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parse(1) To analyze a sentence or language statement. Parsing breaks down words into functional units that can be converted into machine language. For example, to parse the expression sum salary for title = "MANAGER" the word SUM must be identified as the primary command, FOR as a conditional search, TITLE as a field name and MANAGER as the data to be searched.
Parsing breaks down a natural language request, such as "What's the total of all the managers' salaries" into the commands required by a high-level language, such as in the example above. See name parsing.
(2) To convert from one format to another. The term is often used as a substitute for the word "convert" when continuous strings of text are scanned to find embedded format codes that must be changed. In contrast, when data are moved or copied from one relational database to another, that is generally known as database "conversion," because the field locations in a database record are easily identified and generally do not have to be searched (scanned) to be found.