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# The let builtin

## Synopsis

let arg [arg ...]

## Description

The `let`

builtin command evaluates each supplied word from left to right as an arithmetic expression and returns an exit code according to the truth value of the rightmost expression.

- 0 (TRUE) when
`arg`

evaluated to not 0 (arithmetic "true") - 1 (FALSE) when
`arg`

evaluated to 0 (arithmetic "false")

For this return code mapping, please see this section. They work in the same way as `((`

.

## Examples

$ let 'b = a' "(a += 3) + $((a = 1)), b++" $ echo "$a - $b - $?" 4 - 2 - 0

Is equivalent to the arithmetic evaluation compound command

$ (( b = a, (a += 3) + $((a = 1)), b++ )) $ echo "$a - $b - $?" 4 - 2 - 0

The latter is almost always preferred. No wordsplitting or pathname expansion occurs within the arithmetic command. However, all the usual expansions and argument passing rules which apply to ordinary simple commands also apply to `let`

. Be careful about quoting and escaping. A rough analogy: `[`

: `[[`

:: `let`

: `((`

, except that `let`

has no standalone command and is non-standard.

Remember that inside arithmetic evaluation contexts, all other expansions are processed as usual (from left-to-right), and the resulting text is evaluated as an arithmetic expression. Arithmetic already has a way to control precedence using parentheses, so it's very rare to need to nest arithmetic expansions within one another. It's used above only for illustrative purposes - to show how this precedence works.

## Portability considerations

- the
`let`

command is not specified by POSIX®. The standard equivalent is:[ "$(( <EXPRESSION> ))" -ne 0 ]

- expr(1) is a command one is likely to come across sooner or later. While it is more "standard" than
`let`

, the above should always be preferred. Both arithmetic expansions and the`[`

test operator are specified by POSIX® and satisfy almost all of expr's use-cases. Unlike`let`

,`expr`

cannot assign directly to bash variables but instead returns a result on stdout.`expr`

takes each operator it recognizes as a separate word and then concatenates them into a single expression that's evaluated according to it's own rules (which differ from shell arithmetic).`let`

parses each word it recieves on its own and evaluates it as an expression without generating any output other than a return code.

- the quotes around the arithmetic expansion are only necessary with Bash and AT&T versions of ksh, other standard shells such as ash, pdksh or zsh derivatives don't have that bug/misfeature.

## See also

- Internal: arithmetic expansion
- Internal: arithmetic expressions
- Internal: arithmetic evaluation compound command

## Discussion

I believe the internal links to "arithmetic expansion" should be directed here:

http://wiki.bash-hackers.org/syntax/expansion/arith

Instead of:

http://wiki.bash-hackers.org/syntax/arith_expr

Just an fyi...

Of course, my bad...

Thanks