Re: BNF name

Wally Anderson <>
Wed, 30 Jun 1993 16:27:27 GMT

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Newsgroups: comp.compilers
From: Wally Anderson <>
Keywords: parse, EBNF
Organization: Texas Instruments
References: 93-06-063 93-06-076
Date: Wed, 30 Jun 1993 16:27:27 GMT

>As someone who came in late (circa 1973) I am a little puzzled by the
>above. Did BNF originally stand for "Backus Normal Form".

The Dragon book (Aho, Sethi, Ullman - 1986), at the end of Chapter 2:

"The proposal that BNF, which began as an abbreviation of BacKus Normal
Form, be read as Backus-Naur Form, to recognize Naur's contributions
as editor of the Algol 60 report (Naur 1963), is contained in a letter
by Knuth [1964]."

The full citation for Knuth [1964] is:

Knuth, D.E. "Backus Normal Form vs. Backus Naur Form," Comm. ACM 7:12,

Wally Anderson

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