Relational and Boolean Operators

Relational and Boolean operators allow you to make comparisons between two expressions. The relational operators are found in Table 7.4.

Table 7.4. Relational Operators
<Less than
>Greater than
<=Less than or equal to
>=Greater than or equal to
==Equal to
!=Not equal to
!~Does not match

A relational expression can be used in place of a pattern to control a particular action. For instance, if we wanted to limit the records selected for processing to those that have five fields, we could use the following expression:

NF == 5

This relational expression compares the value of NF (the number of fields for each input record) to five. If it is true, the action will be executed; otherwise, it will not.


Make sure you notice that the relational operator “==” (“is equal to”) is not the same as the assignment operator “=” (“equals”). It is a common error to use “=” instead of “==” to test for equality.

We can use a relational expression to validate the phonelist database before attempting to print out the record.

NF == 6 { print $1, $6 }

Then only lines with six fields will be printed.

The opposite of “==” is “!=” (“is not equal to”). Similarly, you can compare one expression to another to see if it is greater than (>) or less than (<) or greater than or equal to (>=) or less than or equal to (<=). The expression

NR > 1

tests whether the number of the current record is greater than 1. As we’ll see in the next chapter, relational ...

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