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The tags and are very close in meaning. Is there any difference, or should they be merged?

I see maybe a very slight nuance —  is a bit broader in coverage of language syntax, while is focused on parsing algorithms. But I'm not sure if that distinction is really meaningful, and in order to justify distinct tags, the difference in meaning has to be made clear to all.

If they're synonyms, which name should be the main tag? They have about as many uses at the moment.

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The nuance may have more to do with grammar. Parser is a noun. Parsing is a gerund (a way in english of turning a verb into either a noun or an adjective.) Parsing is the action that a parser does. We haven't been completely consistent in our choices, but we seem to use gerunds only when the real noun sounds stupid/unnatural. In this case the real noun doesn't sound stupid, so I vote we go with parser.

Examples:

  • optimization (not optimizing)
  • compilers (not compiling)
  • computer-networks (not computer-networking)
  • search-algorithms, search-trees, search-problem (not searching or searching-*)
  • runtime-analysis (not runtime-analyzing or analyzing-runtime)
  • proof-techniques (not proving)
  • graph-theory (not graph-theorizing)
  • reductions (not reducing)
  • cpu-cache (not caching)

But

  • sorting (not sort-algorithms, sort-problem)
  • machine-learning (not machine-learner or machine-knowledge)
  • dynamic-programming (not dynamic-programs)
  • functional-programming (not functional-program)
  • parallel-computing (not parallel-computer)
  • image-processing (not image-process)
  • natural-language-processing (not natural-language)

So learning, programming and processing are the main places we use gerunds.

Edit (4 months later)

Here's another piece of evidence that and are really tag-synonyms that are being chosen randomly by question askers. If you go to each tag page you will see "related tags" on the right hand side. This is the other tags that are paired with the tag in question most often. The related tags for these tags are similar:

(53 questions) related tags:

(46 questions) related tags:

It doesn't get much more similar than that.

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    $\begingroup$ Note that @raphael just pointed out in Computer Science Chat that we tend to use plurals. So parsers rather than parser. $\endgroup$ – Wandering Logic May 21 '14 at 18:59
  • $\begingroup$ Since nobody spoke against after all this time, I mod-approved the synonym. $\endgroup$ – Raphael Dec 7 '14 at 15:45

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