Lexical Analysis

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What Does Lexical Analysis Mean?

Lexical analysis is a concept that is applied to computer
science in a very similar way that it is applied to linguistics. Essentially,
lexical analysis means grouping a stream of letters or sounds into sets of
units that represent meaningful syntax. In linguistics, it is called parsing,
and in computer science, it can be called parsing or tokenizing.


Techopedia Explains Lexical Analysis

The idea of lexical analysis in computer science is that
lexical analysis breaks streams down into “lexemes” where a token represents
the basic unit of meaning. Tokens are strung together in such a way that the
language compiler must go back and isolate them to implement the right
computing instructions. Basically, both humans and computers do lexical
analysis, but computers do it differently, and in a much more technical way.
The way that computers do lexical analysis does not need to be transparent to
humans – it just has to be programmed into the computing system. Programs that
do lexical analysis in computer science are often called lexers, tokenizers or


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.