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 bc(1)                           GNU Project                           bc(1)

      bc - An arbitrary precision calculator language

      bc [ -hlwsqv ] [long-options] [  file ... ]

      bc is a language that supports arbitrary precision numbers with
      interactive execution of statements.  There are some similarities in
      the syntax to the C programming language. A standard math library is
      available by command line option.  If requested, the math library is
      defined before processing any files.  bc starts by processing code
      from all the files listed on the command line in the order listed.
      After all files have been processed, bc reads from the standard input.
      All code is executed as it is read.  (If a file contains a command to
      halt the processor, bc will never read from the standard input.)

      This version of bc contains several extensions beyond traditional bc
      implementations and the POSIX draft standard.  Command line options
      can cause these extensions to print a warning or to be rejected.  This
      document describes the language accepted by this processor.
      Extensions will be identified as such.

      -h, --help
           Print the usage and exit.

      -i, --interactive
           Force interactive mode.

      -l, --mathlib
           Define the standard math library.

      -w, --warn
           Give warnings for extensions to POSIX bc.

      -s, --standard
           Process exactly the POSIX bc language.

      -q, --quiet
           Do not print the normal GNU bc welcome.

      -v, --version
           Print the version number and copyright and quit.

      The most basic element in bc is the number.  Numbers are arbitrary
      precision numbers.  This precision is both in the integer part and the
      fractional part.  All numbers are represented internally in decimal
      and all computation is done in decimal.  (This version truncates
      results from divide and multiply operations.)  There are two

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 bc(1)                           GNU Project                           bc(1)

      attributes of numbers, the length and the scale.  The length is the
      total number of decimal digits used by bc to represent a number and
      the scale is the total number of decimal digits after the decimal
      point.  For example:
            .000001 has a length of 6 and scale of 6.
            1935.000 has a length of 7 and a scale of 3.

      Numbers are stored in two types of variables, simple variables and
      arrays.  Both simple variables and array variables are named.  Names
      begin with a letter followed by any number of letters, digits and
      underscores.  All letters must be lower case.  (Full alpha-numeric
      names are an extension. In POSIX bc all names are a single lower case
      letter.)  The type of variable is clear by the context because all
      array variable names will be followed by brackets ([]).

      There are four special variables, scale, ibase, obase, and last.
      scale defines how some operations use digits after the decimal point.
      The default value of scale is 0. ibase and obase define the conversion
      base for input and output numbers.  The default for both input and
      output is base 10.  last (an extension) is a variable that has the
      value of the last printed number.  These will be discussed in further
      detail where appropriate.  All of these variables may have values
      assigned to them as well as used in expressions.

      Comments in bc start with the characters /* and end with the
      characters */.  Comments may start anywhere and appear as a single
      space in the input.  (This causes comments to delimit other input
      items.  For example, a comment can not be found in the middle of a
      variable name.)  Comments include any newlines (end of line) between
      the start and the end of the comment.

      To support the use of scripts for bc, a single line comment has been
      added as an extension.  A single line comment starts at a # character
      and continues to the next end of the line.  The end of line character
      is not part of the comment and is processed normally.

      The numbers are manipulated by expressions and statements.  Since the
      language was designed to be interactive, statements and expressions
      are executed as soon as possible.  There is no "main" program.
      Instead, code is executed as it is encountered.  (Functions, discussed
      in detail later, are defined when encountered.)

      A simple expression is just a constant. bc converts constants into
      internal decimal numbers using the current input base, specified by
      the variable ibase. (There is an exception in functions.) The legal
      values of ibase are 2 through 36. (Bases greater than 16 are an
      extension.) Assigning a value outside this range to ibase will result
      in a value of 2 or 36.  Input numbers may contain the characters 0-9

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 bc(1)                           GNU Project                           bc(1)

      and A-Z. (Note: They must be capitals.  Lower case letters are
      variable names.)  Single digit numbers always have the value of the
      digit regardless of the value of ibase. (i.e. A = 10.)  For multi-
      digit numbers, bc changes all input digits greater or equal to ibase
      to the value of ibase-1.  This makes the number ZZZ always be the
      largest 3 digit number of the input base.

