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35.3.5 Problems with Regular Expressions

The Emacs regexp implementation, like many of its kind, is generally robust but occasionally causes trouble in either of two ways: matching may run out of internal stack space and signal an error, and it can take a long time to complete. The advice below will make these symptoms less likely and help alleviate problems that do arise.

If you run into regexp stack overflow despite following the above advice, don’t be afraid of performing the matching in multiple function calls, each using a simpler regexp where backtracking can more easily be contained.

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