Strings are converted to numbers, and numbers to strings, if the context
awk program demands it. For example, if the value of
bar in the expression `foo + bar'
happens to be a string, it is converted to a number before the addition
is performed. If numeric values appear in string concatenation, they
are converted to strings. Consider this:
two = 2; three = 3 print (two three) + 4
This prints the (numeric) value 27. The numeric values of
three are converted to strings and
concatenated together, and the resulting string is converted back to the
number 23, to which four is then added.
If, for some reason, you need to force a number to be converted to a
string, concatenate the empty string,
"", with that number.
To force a string to be converted to a number, add zero to that string.
A string is converted to a number by interpreting any numeric prefix
of the string as numerals:
"2.5" converts to 2.5,
"1e3" converts to 1000, and
has a numeric value of 25.
Strings that can't be interpreted as valid numbers are converted to
The exact manner in which numbers are converted into strings is controlled
awk built-in variable
CONVFMT (see section Built-in Variables).
Numbers are converted using the
(see section Built-in Functions for String Manipulation)
CONVFMT as the format
CONVFMT's default value is
"%.6g", which prints a value with
at least six significant digits. For some applications you will want to
change it to specify more precision. Double precision on most modern
machines gives you 16 or 17 decimal digits of precision.
Strange results can happen if you set
CONVFMT to a string that doesn't
sprintf how to format floating point numbers in a useful way.
For example, if you forget the `%' in the format, all numbers will be
converted to the same constant string.
As a special case, if a number is an integer, then the result of converting
it to a string is always an integer, no matter what the value of
CONVFMT may be. Given the following code fragment:
CONVFMT = "%2.2f" a = 12 b = a ""
b has the value
Prior to the POSIX standard,
awk specified that the value
OFMT was used for converting numbers to strings.
specifies the output format to use when printing numbers with
CONVFMT was introduced in order to separate the semantics of
conversion from the semantics of printing. Both
OFMT have the same default value:
"%.6g". In the vast majority
of cases, old
awk programs will not change their behavior.
However, this use of
OFMT is something to keep in mind if you must
port your program to other implementations of
awk; we recommend
that instead of changing your programs, you just port
See section The
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