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What do the parentheses and number after a Linux command or C function mean?

I just installed FreeBSD 8.2 using a DVD ISO and I'm a first time user of FreeBSD. I wonder why the documentation uses parentheses and numbers when describing certain functions. For example, here's a portion of the text from this documentation:

Unpack the software from its distribution format (typically a tarball compressed with compress(1), gzip(1), or bzip2(1)).

Notice the words compress, gzip and bzip2. Why do they put a parenthesis and a number after it? Even in the detail page of each function, they also use a parenthesis and a number such as:

COMPRESS(1)     FreeBSD General Commands Manual        COMPRESS(1)

NAME
     compress, uncompress -- compress and expand data

SYNOPSIS
     compress [-fv] [-b bits] [file ...]
     compress -c [-b bits] [file]
     uncompress [-f] [file ...]
     uncompress -c [file]

Is there any special meaning or notation about the usage of parenthesis and a number in it?

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@Gareth: Are you sure the dup question can answer my question because I really a newbie? If so, thanks for pointing me to the right answer. –  Newbie In FreeBsd Oct 27 '11 at 9:03
    
Please do some research before asking, thanks. –  m0skit0 Oct 27 '11 at 10:06
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marked as duplicate by 8088, slhck, JdeBP, David, Mokubai Oct 27 '11 at 16:47

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1 Answer

up vote 4 down vote accepted

They indicate what manpage section the command is described in. For example, to get information about the command line program read(1), type

man 1 read

If you are interested in the system call read(2), type

man 2 read

And if you want to know more about the C function read(3), type

man 3 read

For more information about the available sections, refer to this excellent answer.

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