I've read up on Finite State Automata in a lot of different books on compiler construction (two of which are actually called Compiler Construction) and I'm kind of at a loss. I understand the idea of moving from state to state and having a state that is accepted. What I don't understand is why in the world this theory is regurgitated in such an obscenely convoluted way?
If you were to tell me that the point of FSA within a compiler is for Lexical Analysis and that its purpose therein is just to go character by character and determine whether or not a word is an identifier, keyword, or other token, I would be completely confident in my understanding. Problem is that in every chapter of finite state automata I have to go over 50 pages of rigorous notation, differences between non-deterministic and deterministic finite state automata (including separate notation where Epsilon is three different things based on its styling) and a dozen or more of these graphs:
My question is this: Do I need to understand more than this to write a Compiler? Is there something unique about FSA that I'm just completely missing? Or is this just an over complication of a simple concept in regards to creating a compiler?