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No, this is not a typo of the word "sparse." The word "parse" means to analyze an object specifically. It is commonly used in computer science to refer to reading program code. For example, after a program is written, whether it be in C++, Java, or any other language, the code needs to be parsed by the compiler in order to be compiled. Web scripts, written in scripting languages such as Perl or PHP, need to be parsed on the Web server so that they can output the correct HTML to a user's browser.

Parsing can also refer to breaking up ordinary text. For example, search engines typically parse search phrases entered by users so that they can more accurately search for each word. Some programs can parse text documents and extract certain information like names or addresses. Spreadsheet programs can turn formatted documents into tables with rows and columns by parsing the text. As you can see, the ways to parse are clearly not sparse.

Updated: December 2, 2008

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