The History of Regular Expressions

Buzz Andersen, in a guest post for Why Is This Interesting:

Eventually, a Russian artist and Twitter user named Gregory Khodyrev realized what was going on: someone at Russia’s state Internet censor, Roscomnadzor, had attempted to block the Internet domain “” (used by Twitter’s URL shortener), but had instead managed to cut off access to any domain containing the text pattern “” This meant that sites such as “,” “,” and even Russia’s own state media outlet “” were rendered suddenly inaccessible.

Readers with a modicum of technical knowledge may already have an inkling of what likely happened here: some hapless censor, attempting to curb Twitter’s political influence, installed a URL pattern matching rule on Russia’s national firewall that turned out to have been just a tad overzealous. The rule in question was almost certainly expressed using a notoriously abstruse notation called a “regular expression.”

Monday, 26 July 2021