      Full expressions are similar to many other high level languages.
      Since there is only one kind of number, there are no rules for mixing
      types.  Instead, there are rules on the scale of expressions.  Every
      expression has a scale.  This is derived from the scale of original
      numbers, the operation performed and in many cases, the value of the
      variable scale. Legal values of the variable scale are 0 to the
      maximum number representable by a C integer.

      In the following descriptions of legal expressions, "expr" refers to a
      complete expression and "var" refers to a simple or an array variable.
      A simple variable is just a
      and an array variable is specified as
      Unless specifically mentioned the scale of the result is the maximum
      scale of the expressions involved.

      - expr
           The result is the negation of the expression.

      ++ var
           The variable is incremented by one and the new value is the
           result of the expression.

      -- var
           The variable is decremented by one and the new value is the
           result of the expression.

      var ++
            The result of the expression is the value of the variable and
           then the variable is incremented by one.

      var --
           The result of the expression is the value of the variable and
           then the variable is decremented by one.

      expr + expr
           The result of the expression is the sum of the two expressions.

      expr - expr
           The result of the expression is the difference of the two

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 bc(1)                           GNU Project                           bc(1)

      expr * expr
           The result of the expression is the product of the two

      expr / expr
           The result of the expression is the quotient of the two
           expressions.  The scale of the result is the value of the
           variable scale.

      expr % expr
           The result of the expression is the "remainder" and it is
           computed in the following way.  To compute a%b, first a/b is
           computed to scale digits.  That result is used to compute a-
           (a/b)*b to the scale of the maximum of scale+scale(b) and
           scale(a).  If scale is set to zero and both expressions are
           integers this expression is the integer remainder function.

      expr ^ expr
           The result of the expression is the value of the first raised to
           the second. The second expression must be an integer.  (If the
           second expression is not an integer, a warning is generated and
           the expression is truncated to get an integer value.)  The scale
           of the result is scale if the exponent is negative.  If the
           exponent is positive the scale of the result is the minimum of
           the scale of the first expression times the value of the exponent
           and the maximum of scale and the scale of the first expression.
           (e.g. scale(a^b) = min(scale(a)*b, max( scale, scale(a))).)  It
           should be noted that expr^0 will always return the value of 1.

      ( expr )
           This alters the standard precedence to force the evaluation of
           the expression.

      var = expr
           The variable is assigned the value of the expression.

      var <op>= expr
           This is equivalent to "var = var <op> expr" with the exception
           that the "var" part is evaluated only once.  This can make a
           difference if "var" is an array.

      Relational expressions are a special kind of expression that always
      evaluate to 0 or 1, 0 if the relation is false and 1 if the relation
      is true.  These may appear in any legal expression.  (POSIX bc
      requires that relational expressions are used only in if, while, and
      for statements and that only one relational test may be done in them.)
      The relational operators are

      expr1 < expr2
           The result is 1 if expr1 is strictly less than expr2.

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 bc(1)                           GNU Project                           bc(1)

      expr1 <= expr2
           The result is 1 if expr1 is less than or equal to expr2.

      expr1 > expr2
           The result is 1 if expr1 is strictly greater than expr2.

      expr1 >= expr2
           The result is 1 if expr1 is greater than or equal to expr2.

      expr1 == expr2
           The result is 1 if expr1 is equal to expr2.

      expr1 != expr2
           The result is 1 if expr1 is not equal to expr2.

      Boolean operations are also legal.  (POSIX bc does NOT have boolean
      operations). The result of all boolean operations are 0 and 1 (for
      false and true) as in relational expressions.  The boolean operators

           The result is 1 if expr is 0.

      expr && expr
           The result is 1 if both expressions are non-zero.

      expr || expr
           The result is 1 if either expression is non-zero.

