is
documented in the "More Information" section of StringMatchQ's

Therefore, StringMatchQ["\\*","\\*"] compares the literal characters
'\' + '*' with the literal '*', which of course returns False.

StringCases and StringPosition don't have the abbreviated string
pattern option. The can only use substrings, StringExpression and
RegularExpression. That's why they interpret the second "\

To have StringMatchQ match the two strings you could use Verbatim:

In[112]:= StringMatchQ["\\*", Verbatim["\\*"]]

Out[112]= True

Cheers -- Sjoerd

On Mar 7, 9:42 am, <ingolf.d... at> wrote:
> This is a maybe a trivial question, but I have not found the explanation =
> help (I am using Mathematica 7.0.0):
> Normally a string matches itself:
> In[270]:= StringMatchQ["monkey", "monkey"]  
> Out[270]= True
> But
> In[271]:= StringMatchQ["\\*", "\\*"]  
> Out[271]= False
> Why? Compare also to
> In[4]:= StringCases["\\*", "\\*"]  
> Out[4]= {"\\*"}
> In[267]:= StringPosition["\\*", "\\*"]  
> Out[267]= {{1, 2}}
> Best regards
> Ingolf Dahl
> Sweden
> ingolf.d... at

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