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parse
Last modified: Tuesday, November 25, 1997 

In linguistics, to divide language into small components that can be analyzed. For example, parsing this sentence would involve dividing it into words and phrases and identifying the type of each component (e.g., verb, adjective, or noun).

Parsing is a very important part of many computer science disciplines. For example, compilers must parse source code to be able to translate it into object code. Likewise, any application that processes complex commands must be able to parse the commands. This includes virtually all end-user applications.

Parsing is often divided into lexical analysis and semantic parsing. Lexical analysis concentrates on dividing strings into components, called tokens, based on punctuation and other keys. Semantic parsing then attempts to determine the meaning of the string.

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