      The expression precedence is as follows: (lowest to highest)
           || operator, left associative
           && operator, left associative
           ! operator, nonassociative
           Relational operators, left associative
           Assignment operator, right associative
           + and - operators, left associative
           *, / and % operators, left associative
           ^ operator, right associative
           unary - operator, nonassociative
           ++ and -- operators, nonassociative

      This precedence was chosen so that POSIX compliant bc programs will
      run correctly. This will cause the use of the relational and logical
      operators to have some unusual behavior when used with assignment
      expressions.  Consider the expression:
           a = 3 < 5

      Most C programmers would assume this would assign the result of "3 <
      5" (the value 1) to the variable "a".  What this does in bc is assign
      the value 3 to the variable "a" and then compare 3 to 5.  It is best
      to use parenthesis when using relational and logical operators with

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 bc(1)                           GNU Project                           bc(1)

      the assignment operators.

      There are a few more special expressions that are provided in bc.
      These have to do with user defined functions and standard functions.
      They all appear as "name(parameters)".  See the section on functions
      for user defined functions.  The standard functions are:

      length ( expression )
           The value of the length function is the number of significant
           digits in the expression.

      read ( )
           The read function (an extension) will read a number from the
           standard input, regardless of where the function occurs.
           Beware, this can cause problems with the mixing of data and
           program in the standard input.  The best use for this function is
           in a previously written program that needs input from the user,
           but never allows program code to be input from the user.  The
           value of the read function is the number read from the standard
           input using the current value of the variable ibase for the
           conversion base.

      scale ( expression )
           The value of the scale function is the number of digits after the
           decimal point in the expression.

      sqrt ( expression )
           The value of the sqrt function is the square root of the
           expression.  If the expression is negative, a run time error is

      Statements (as in most algebraic languages) provide the sequencing of
      expression evaluation.  In bc statements are executed "as soon as
      possible."  Execution happens when a newline in encountered and there
      is one or more complete statements.  Due to this immediate execution,
      newlines are very important in bc. In fact, both a semicolon and a
      newline are used as statement separators.  An improperly placed
      newline will cause a syntax error.  Because newlines are statement
      separators, it is possible to hide a newline by using the backslash
      character.  The sequence "\<nl>", where <nl> is the newline appears to
      bc as whitespace instead of a newline.  A statement list is a series
      of statements separated by semicolons and newlines.  The following is
      a list of bc statements and what they do: (Things enclosed in brackets
      ([]) are optional parts of the statement.)

           This statement does one of two things.  If the expression starts
           with "<variable> <assignment> ...", it is considered to be an
           assignment statement.  If the expression is not an assignment
           statement, the expression is evaluated and printed to the output.

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 bc(1)                           GNU Project                           bc(1)

           After the number is printed, a newline is printed.  For example,
           "a=1" is an assignment statement and "(a=1)" is an expression
           that has an embedded assignment.  All numbers that are printed
           are printed in the base specified by the variable obase. The
           legal values for obase are 2 through BC_BASE_MAX.  (See the
           section LIMITS.)  For bases 2 through 16, the usual method of
           writing numbers is used.  For bases greater than 16, bc uses a
           multi-character digit method of printing the numbers where each
           higher base digit is printed as a base 10 number.  The multi-
           character digits are separated by spaces.  Each digit contains
           the number of characters required to represent the base ten value
           of "obase-1".  Since numbers are of arbitrary precision, some
           numbers may not be printable on a single output line.  These long
           numbers will be split across lines using the "\" as the last
           character on a line.  The maximum number of characters printed
           per line is 70.  Due to the interactive nature of bc, printing a
           number causes the side effect of assigning the printed value to
           the special variable last. This allows the user to recover the
           last value printed without having to retype the expression that
           printed the number.  Assigning to last is legal and will
           overwrite the last printed value with the assigned value.  The
           newly assigned value will remain until the next number is printed
           or another value is assigned to last.  (Some installations may
           allow the use of a single period (.) which is not part of a
           number as a short hand notation for for last.)

