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3.1 About Expressions and Special Variables

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 16. Assigning a value outside this range to ibase will result in a value of 2 or 16. Input numbers may contain the characters 0-9 and A-F. (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 FFF 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.


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