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About Arithmetic Operators

JuanPablo Jofre|Last Updated: 2/13/2017
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3 Contributors

SHORT DESCRIPTION

Describes the operators that perform arithmetic in Windows PowerShell.

LONG DESCRIPTION

Arithmetic operators calculate numeric values. You can use one or more arithmetic operators to add, subtract, multiply, and divide values, and to calculate the remainder (modulus) of a division operation.

In addition, the addition operator (+) and multiplication operator (*) also operate on strings, arrays, and hash tables. The addition operator concatenates the input. The multiplication operator returns multiple copies of the input. You can even mix object types in an arithmetic statement. The method that is used to evaluate the statement is determined by the type of the leftmost object in the expression.

Beginning in Windows PowerShell 2.0, all arithmetic operators work on 64-bit numbers.

Beginning in Windows PowerShell 3.0, the -shr (shift-right) and -shl (shift-left) are added to support bitwise arithmetic in Windows PowerShell.

Windows PowerShell supports the following arithmetic operators:

OperatorDescriptionExample
+Adds integers; concatenates strings, concatenates strings, concatenates arrays, and hash tables.6 + 2
"file" + "name"
@(1, "one") + @(2.0, "two")
@{"one" = 1} + @{"two" = 2}
-Subtracts one value from another value.6-2
(get-date).date - 1
-Makes a number a negative number.-6
*Multiplies numbers, copies strings and arrays the specified number of times.6 * 2
"!" * 3
@("!") * 4
/Divides two values.6 / 2
%Returns the remainder of a division operation.7 % 2
-shlShifts bits to the left the specified number of times. Available only on integer types.100 -shl 2
-shrShifts bits to the right the specified number of times. Available only on integer types.100 -shr 2

OPERATOR PRECEDENCE

Windows PowerShell processes arithmetic operators in the following order:

  1. () parentheses
  2. - (for a negative number)
  3. *, /, %
  4. +, - (for subtraction)

Windows PowerShell processes the expressions from left to right according to the precedence rules. The following examples show the effect of the precedence rules:

C:\PS> 3+6/3*4
11

C:\PS> 3+6/(3*4)  
3.5

C:\PS> (3+6)/3*4  
12

The order in which Windows PowerShell evaluates expressions might differ from other programming and scripting languages that you have used. The following example shows a complicated assignment statement.

C:\PS> $a = 0
C:\PS> $b = 1,2
C:\PS> $c = -1,-2

C:\PS> $b[$a] = $c[$a++]

C:\PS> $b
1
-1

In this example, the expression $a++ is evaluated before $c[$a++]. Evaluating $a++ changes the value of $a. The variable $a in $b[$a] equals 1, not 0, so the statement assigns a value to $b[1], not $b[0].

DIVISION AND ROUNDING

When the quotient of a division operation is an integer, Windows PowerShell rounds the value to the nearest integer. When the value is .5, it rounds to the nearest even integer.

The following example shows the effect of rounding to the nearest even integer.

C:\PS> [int]( 5 / 2 )
2
C:\PS> [int]( 7 / 2 )
4

ADDING AND MULTIPLYING NON-NUMERIC TYPES

You can add numbers, strings, arrays, and hash tables. And, you can multiply numbers, strings, and arrays. However, you cannot multiply hash tables.

When you add strings, arrays, or hash tables, the elements are concatenated. When you concatenate collections, such as arrays or hash tables, a new object is created that contains the objects from both collections. If you try to concatenate hash tables that have the same key, the operation fails.

For example, the following commands create two arrays and then add them:

C:\PS> $a = 1,2,3
C:\PS> $b = "A","B","C"
C:\PS> $a + $b
1
2
3
A
B
C

You can also perform arithmetic operations on objects of different types. The operation that Windows PowerShell performs is determined by the Microsoft .NET Framework type of the leftmost object in the operation. Windows PowerShell tries to convert all the objects in the operation to the .NET Framework type of the first object. If it succeeds in converting the objects, it performs the operation appropriate to the .NET Framework type of the first object. If it fails to convert any of the objects, the operation fails.

The following example demonstrates the use of the addition and multiplication operators in operations that include different object types:

C:\PS> "file" + 16
file16
C:\PS> $array = 1,2,3
C:\PS> $array + 16
1
2
3
16
C:\PS> $array + "file"
1
2
3
file
C:\PS> "file" * 3
filefilefile

Because the method that is used to evaluate statements is determined by the leftmost object, addition and multiplication in Windows PowerShell are not strictly commutative. For example, (a + b) does not always equal (b + a), and (ab) does not always equal (ba).

