Extended Regular Expressions: Succinctness and Decidability

Dominik D. Freydenberger
Most modern implementations of regular expression engines allow the use of variables (also called back references). The resulting extended regular expressions (which, in the literature, are also called practical regular expressions, rewbr, or regex) are able to express non-regular languages. The present paper demonstrates that extended regular-expressions cannot be minimized effectively (neither with respect to length, nor number of variables), and that the tradeoff in size between extended and ``classical'' regular expressions is not bounded...