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Introduction

Bison is a general-purpose parser generator that converts an annotated context-free grammar into a deterministic LR or generalized LR (GLR) parser employing LALR(1) parser tables. As an experimental feature, Bison can also generate IELR(1) or canonical LR(1) parser tables. Once you are proficient with Bison, you can use it to develop a wide range of language parsers, from those used in simple desk calculators to complex programming languages.

Bison is upward compatible with Yacc: all properly-written Yacc grammars ought to work with Bison with no change. Anyone familiar with Yacc should be able to use Bison with little trouble. You need to be fluent in C or C++ programming in order to use Bison or to understand this manual. Java is also supported as an experimental feature.

We begin with tutorial chapters that explain the basic concepts of using Bison and show three explained examples, each building on the last. If you don’t know Bison or Yacc, start by reading these chapters. Reference chapters follow, which describe specific aspects of Bison in detail.

Bison was written originally by Robert Corbett. Richard Stallman made it Yacc-compatible. Wilfred Hansen of Carnegie Mellon University added multi-character string literals and other features. Since then, Bison has grown more robust and evolved many other new features thanks to the hard work of a long list of volunteers. For details, see the THANKS and ChangeLog files included in the Bison distribution.

This edition corresponds to version 3.0.2 of Bison.