           The string is printed to the output.  Strings start with a double
           quote character and contain all characters until the next double
           quote character.  All characters are take literally, including
           any newline.  No newline character is printed after the string.

      print list
           The print statement (an extension) provides another method of
           output.  The "list" is a list of strings and expressions
           separated by commas.  Each string or expression is printed in the
           order of the list.  No terminating newline is printed.
           Expressions are evaluated and their value is printed and assigned
           to the variable last. Strings in the print statement are printed
           to the output and may contain special characters.  Special
           characters start with the backslash character (\).  The special
           characters recognized by bc are "a" (alert or bell), "b"
           (backspace), "f" (form feed), "n" (newline), "r" (carriage
           return), "q" (double quote), "t" (tab), and "\" (backslash).  Any
           other character following the backslash will be ignored.

      { statement_list }
           This is the compound statement.  It allows multiple statements to
           be grouped together for execution.

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 bc(1)                           GNU Project                           bc(1)

      if ( expression ) statement1 [else statement2]
           The if statement evaluates the expression and executes statement1
           or statement2 depending on the value of the expression.  If the
           expression is non-zero, statement1 is executed.  If statement2 is
           present and the value of the expression is 0, then statement2 is
           executed.  (The else clause is an extension.)

      while ( expression ) statement
           The while statement will execute the statement while the
           expression is non-zero.  It evaluates the expression before each
           execution of the statement.   Termination of the loop is caused
           by a zero expression value or the execution of a break statement.

      for ( [expression1] ; [expression2] ; [expression3] ) statement
           The for statement controls repeated execution of the statement.
           Expression1 is evaluated before the loop.  Expression2 is
           evaluated before each execution of the statement.  If it is non-
           zero, the statement is evaluated.  If it is zero, the loop is
           terminated.  After each execution of the statement, expression3
           is evaluated before the reevaluation of expression2.  If
           expression1 or expression3 are missing, nothing is evaluated at
           the point they would be evaluated.  If expression2 is missing, it
           is the same as substituting the value 1 for expression2.  (The
           optional expressions are an extension. POSIX bc requires all
           three expressions.) The following is equivalent code for the for
           while (expression2) {

           This statement causes a forced exit of the most recent enclosing
           while statement or for statement.

           The continue statement (an extension)  causes the most recent
           enclosing for statement to start the next iteration.

      halt The halt statement (an extension) is an executed statement that
           causes the bc processor to quit only when it is executed.  For
           example, "if (0 == 1) halt" will not cause bc to terminate
           because the halt is not executed.

           Return the value 0 from a function.  (See the section on

      return ( expression )
           Return the value of the expression from a function.  (See the

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 bc(1)                           GNU Project                           bc(1)

           section on functions.)  As an extension, the parenthesis are not

      These statements are not statements in the traditional sense.  They
      are not executed statements.  Their function is performed at "compile"

           Print the local limits enforced by the local version of bc.  This
           is an extension.

      quit When the quit statement is read, the bc processor is terminated,
           regardless of where the quit statement is found.  For example,
           "if (0 == 1) quit" will cause bc to terminate.

           Print a longer warranty notice.  This is an extension.

      Functions provide a method of defining a computation that can be
      executed later.  Functions in bc always compute a value and return it
      to the caller.  Function definitions are "dynamic" in the sense that a
      function is undefined until a definition is encountered in the input.
      That definition is then used until another definition function for the
      same name is encountered.  The new definition then replaces the older
      definition.  A function is defined as follows:
           define name ( parameters ) { newline
               auto_list   statement_list }
      A function call is just an expression of the form "name(parameters)".

      Parameters are numbers or arrays (an extension).  In the function
      definition, zero or more parameters are defined by listing their names
      separated by commas.  All parameters are call by value parameters.
      Arrays are specified in the parameter definition by the notation
      "name[]".   In the function call, actual parameters are full
      expressions for number parameters.  The same notation is used for
      passing arrays as for defining array parameters.  The named array is
      passed by value to the function.  Since function definitions are
      dynamic, parameter numbers and types are checked when a function is
      called.  Any mismatch in number or types of parameters will cause a
      runtime error.  A runtime error will also occur for the call to an
      undefined function.

