Can A Machine Replace Humans In Building Regular Expressions? A Case Study

posted Mar 23, 2016, 5:05 AM by Eric Medvet   [ updated Jun 7, 2016, 2:36 AM ]
Regular expressions are routinely used in a variety of different application domains. Building a regular expression involves a considerable amount of skill, expertise and creativity. In this work we investigate whether a machine may surrogate these qualities and construct automatically regular expressions for tasks of realistic complexity. We discuss a large scale experiment involving more than 1700 users on 10 challenging tasks. We compared the solutions constructed by these users to those constructed by a tool based on Genetic Programming that we have recently developed and made publicly available. The quality of automatically-constructed solutions turned out to be similar to the quality of those constructed by the most skilled user group; and, the time for automatic construction was similar to the time required by human users.
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Eric Medvet,
Nov 14, 2016, 12:49 AM