PHP also supports regular expressions using a Perl-compatible syntax using the PCRE functions. Those functions support non-greedy matching, assertions, conditional subpatterns, and a number of other features not supported by the POSIX-extended regular expression syntax.
These regular expression functions are not binary-safe. The PCRE functions are.
Regular expressions are used for complex string manipulation. PHP uses the POSIX extended regular expressions as defined by POSIX 1003.2. For a full description of POSIX regular expressions see the » regex man pages included in the regex directory in the PHP distribution. It's in manpage format, so you'll want to do something along the lines of man /usr/local/src/regex/regex.7 in order to read it.