# expr

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EXPR(1) General Commands Manual EXPR(1)
NAME
expr – evaluate expression
SYNOPSIS
expr expression
DESCRIPTION
The expr utility evaluates expression and writes the result on standard
output.
All operators and operands must be passed as separate arguments. Several
of the operators have special meaning to command interpreters and must
therefore be quoted appropriately. All integer operands are interpreted in
base 10 and must consist of only an optional leading minus sign followed by
one or more digits.
Arithmetic operations are performed using signed integer math with a range
according to the C intmax_t data type (the largest signed integral type
available). All conversions and operations are checked for overflow.
Overflow results in program termination with an error message on stdout and
with an error status.
Operators are listed below in order of increasing precedence; all are left-
associative. Operators with equal precedence are grouped within symbols
‘{’ and ‘}’.
expr1 | expr2
Return the evaluation of expr1 if it is neither an empty string nor
zero; otherwise, returns the evaluation of expr2 if it is not an
empty string; otherwise, returns zero.
expr1 & expr2
Return the evaluation of expr1 if neither expression evaluates to
an empty string or zero; otherwise, returns zero.
expr1 {=, >, >=, <, <=, !=} expr2
Return the results of integer comparison if both arguments are
integers; otherwise, returns the results of string comparison using
the locale-specific collation sequence. The result of each
comparison is 1 if the specified relation is true, or 0 if the
relation is false.
expr1 {+, -} expr2
Return the results of addition or subtraction of integer-valued
arguments.
expr1 {*, /, %} expr2
Return the results of multiplication, integer division, or
remainder of integer-valued arguments.
expr1 : expr2
The “:” operator matches expr1 against expr2, which must be a basic
regular expression. The regular expression is anchored to the
beginning of the string with an implicit “^”.
If the match succeeds and the pattern contains at least one regular
expression subexpression “\(...\)”, the string corresponding to
“\1” is returned; otherwise the matching operator returns the
number of characters matched. If the match fails and the pattern
contains a regular expression subexpression the null string is
returned; otherwise 0.
Parentheses are used for grouping in the usual manner.
The expr utility makes no lexical distinction between arguments which may
be operators and arguments which may be operands. An operand which is
lexically identical to an operator will be considered a syntax error. See
the examples below for a work-around.
The syntax of the expr command in general is historic and inconvenient.
New applications are advised to use shell arithmetic rather than expr.
EXIT STATUS
The expr utility exits with one of the following values:
0 the expression is neither an empty string nor 0.
1 the expression is an empty string or 0.
2 the expression is invalid.
EXAMPLES
• The following example (in sh(1) syntax) adds one to the variable a:
a=$(expr $a + 1)
• This will fail if the value of a is a negative number. To protect
negative values of a from being interpreted as options to the expr
command, one might rearrange the expression:
a=$(expr 1 + $a)
• More generally, parenthesize possibly-negative values:
a=$(expr \( $a \) + 1)
• With shell arithmetic, no escaping is required:
a=$((a + 1))
• This example prints the filename portion of a pathname stored in
variable a. Since a might represent the path /, it is necessary to
prevent it from being interpreted as the division operator. The //
characters resolve this ambiguity.
expr "//$a" : '.*/\(.*\)'
• With modern sh(1) syntax,
"${a##*/}"
expands to the same value.
The following examples output the number of characters in variable a.
Again, if a might begin with a hyphen, it is necessary to prevent it from
being interpreted as an option to expr, and a might be interpreted as an
operator.
• To deal with all of this, a complicated command is required:
expr \( "X$a" : ".*" \) - 1
• With modern sh(1) syntax, this can be done much more easily:
${#a}
expands to the required number.
SEE ALSO
sh(1), test(1)
STANDARDS
The expr utility conforms to IEEE Std 1003.1-2008 (“POSIX.1”).
The extended arithmetic range and overflow checks do not conflict with
POSIX's requirement that arithmetic be done using signed longs, since they
only make a difference to the result in cases where using signed longs
would give undefined behavior.
According to the POSIX standard, the use of string arguments length,
substr, index, or match produces undefined results. In this version of
expr, these arguments are treated just as their respective string values.
macOS 12.1 September 9, 2010 macOS 12.1
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