      The auto_list is an optional list of variables that are for "local"
      use.  The syntax of the auto list (if present) is "auto name, ... ;".
      (The semicolon is optional.)  Each name is the name of an auto
      variable.  Arrays may be specified by using the same notation as used
      in parameters.  These variables have their values pushed onto a stack
      at the start of the function.  The variables are then initialized to
      zero and used throughout the execution of the function.  At function

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 bc(1)                           GNU Project                           bc(1)

      exit, these variables are popped so that the original value (at the
      time of the function call) of these variables are restored.  The
      parameters are really auto variables that are initialized to a value
      provided in the function call.  Auto variables are different than
      traditional local variables because if function A calls function B, B
      may access function A's auto variables by just using the same name,
      unless function B has called them auto variables.  Due to the fact
      that auto variables and parameters are pushed onto a stack, bc
      supports recursive functions.

      The function body is a list of bc statements.  Again, statements are
      separated by semicolons or newlines.  Return statements cause the
      termination of a function and the return of a value.  There are two
      versions of the return statement.  The first form, "return", returns
      the value 0 to the calling expression.  The second form, "return (
      expression )", computes the value of the expression and returns that
      value to the calling expression.  There is an implied "return (0)" at
      the end of every function.  This allows a function to terminate and
      return 0 without an explicit return statement.

      Functions also change the usage of the variable ibase.  All constants
      in the function body will be converted using the value of ibase at the
      time of the function call.  Changes of ibase will be ignored during
      the execution of the function except for the standard function read,
      which will always use the current value of ibase for conversion of

      Several extensions have been added to functions.  First, the format of
      the definition has been slightly relaxed.  The standard requires the
      opening brace be on the same line as the define keyword and all other
      parts must be on following lines.  This version of bc will allow any
      number of newlines before and after the opening brace of the function.
      For example, the following definitions are legal.

           define d (n) { return (2*n); }
           define d (n)
             { return (2*n); }

      Functions may be defined as void.  A void funtion returns no value and
      thus may not be used in any place that needs a value.  A void function
      does not produce any output when called by itself on an input line.
      The key word void is placed between the key word define and the
      function name.  For example, consider the following session.

           define py (y) { print "--->", y, "<---", "\n"; }
           define void px (x) { print "--->", x, "<---", "\n"; }

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 bc(1)                           GNU Project                           bc(1)


      Since py is not a void function, the call of py(1) prints the desired
      output and then prints a second line that is the value of the
      function.  Since the value of a function that is not given an explicit
      return statement is zero, the zero is printed.  For px(1), no zero is
      printed because the function is a void function.

      Also, call by variable for arrays was added.  To declare a call by
      variable array, the declaration of the array parameter in the function
      definition looks like "*name[]".  The call to the function remains the
      same as call by value arrays.

      If bc is invoked with the -l option, a math library is preloaded and
      the default scale is set to 20.   The math functions will calculate
      their results to the scale set at the time of their call. The math
      library defines the following functions:

      s (x)
           The sine of x, x is in radians.

      c (x)
           The cosine of x, x is in radians.

      a (x)
           The arctangent of x, arctangent returns radians.

      l (x)
           The natural logarithm of x.

      e (x)
           The exponential function of raising e to the value x.

      j (n,x)
           The Bessel function of integer order n of x.

