Shell scripting: Arithmetic using expr, bc and dc tools


You will definitely need to do some math sometime or the other on the shell. As always ‘expr’ was the most popular thing out there to do complicated mathematical expressions. I was looking at some other options as well when I came across the bc and dc tools. I will explain each one of them in this post.

expr

This is by far the most famous for doing some math on the bash shell. There are two kinds mainly. One on string expressions and then the usual numericals. I would be writing about the later.

expr 40 % 5
0
expr 40 / 5
8
expr 40 / 5 / 8
1
expr 40 / 5 / 8 + 1
2
expr 40 / 5 / 8 + 1 * 10
expr: syntax error

Of course, while doing multiplication you need to use the escaped character ‘\’ backslash. And thus,

expr 40 / 5 / 8 + 1 \* 10
11

The brackets, division, multiplication, addition and subtraction rules also govern here. Now lets look at the others.

bc

This is a language bc that supports arbitrary precision numbers with interactive execution of statements. It starts by processing code from all the files listed on the command line in the order listed. Now a neat way to calculate stuff is:

echo 2*30/3 | bc
20
echo "20 + 5 * 3" | bc
35

Again this follows the basic BODMAS rules.

dc

Stands for desk calculator. Its an interactive calculator on the shell. It supports the basic arithmetic and uses the standard + – / * symbols but entered after the digits. Once you enter the symbol, get the calculated output by passing ‘p’ similar to our ‘=’ symbol on the calculator. And you can keep going.

dc
98
9
*
p
882
10
/
p
88

If I find more useful tools, I’ll update this post. If you have better ideas to implement this, feel free to suggest!

Advertisements
Shell scripting: Arithmetic using expr, bc and dc tools

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s