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Re: bin/53885 (awk ERE bug)

The following reply was made to PR bin/53885; it has been noted by GNATS.

From: Martijn Dekker <>
To:,,,, kre%munnari.OZ.AU@localhost
Subject: Re: bin/53885 (awk ERE bug)
Date: Fri, 18 Jan 2019 17:18:52 +0100

 Op 18-01-19 om 15:35 schreef
 > nawk doesn't support {} in regular expressions. e.g. this also fails:
 > echo "aaa" | nawk '/a{3}/ { print "matched" }'
 > As Kernigham notes in changing
 > this would be very difficult.
 POSIX requires that awk supports standard EREs[*1] which include bounds
 (interval expressions)[*2], and it has done for many years[*3].
 If it is true that nawk's ERE implementation is so "exceedingly
 complicated and fragile" that adding a basic and standard ERE feature
 would be too difficult, then this awk is broken by design and you should
 consider using some other awk implementation as the default awk.
 - M.
 [*2] point 5 at
 [*3] I was able to verify this back to the 2004 version, but the
 requirement may well be older. In any case 2004 is 15 years ago now.

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