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Formal language facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts

In mathematics, computer science and linguistics, a formal language is one that has a particular set of symbols, and whose expressions are made according to a particular set of rules. The symbol \mathcal{L} is often used as a variable for formal languages in logic.

Unlike natural languages, the symbols and formulas in formal languages are syntactically and semantically related to one another in a precise way. As a result, formal languages are completely (or almost completely) void of ambiguity.

Examples

Some examples of formal languages include:

  • The set of all words over {a, b}\,
  • The set \left \{ a^{n}\right\}, where n\, is a natural number and a^n\, means a\, repeated n times
  • Finite languages, such as \{\{a,b\},\{a, aa, bba\}\}\,
  • The set of syntactically correct programs in a given programming language
  • The set of inputs upon which a certain Turing machine halts

Specification

A formal language can be specified in a great variety of ways, such as:

Related pages

, chapter 6 Algebra of formalized languages.

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