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What is Handle Pruning?

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  • Difficulty Level : Easy
  • Last Updated : 18 Jan, 2022

The handle is the substring that matches the body of a production whose reduction represents one step along with the reverse of a Rightmost derivation.

The handle of the right sequential form Y is the production of Y where the string S may be found and replaced by A to produce the previous right sequential form in RMD(Right Most Derivation) of Y.

Sentential form: S => a here, ‘a’ is called sentential form, ‘a’ can be a mix of terminals and nonterminals.


Consider Grammar : S -> aSa | bSb | ε
Derivation:              S => aSa => abSba => abbSbba => abbbba

Left Sentential and Right Sentential Form:

  • A left-sentential form is a sentential form that occurs in the leftmost derivation of some sentence.
  • A right-sentential form is a sentential form that occurs in the rightmost derivation of some sentence.

Handle contains two things:

  • Production
  • Position


S -> aABe
A -> Abc | b
B -> d


abbcde : γ = abbcde , A->b; Handle = b
aAbcde : γ = RHS = aAbcde , A->Abc; Handle = Abc
aAde : γ = aAde , B->d; Handle = d
aABe : γ = aABe, S-> aABe; Handle = aABe

Note- Handles are underlined in the right-sentential forms.

Is the leftmost substring always handled?

No, choosing the leftmost substring as the handle always, may not give correct SR(Shift-Reduce) Parsing.

Handle Pruning:

Removing the children of the left-hand side non-terminal from the parse tree is called Handle Pruning

A rightmost derivation in reverse can be obtained by handle pruning.

Steps to Follow:

  • Start with a string of terminals ‘w’ that is to be parsed.
  • Let w = γn, where γn is the nth right sequential form of an unknown RMD.
  • To reconstruct the RMD in reverse, locate handle βn in γn. Replace βn with LHS of some An ⇢ βn to get (n-1)th RSF γn-1. Repeat.

Example 1:

Right Sequential FormHandleReducing Production
id + id * ididE ⇒ id
E + id * ididE ⇒ id
E + E * ididE ⇒ id
E + E * EE + EE ⇒ E + E
E * EE * EE ⇒ E * E
E (Root)  

Example 2:

Right Sequential FormHandleProduction
id + id + ididE ⇒ id
E + id + ididE ⇒ id
E + E + ididE ⇒ id
E + E + EE + EE ⇒ E + E
E + EE + EE ⇒ E + E
E (Root)  
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