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What does a dollar sign followed by a square bracket $[…] mean in bash?

I saw something similar to this in some code in one of my books
var=$[ $var1 - $var2 ]

I wanted to know what it did and why it was used. I’m a perfectionist with OCD.

Turns out it is deprecated from the BASH language.
Originally $[] was used to do math in Bash scripts to do Math known as arithmetic expansion.

So the new way in BASH is to use the following syntax.

var=$(( $var1 - $var2))

Basically what this syntax does is it allows you to do math more easily. Without the above syntax you have to escape certain characters like >< With the above syntax you can basically do math without escaping plus youcan use post-increment $var++, post-decrement $var– , logical and &&, logical or || bitwise math etc. It really helps you out.

Further links, resources and information

More info on stackexchange Same as the link above

Another good source of info about the (()) syntax as used in if and while statements is found in the book Linux Command Line and Shell Scripting Bible.  starting on page 325 If you don’t own the book I highly suggest it. I’ve found one errata so far and that is what this post is about.

More links and resources to BASH scripting

More links and linux resources

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