      In /bin/sh,  the following will assign the value of "pi" to the shell
      variable pi.

           pi=$(echo "scale=10; 4*a(1)" | bc -l)

      The following is the definition of the exponential function used in
      the math library.  This function is written in POSIX bc.

           scale = 20

           /* Uses the fact that e^x = (e^(x/2))^2
              When x is small enough, we use the series:

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 bc(1)                           GNU Project                           bc(1)

                e^x = 1 + x + x^2/2! + x^3/3! + ...

           define e(x) {
             auto  a, d, e, f, i, m, v, z

             /* Check the sign of x. */
             if (x<0) {
               m = 1
               x = -x

             /* Precondition x. */
             z = scale;
             scale = 4 + z + .44*x;
             while (x > 1) {
               f += 1;
               x /= 2;

             /* Initialize the variables. */
             v = 1+x
             a = x
             d = 1

             for (i=2; 1; i++) {
               e = (a *= x) / (d *= i)
               if (e == 0) {
                 if (f>0) while (f--)  v = v*v;
                 scale = z
                 if (m) return (1/v);
                 return (v/1);
               v += e

      The following is code that uses the extended features of bc to
      implement a simple program for calculating checkbook balances.  This
      program is best kept in a file so that it can be used many times
      without having to retype it at every use.

           print "\nCheck book program!\n"
           print "  Remember, deposits are negative transactions.\n"
           print "  Exit by a 0 transaction.\n\n"

           print "Initial balance? "; bal = read()
           bal /= 1
           print "\n"

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 bc(1)                           GNU Project                           bc(1)

           while (1) {
             "current balance = "; bal
             "transaction? "; trans = read()
             if (trans == 0) break;
             bal -= trans
             bal /= 1

      The following is the definition of the recursive factorial function.

           define f (x) {
             if (x <= 1) return (1);
             return (f(x-1) * x);

      GNU bc can be compiled (via a configure option) to use the GNU
      readline input editor library or the BSD libedit library.  This allows
      the user to do editing of lines before sending them to bc.  It also
      allows for a history of previous lines typed.  When this option is
      selected, bc has one more special variable.  This special variable,
      history is the number of lines of history retained.  For readline, a
      value of -1 means that an unlimited number of history lines are
      retained.  Setting the value of history to a positive number restricts
      the number of history lines to the number given.  The value of 0
      disables the history feature.  The default value is 100. For more
      information, read the user manuals for the GNU readline, history and
      BSD libedit libraries.  One can not enable both readline and libedit
      at the same time.

      This version of bc was implemented from the POSIX P1003.2/D11 draft
      and contains several differences and extensions relative to the draft
      and traditional implementations.  It is not implemented in the
      traditional way using dc(1). This version is a single process which
      parses and runs a byte code translation of the program.  There is an
      "undocumented" option (-c) that causes the program to output the byte
      code to the standard output instead of running it.  It was mainly used
      for debugging the parser and preparing the math library.

      A major source of differences is extensions, where a feature is
      extended to add more functionality and additions, where new features
      are added. The following is the list of differences and extensions.

      LANG environment
           This version does not conform to the POSIX standard in the
           processing of the LANG environment variable and all environment
           variables starting with LC_.

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 bc(1)                           GNU Project                           bc(1)

           Traditional and POSIX bc have single letter names for functions,
           variables and arrays.  They have been extended to be multi-
           character names that start with a letter and may contain letters,
           numbers and the underscore character.

           Strings are not allowed to contain NUL characters.  POSIX says
           all characters must be included in strings.

      last POSIX bc does not have a last variable.  Some implementations of
           bc use the period (.) in a similar way.

           POSIX bc allows comparisons only in the if statement, the while
           statement, and the second expression of the for statement.  Also,
           only one relational operation is allowed in each of those

      if statement, else clause
           POSIX bc does not have an else clause.

      for statement
           POSIX bc requires all expressions to be present in the for

      &&, ||, !
           POSIX bc does not have the logical operators.

      read function
           POSIX bc does not have a read function.

      print statement
           POSIX bc does not have a print statement .

      continue statement
           POSIX bc does not have a continue statement.

      return statement
           POSIX bc requires parentheses around the return expression.

      array parameters
           POSIX bc does not (currently) support array parameters in full.
           The POSIX grammar allows for arrays in function definitions, but
           does not provide a method to specify an array as an actual
           parameter.  (This is most likely an oversight in the grammar.)
           Traditional implementations of bc have only call by value array

      function format
           POSIX bc requires the opening brace on the same line as the

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 bc(1)                           GNU Project                           bc(1)

           define key word and the auto statement on the next line.

