# Compilers: how to find first and follow sets?

I sort of know how to solve the problem but I am not sure how to do it in a systematic way. Could someone provide a step-by-step solution especially for the follow set one? Thanks! • Perhaps this will help: stackoverflow.com/a/29200860/1566221 – rici Feb 22 at 19:49
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To find the follow of S, I feel that it would be helpful to calculate all the firsts of all the variables as it helps a lot. First, let us see all the rules to find the first as they will be helpful.

1. For terminal a, First(a) = {a}.
2. For production A -> a, add 'a' to First(A).
3. For production A -> 𝜀, add '𝜀' to First(A).
4. For production A -> BCD, add First(B) to First(A).
5. For production A -> BCD and 𝜀 ∊ First(B), add First(CD) to First(A).


It would be easier for me to explain if we number all the productions, so we number the productions as follows:

1. S -> A(S)B
2. S -> 𝜀
3. A -> S
4. A -> SB
5. A -> x
6. A -> 𝜀
7. B -> SB
8. B -> y


Now as it is a recursive function, it would be better if we go in cycles to find the answer until we find a cycle in which the answer hasn't changed.

Firstly, find first using all the productions which start with a terminal, i.e. productions 2, 5, 6, 8.

Round 1

First(S) : {𝜀}, First(A) : {x, 𝜀}, First(B) : {y}


From production 1, First(A) ∊ First(S), therefore add it. Also, as 𝜀 ∊ First(A), add ( to First(S).

From production 3, First(S) ∊ First(A), therefore add it. Also from production 4, as 𝜀 ∊ First(S), add First(B) to First(A).

From production 7, First(S) ∊ First(B), therefore add it.

Round 2

First(S) : {𝜀, x, (}, First(A) : {x, 𝜀, (, y}, First(B) : {y, x, 𝜀, (}


Add all the steps performed in round 2, again in round 3.

Round 3

First(S) : {𝜀, x, (, y}, First(A) : {x, 𝜀, (, y}, First(B) : {y, x, 𝜀, (}


This is the final outcome. After this, if you perform the steps again, you will get the same values of First.

Now we will find follow. First, let us understand the rules of follow as it will be helpful.

1. For start symbol S, add $to follow(S). 2. For production A -> BC, add follow(A) to follow(C). 3. For production A -> Bb, add b to follow(B). 4. For production A -> BCD, add first(CD) to follow(B).  Also, we don't add 𝜀 in the follow. As S is the start symbol, add$ to Follow(S)(rule 1).

To find other elements of Follow(S), find all the productions where S is in RHS. Here they are 1, 3, 4, 7.

Follow(S) = {$$, )}, Follow(A): {(}, Follow(B): {$$, )}



From production 3, add Follow(A) to Follow(S)(rule 2).

Follow(S) = {$, ), (}, Follow(A): {(}, Follow(B): {$, )}


From production 4, add Follow(A) to Follow(B)(rule 2) and add First(B) to Follow(S)(Rule 4)

Follow(S) = {$$, ), (, x, y}, Follow(A): {(}, Follow(B): {$$, ), (}



From production 1 again, add Follow(S) to Follow(B)(rule 2)

Follow(S) = {$, ), (, x, y}, Follow(A): {(}, Follow(B): {$, ), (, x, y}


Now we have found first and follow of all the variables. The actual solution might not be this big. I have tried to explain everything so it's a bit bigger. Hope you liked and understood the solution.