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The Java® Language Specification, Java SE 7 Edition, Fourth Edition by Alex Buckley, Gilad Bracha, Guy Steele, Bill Joy, James Gosling

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2.1. Context-Free Grammars

A context-free grammar consists of a number of productions. Each production has an abstract symbol called a nonterminal as its left-hand side, and a sequence of one or more nonterminal and terminal symbols as its right-hand side. For each grammar, the terminal symbols are drawn from a specified alphabet.

Starting from a sentence consisting of a single distinguished nonterminal, called the goal symbol, a given context-free grammar specifies a language, namely, the set of possible sequences of terminal symbols that can result from repeatedly replacing any nonterminal in the sequence with a right-hand side of a production for which the nonterminal is the left-hand side.

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