Complexity of Parsing
Parsing algorithms that work for any unambiguous grammar are complicated and inefficient. In fact, the complexity of such algorithms is O(n3), which means the amount of time they take is on the order of the cube of the length of the string to be parsed. This relatively large amount of time is required because these algorithms frequently must back up and reparse part of the sentence being analyzed. Reparsing is required when the parser has made a mistake in the parsing process.
Backing up the parser also requires that part of the parse tree being constructed (or its trace) must be dismantled and rebuilt. O(n3) algorithms are normally not useful for practical processes, such as syntax analysis for a compiler, because they are far too slow. In situations such as this, computer scientists often search for algorithms that are faster, though less general.
Generality is traded for efficiency. In terms of parsing, faster algorithms have been found that work for only a subset of the set of all possible grammars. These algorithms are acceptable as long as the subset includes grammars that describe programming languages.
All algorithms used for the syntax analyzers of commercial compilers have complexity O(n), which means the time they take is linearly related to the length of the string to be parsed. This is vastly more efficient than O(n3) algorithms.