The following examples demonstrate this principle:

C:\PS> "file" + 2
file2
C:\PS> 2 + "file"
Cannot convert value "file" to type "System.Int32". Error: "Input
string was not in a correct format."
At line:1 char:4
+ 2 + <<<<  "file"
C:\PS> "file" * 3
filefilefile
C:\PS> 3 * "file"
Cannot convert value "file" to type "System.Int32". Error: "Input
string was not in a correct format."
At line:1 char:4
+ 3 * <<<<  "file"

Hash tables are a slightly different case. You can add hash tables. And, you can add a hash table to an array. However, you cannot add any other type to a hash table.

The following examples show how to add hash tables to each other and to other objects:

C:\PS> $hash1 = @{a=1; b=2; c=3}
C:\PS> $hash2 = @{c1="Server01"; c2="Server02"}
C:\PS> $hash1 + $hash2

Name                           Value
----                           -----
c2                             Server02
a                              1
b                              2
c1                             Server01
c                              3
C:\PS> $hash1 + 2
You can add another hash table only to a hash table.
At line:1 char:9
+ $hash1 + <<<<  2
C:\PS> 2 + $hash1
Cannot convert "System.Collections.Hashtable" to "System.Int32".
At line:1 char:4
+ 2 + <<<<  $hash1

The following examples demonstrate that you can add a hash table to an array. The entire hash table is added to the array as a single object.

C:\PS> $array = 1,2,3
C:\PS> $array + $hash1
1
2
3

Name                           Value
----                           -----
a                              1
b                              2
c                              3
C:\PS> $sum = $array + $hash1
C:\PS> $sum.count
4
C:\PS> $sum[3]
Name                           Value
----                           -----
a                              1
b                              2
c                              3
PS C:\ps-test> $sum + $hash2
1
2
3

Name                           Value
----                           -----
a                              1
b                              2
c                              3
c2                             Server02

The following example shows that you cannot add hash tables that contain the same key:

C:\PS> $hash1 = @{a=1; b=2; c=3}
C:\PS> $hash2 = @{c="red"}
C:\PS> $hash1 + $hash2
Bad argument to operator '+': Item has already been added.
Key in dictionary: 'c'    Key being added: 'c'.
At line:1 char:9
+ $hash1 + <<<<  $hash2

Although the addition operators are very useful, use the assignment operators to add elements to hash tables and arrays. For more information see about_assignment_operators. The following examples use the += assignment operator to add items to an array:

C:\PS>  $array
1
2
3

C:\PS>  $array + "file"
1
2
3
file

C:\PS>  $array
1
2
3

C:\PS>  $array += "file"
C:\PS>  $array
1
2
3
file
C:\PS> $hash1
Name                           Value
----                           -----
a                              1
b                              2
c                              3

C:\PS> $hash1 += @{e = 5}
C:\PS> $hash1
Name                           Value
----                           -----
a                              1
b                              2
e                              5
c                              3

Windows PowerShell automatically selects the .NET Framework numeric type that best expresses the result without losing precision. For example:

C:\PS> 2 + 3.1
5.1

C:\PS> (2). GetType().FullName
System.Int32
C:\PS> (2 + 3.1).GetType().FullName
System.Double

If the result of an operation is too large for the type, the type of the result is widened to accommodate the result, as in the following example:

C:\PS> (512MB).GetType().FullName
System.Int32
C:\PS> (512MB * 512MB).GetType().FullName
System.Double

The type of the result will not necessarily be the same as one of the operands. In the following example, the negative value cannot be cast to an unsigned integer, and the unsigned integer is too large to be cast to Int32:

C:\PS> ([int32]::minvalue + [uint32]::maxvalue).gettype().fullname
System.Int64

In this example, Int64 can accommodate both types.

The System.Decimal type is an exception. If either operand has the Decimal type, the result will be of the Decimal type. If the result is too large for the Decimal type, it will not be cast to Double. Instead, an error results.

C:\PS> [Decimal]::maxvalue
79228162514264337593543950335
C:\PS> [Decimal]::maxvalue + 1
Value was either too large or too small for a Decimal.
At line:1 char:22
+ [Decimal]::maxvalue + <<<<  1

ARITHMETIC OPERATORS AND VARIABLES

You can also use arithmetic operators with variables. The operators act on the values of the variables. The following examples demonstrate the use of arithmetic operators with variables:

C:\PS> $intA = 6
C:\PS> $intB = 4
C:\PS> $intA + $intB
10
C:\PS> $a = "Windows "
C:\PS> $b = "PowerShell "
C:\PS> $c = 2
C:\PS> $a + $b + $c

Windows PowerShell 2

ARITHMETIC OPERATORS AND COMMANDS

Typically, you use the arithmetic operators in expressions with numbers, strings, and arrays. However, you can also use arithmetic operators with the objects that commands return and with the properties of those objects.