      =+, =-, =*, =/, =%, =^
           POSIX bc does not require these "old style" assignment operators
           to be defined.  This version may allow these "old style"
           assignments.  Use the limits statement to see if the installed
           version supports them.  If it does support the "old style"
           assignment operators, the statement "a =- 1" will decrement a by
           1 instead of setting a to the value -1.

      spaces in numbers
           Other implementations of bc allow spaces in numbers.  For
           example, "x=1 3" would assign the value 13 to the variable x.
           The same statement would cause a syntax error in this version of

      errors and execution
           This implementation varies from other implementations in terms of
           what code will be executed when syntax and other errors are found
           in the program.  If a syntax error is found in a function
           definition, error recovery tries to find the beginning of a
           statement and continue to parse the function.  Once a syntax
           error is found in the function, the function will not be callable
           and becomes undefined.  Syntax errors in the interactive
           execution code will invalidate the current execution block.  The
           execution block is terminated by an end of line that appears
           after a complete sequence of statements.  For example,
           a = 1
           b = 2
      has two execution blocks and
           { a = 1
             b = 2 }
      has one execution block.  Any runtime error will terminate the
      execution of the current execution block.  A runtime warning will not
      terminate the current execution block.

           During an interactive session, the SIGINT signal (usually
           generated by the control-C character from the terminal) will
           cause execution of the current execution block to be interrupted.
           It will display a "runtime" error indicating which function was
           interrupted.  After all runtime structures have been cleaned up,
           a message will be printed to notify the user that bc is ready for
           more input.  All previously defined functions remain defined and
           the value of all non-auto variables are the value at the point of
           interruption.  All auto variables and function parameters are
           removed during the clean up process.  During a non-interactive
           session, the SIGINT signal will terminate the entire run of bc.

      The following are the limits currently in place for this bc processor.

                                   - 15 -          Formatted:  June 24, 2018

 bc(1)                           GNU Project                           bc(1)

      Some of them may have been changed by an installation.  Use the limits
      statement to see the actual values.

           The maximum output base is currently set at 999.  The maximum
           input base is 16.

           This is currently an arbitrary limit of 65535 as distributed.
           Your installation may be different.

           The number of digits after the decimal point is limited to
           INT_MAX digits.  Also, the number of digits before the decimal
           point is limited to INT_MAX digits.

           The limit on the number of characters in a string is INT_MAX

           The value of the exponent in the raise operation (^) is limited
           to LONG_MAX.

      variable names
           The current limit on the number of unique names is 32767 for each
           of simple variables, arrays and functions.

      The following environment variables are processed by bc:

           This is the same as the -s option.

           This is another mechanism to get arguments to bc.  The format is
           the same as the command line arguments.  These arguments are
           processed first, so any files listed in the environment arguments
           are processed before any command line argument files.  This
           allows the user to set up "standard" options and files to be
           processed at every invocation of bc.  The files in the
           environment variables would typically contain function
           definitions for functions the user wants defined every time bc is

           This should be an integer specifying the number of characters in
           an output line for numbers. This includes the backslash and
           newline characters for long numbers.  As an extension, the value
           of zero disables the multi-line feature.  Any other value of this
           variable that is less than 3 sets the line length to 70.

                                   - 16 -          Formatted:  June 24, 2018

 bc(1)                           GNU Project                           bc(1)

      If any file on the command line can not be opened, bc will report that
      the file is unavailable and terminate.  Also, there are compile and
      run time diagnostics that should be self-explanatory.

      Error recovery is not very good yet.

      Email bug reports to  Be sure to include the word
      ``bc'' somewhere in the ``Subject:'' field.

      Philip A. Nelson

      The author would like to thank Steve Sommars (
      for his extensive help in testing the implementation.  Many great
      suggestions were given.  This is a much better product due to his

                                   - 17 -          Formatted:  June 24, 2018