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I was wondering, is it possible to do simple maths in bash? I'm thinking something like, =25-5 would print out 20 or something.

Can this be done easily?

Thank you

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up vote 13 down vote accepted

Just type "bc" no quote into the terminal. Then type all the math stuff in after that.

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Just for clarity it would be like that : echo 25-5 | bc – Medhat Helmy May 13 at 9:17

If we are really talking about Bash, not Bourne Shell (sh) or other shells, it's easy.

Bash can compute basic expressions with $((expression)) and here's an example on how you might like to use it:

 echo $c

or for interactive use, just

 echo $((7*3+4))
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It does seem to be proper bash, since that works. I am ssh-ing into one of my universities clusters – Kurru Mar 11 '11 at 0:59
The $((expression)) syntax is part of the POSIX sh standard, and derived from ksh. – geekosaur Mar 11 '11 at 1:05
Bash can only do integer arithmetic. It cannot do floating point arithmetic like ksh93 or zsh – fpmurphy1 Mar 11 '11 at 2:27

There are a number of command-line utilities for doing simple calculations:

$ expr 100 \* 4

$ echo '100 * 4' | bc

to name just two of them. Be careful doing multiplication as if you don't escape your * the shell may try and interpret it as a wildcard.

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Well your question is answered, but consider this:

Most of the linux distros have python preinstalled, so why not use it?

Just type


in the terminal and then do all the arithmetics you want, like


Will output 4 :)

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very nice :) thanks – Kurru Mar 11 '11 at 0:58
On my computer, typing python takes nearly two seconds to start. Rather annoying if you just want to do something simple like 2+2. – ShreevatsaR Mar 11 '11 at 7:14

Another is AWK:

awk 'BEGIN {4 + 3 / 12}'
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Or Ruby. :)

Although it may not come pre-installed, it is pretty quick.

Type irb, then 2+2.

Or just ruby -e 'p 2+2'

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