Scanning and Parsing

All parsing routines are located in mathics.core.parser.

See the that appears in that directory for detailed information on how scanning and parsing works.


You won’t find much on the scanner there, so we’ll describe a little bit here. There are two passes made in the scanner, a “pre-scan” in found in mathics.core.parser.prescanner which converts some WL-specific character codes to character or long names and the mathics.core.parser.tokeniser which runs after that. The tokenizer breaks up a string into tokens, classifications of a sequence of characters, which is then as the atoms on which the parser pattern matches on.


There is a bit written in on parsing, so we won’t describe that, but the main points are:

To see a translation of the Full-Form input the flag --full-form can be given to the command-line utilities mathics or mathicsscript.

Here is an example:

$ mathics --full-form

Mathics 2.0.0dev
Quit by pressing CONTROL-D

In[1]:= 1 + 2 / 3
System`Plus[1, System`Times[2, System`Power[3, -1]]]
Out[1]= 5 / 3

Note that this is different from formatting the output:

In[2]:= (x + 1) / 3
System`Times[System`Plus[Global`x, 1], System`Power[3, -1]]
Out[2]= (x + 1) / 3
In[3]:= (x + 1) / 3 // FullForm
System`FullForm[System`Times[System`Plus[Global`x, 1], System`Power[3, -1]]]
Out[3]= Times[Rational[1, 3], Plus[1, x]]

Some things to notice:

  • Parsing fully-qualifies names. So we have System`Times instead of Times, even though the FullForm output shows the simple name.

  • Parsing removes parenthesis used for grouping capturing this instead by the function nesting order

Python Code for Parsing an String

Inside Python, here is how you parse a string:

from mathics.core.parser import parse, SingleLineFeeder
from mathics.core.definitions import Definitions

definitions = Definitions(add_builtin=True)
str_expression = "1 + 2 / 3"
expr = parse(definitions, SingleLineFeeder(str_expression))
print("type", type(expr))
print("expr: ", expr)

Running the above produces:

type <class 'mathics.core.expression.Expression'>
expr:  System`Plus[1, System`Times[2, System`Power[3, -1]]]

The function SingleLineFeeder should be supplied by the front-end. It reads input a line and a time and returns that back to the parser.