Regex expressions in Java \s vs. \s+

By | July 10, 2019

Question

Please, what’s the difference between those expressions

x = x.replaceAll("\s", "");
x = x.replaceAll("\s+", "");

Solution

The first one matches a single whitespace, whereas the second one matches one or many whitespaces. They’re the so-called regular expression quantifiers, and they perform matches like this (taken from the documentation):

Greedy quantifiers
X?  X, once or not at all
X*  X, zero or more times
X+  X, one or more times
X{n}    X, exactly n times
X{n,}   X, at least n times
X{n,m}  X, at least n but not more than m times

Reluctant quantifiers
X?? X, once or not at all
X*? X, zero or more times
X+? X, one or more times
X{n}?   X, exactly n times
X{n,}?  X, at least n times
X{n,m}? X, at least n but not more than m times

Possessive quantifiers
X?+ X, once or not at all
X*+ X, zero or more times
X++ X, one or more times
X{n}+   X, exactly n times
X{n,}+  X, at least n times
X{n,m}+ X, at least n but not more than m times

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