The following examples show how to use the arithmetic operators in expressions with Windows PowerShell commands:

C:\PS> get-date
Wednesday, January 02, 2008 1:28:42 PM
C:\PS> $day = new-timespan -day 1
C:\PS> get-date + $day
Thursday, January 03, 2008 1:34:52 PM
C:\PS> get-process | where {($_.ws * 2) -gt 50mb}
Handles  NPM(K)    PM(K)      WS(K) VM(M)   CPU(s)     Id ProcessName
-------  ------    -----      ----- -----   ------     -- -----------
   1896      39    50968      30620   264 1,572.55   1104 explorer
  12802      78   188468      81032   753 3,676.39   5676 OUTLOOK
    660       9    36168      26956   143    12.20    988 PowerShell
    561      14     6592      28144   110 1,010.09    496 services
   3476      80    34664      26092   234 ...45.69    876 svchost
    967      30    58804      59496   416   930.97   2508 WINWORD

EXAMPLES

The following examples show how to use the arithmetic operators in Windows PowerShell:

C:\PS> 1 + 1
2
C:\PS> 1 - 1
0
C:\PS> -(6 + 3)
-9
C:\PS> 6 * 2
12
C:\PS> 7 / 2
3.5
C:\PS> 7 % 2
1
C:\PS> w * 3
www

C:\PS> 3 * "w"
Cannot convert value "w" to type "System.Int32". Error: "Input string was not
in a correct format."
At line:1 char:4
+ 3 * <<<< "w"
PS C:\ps-test> "Windows" + " " + "PowerShell"
Windows PowerShell

PS C:\ps-test> $a = "Windows" + " " + "PowerShell"
PS C:\ps-test> $a
Windows PowerShell

C:\PS> $a[0]
W
C:\PS> $a = "TestFiles.txt"
C:\PS> $b = "C:\Logs\"
C:\PS> $b + $a
C:\Logs\TestFiles.txt
C:\PS> $a = 1,2,3
C:\PS> $a + 4
1
2
3
4
C:\PS> $servers = @{0 = "LocalHost"; 1 = "Server01"; 2 = "Server02"}
C:\PS> $servers + @{3 = "Server03"}
Name Value
---- -----
3    Server03
2    Server02
1    Server01
0    LocalHost

C:\PS> $servers
Name Value
---- -----
2    Server02
1    Server01
0    LocalHost

C:\PS> $servers += @{3 = "Server03"} #Use assignment operator
C:\PS> $servers
Name Value
---- -----
3    Server03
2    Server02
1    Server01
0    LocalHost

BITWISE ARITHMETIC IN WINDOWS POWERSHELL

Windows PowerShell supports the -shl (shift-left) and -shr (shift-right) operators for bitwise arithmetic.

These operators are introduced in Windows PowerShell 3.0.

In a bitwise shift-left operation, all bits are moved "n" places to the left, where "n" is the value of the right operand. A zero is inserted in the ones place.

When the left operand is an Integer (32-bit) value, the lower 5 bits of the right operand determine how many bits of the left operand are shifted.

When the left operand is a Long (64-bit) value, the lower 6 bits of the right operand determine how many bits of the left operand are shifted.

PS C:> 21 -shl 1
42

  00010101  (21)
  00101010  (42)
PS C:> 21 -shl 2
84

  00010101  (21)
  00101010  (42)
  01010100  (84)

In a bitwise shift-right operation, all bits are moved "n" places to the right, where "n" is specified by the right operand. The shift-right operator (-shr) inserts a zero in the left-most place when shifting a positive or unsigned value to the right.

When the left operand is an Integer (32-bit) value, the lower 5 bits of the right operand determine how many bits of the left operand are shifted.

When the left operand is a Long (64-bit) value, the lower 6 bits of the right operand determine how many bits of the left operand are shifted.

PS C:> 21 -shr 1
10

  00010101  (21)
  00001010  (10)
PS C:> 21 -shr 2
5

  00010101  (21)
  00001010  (10)
  00000101  ( 5)

SEE ALSO

about_arrays

about_assignment_operators

about_comparison_operators

about_hash_tables

about_operators

about_variables

Get-Date

New-TimeSpan

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