How do I use reluctant quantifier regex?

The reluctant quantifiers start the matcher at the beginning of the input string, then reluctantly eat one character at a time looking for a match. The last thing they try is the entire input string.

package org.kodejava.example.util.regex;

import java.util.regex.Matcher;
import java.util.regex.Pattern;

public class ReluctantQuantifierDemo {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        String[] expressions =
                {"x??", "x*?", "x+?", "x{2}?", "x{2,}?", "x{2,5}?"};
        String input = "xxxxxxx";

        for (String expression : expressions) {
            Pattern pattern = Pattern.compile(expression);
            Matcher matcher = pattern.matcher(input);

            // Find every match and print it
            System.out.println("------------------------------");
            System.out.format("regex:  %s %n", expression);
            while (matcher.find()) {
                System.out.format("Text \"%s\" found at %d to %d%n",
                        matcher.group(), matcher.start(),
                        matcher.end());
            }
        }
    }
}

The results of the snippet shown below:

regex:  x?? 
Text "" found at 0 to 0
Text "" found at 1 to 1
Text "" found at 2 to 2
Text "" found at 3 to 3
Text "" found at 4 to 4
Text "" found at 5 to 5
Text "" found at 6 to 6
Text "" found at 7 to 7
------------------------------
regex:  x*? 
Text "" found at 0 to 0
Text "" found at 1 to 1
Text "" found at 2 to 2
Text "" found at 3 to 3
Text "" found at 4 to 4
Text "" found at 5 to 5
Text "" found at 6 to 6
Text "" found at 7 to 7
------------------------------
regex:  x+? 
Text "x" found at 0 to 1
Text "x" found at 1 to 2
Text "x" found at 2 to 3
Text "x" found at 3 to 4
Text "x" found at 4 to 5
Text "x" found at 5 to 6
Text "x" found at 6 to 7
------------------------------
regex:  x{2}? 
Text "xx" found at 0 to 2
Text "xx" found at 2 to 4
Text "xx" found at 4 to 6
------------------------------
regex:  x{2,}? 
Text "xx" found at 0 to 2
Text "xx" found at 2 to 4
Text "xx" found at 4 to 6
------------------------------
regex:  x{2,5}? 
Text "xx" found at 0 to 2
Text "xx" found at 2 to 4
Text "xx" found at 4 to 6
Wayan Saryada

Wayan Saryada

A programmer, runner, recreational diver, currently living in the island of Bali, Indonesia. Mostly programming in Java, creating web based application with Spring Framework, JPA, etc. If you need help on Java programming you can hire me on Fiverr.
Wayan Saryada

2 Comments

  1. public static boolean validateState(String state) {
        return state.matches("[1-9]d{2}-[1-9]d{4}");
    }
    

    Why this function takes 3 digit before hyphen and 5 after hyphen when I have put 2 and 4 in the brackets? Kindly Help.

  2. Hi Usaman,

    That’s because your regex was defined that way. The [1-9] give you the first digit and d{2} give you another 2 digits which make 3 digits before the hyphen. The same thing to the expression after the hyphen.

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