The following sections describe two syntaxes for use with the SNOMED CT Expression Constraint Language. These syntaxes are serialised representations of the logical model presented in the previous chapter, and are therefore logically equivalent.

The first of these syntaxes is referred to as the 'brief syntax' as it primarily uses a symbolic representation aimed to be as compact as possible. This syntax is considered to be the normative syntax, and is recommended for use in interoperable communications between systems.

The second syntax is referred to as the 'long syntax'. The long syntax introduces English-based textual alternatives to the symbols defined in the 'brief syntax', with the aim of increasing the human readability of the language. The textual alternatives provided in the 'long syntax' may (in theory) be translated into other languages to provide equivalent expression constraint representations that are human-readable by non-English speakers. Please note that the 'long syntax' (and any translations) is non-normative, and should only be used when a reliable mapping to the normative brief syntax is possible.

Please note that by default each expression constraint is evaluated against only the active components (and active members of each reference set) from the snapshot release (in distribution normal form) of a specified SNOMED CT versioned edition.