About numeric literals

There are two kinds of numeric literals: integer and real. Both can have type and multiplier suffixes.

Integer literals

Integer literals can be written in decimal, hexadecimal, or binary notation. Hexadecimal literals are prefixed with 0x and binary literals are prefixed with 0b to distinguish them from decimal numbers.

Integer literals can have a type suffix and a multiplier suffix.

Suffix Meaning Note
y signed byte data type Added in PowerShell 6.2
uy unsigned byte data type Added in PowerShell 6.2
s short data type Added in PowerShell 6.2
us unsigned short data type Added in PowerShell 6.2
l long data type
u unsigned int or long data type Added in PowerShell 6.2
ul unsigned long data type Added in PowerShell 6.2
n BigInteger data type Added in PowerShell 7.0
kb kilobyte multiplier
mb megabyte multiplier
gb gigabyte multiplier
tb terabyte multiplier
pb petabyte multiplier

The type of an integer literal is determined by its value, the type suffix, and the numeric multiplier suffix.

For an integer literal with no type suffix:

  • If the value can be represented by type [int], that is its type.
  • Otherwise, if the value can be represented by type [long], that is its type.
  • Otherwise, if the value can be represented by type [decimal], that is its type.
  • Otherwise, it is represented by type [double].

For an integer literal with a type suffix:

  • If the type suffix is u and the value can be represented by type [uint] then its type is [uint].
  • If the type suffix is u and the value can be represented by type [ulong] then its type is [ulong].
  • If its value can be represented by type specified then that is its type.
  • Otherwise, that literal is malformed.

Real literals

Real literals can only be written in decimal notation. This notation can include fractional values following a decimal point and scientific notation using an exponential part.

The exponential part includes an 'e' followed by an optional sign (+/-) and a number representing the exponent. For example, the literal value 1e2 equals the numeric value 100.

Real literals can have a type suffix and a multiplier suffix.

Suffix Meaning
d decimal data type
kb kilobyte multiplier
mb megabyte multiplier
gb gigabyte multiplier
tb terabyte multiplier
pb petabyte multiplier

There are two kinds of real literal: double and decimal. These are indicated by the absence or presence, respectively, of decimal-type suffix. PowerShell does not support a literal representation of a [float] value. A double real literal has type [double]. A decimal real literal has type [decimal]. Trailing zeros in the fraction part of a decimal real literal are significant.

If the value of exponent-part's digits in a [double] real literal is less than the minimum supported, the value of that [double] real literal is 0. If the value of exponent-part's digits in a [decimal] real literal is less than the minimum supported, that literal is malformed. If the value of exponent-part's digits in a [double] or [decimal] real literal is greater than the maximum supported, that literal is malformed.

Note

The syntax permits a double real literal to have a long-type suffix. PowerShell treats this case as an integer literal whose value is represented by type [long]. This feature has been retained for backwards compatibility with earlier versions of PowerShell. However, programmers are discouraged from using integer literals of this form as they can easily obscure the literal's actual value. For example, 1.2L has value 1, 1.2345e1L has value 12, and 1.2345e-5L has value 0, none of which are immediately obvious.

Numeric multipliers

For convenience, integer and real literals can contain a numeric multiplier, which indicates one of a set of commonly used powers of 2. The numeric multiplier can be written in any combination of upper or lowercase letters.

The multiplier suffixes can be used in combination with any type suffixes, but must be present after the type suffix. For example, the literal 100gbL is malformed, but the literal 100Lgb is valid.

If a multiplier creates a value that exceeds the possible values for the numeric type that the suffix specifies, the literal is malformed. For example, the literal 1usgb is malformed, because the value 1gb is larger than what is permitted for the [ushort] type specified by the us suffix.

Multiplier examples

PS> 1kb
1024

PS> 1.30Dmb
1363148.80

PS> 0x10Gb
17179869184

PS> 1.4e23tb
1.5393162788864E+35

PS> 0x12Lpb
20266198323167232

Numeric type accelerators

PowerShell supports the following type accelerators:

Accelerator Note Description
[byte] Byte (unsigned)
[sbyte] Byte (signed)
[Int16] 16-bit integer
[short] alias for [int16] 16-bit integer
[UInt16] 16-bit integer (unsigned)
[ushort] alias for [uint16] 16-bit integer (unsigned)
[Int32] 32-bit integer
[int] alias for [int32] 32-bit integer
[UInt32] 32-bit integer (unsigned)
[uint] alias for [uint32] 32-bit integer (unsigned)
[Int64] 64-bit integer
[long] alias for [int64] 64-bit integer
[UInt64] 64-bit integer (unsigned)
[ulong] alias for [uint64] 64-bit integer (unsigned)
[bigint] See BigInteger Struct
[single] Single precision floating point
[float] alias for [single] Single precision floating point
[double] Double precision floating point
[decimal] 128-bit floating point

Note

The following type accelerators were added in PowerShell 6.2: [short], [ushort], [uint], [ulong].

Examples

The following table contains several examples of numeric literals and lists their type and value:

Number Type Value
100 Int32 100
100u UInt32 100
100D Decimal 100
100l Int64 100
100uL UInt64 100
100us UInt16 100
100uy Byte 100
100y SByte 100
1e2 Double 100
1.e2 Double 100
0x1e2 Int32 482
0x1e2L Int64 482
0x1e2D Int32 7725
482D Decimal 482
482gb Int64 517543559168
482ngb BigInteger 517543559168
0x1e2lgb Int64 517543559168
0b1011011 Int32 91
0xFFFFFFFF Int32 -1
-0xFFFFFFFF Int32 1
0xFFFFFFFFu UInt32 4294967295

Working with binary or hexadecimal numbers

Overly large binary or hexadecimal literals can return as [bigint] rather than failing the parse, if and only if the n suffix is specified. Sign bits are still respected above even [decimal] ranges, however:

  • If a binary string is some multiple of 8 bits long, the highest bit is treated as the sign bit.
  • If a hex string, which has a length that is a multiple of 8, has the first digit with 8 or higher, the numeral is treated as negative.

Specifying an unsigned suffix on binary and hex literals ignores sign bits. For example, 0xFFFFFFFF returns -1, but 0xFFFFFFFFu returns the [uint]::MaxValue of 4294967295.

Prefixing the literal with a 0 will bypass this and be treated as unsigned. For example: 0b011111111. This can be necessary when working with literals in the [bigint] range, as the u and n suffixes cannot be combined.

You can also negate binary and hex literals using the - prefix. This can result in a positive number since sign bits are permitted.

Sign bits are accepted for BigInteger-suffixed numerals:

  • BigInteger-suffixed hex treats the high bit of any literal with a length multiple of 8 characters as the sign bit. The length does not include the 0x prefix or any suffixes.
  • BigInteger-suffixed binary accepts sign bits at 96 and 128 characters, and at every 8 characters after.

Commands that look like numeric literals

Any command that looks like a valid numeric literal must be executed using the call operator (&), otherwise it is interpreted as a number. Malformed literals with valid syntax like 1usgb will result in the following error:

PS> 1usgb
At line:1 char:6
+ 1usgb
+      ~
The numeric constant 1usgb is not valid.
+ CategoryInfo          : ParserError: (:) [], ParentContainsErrorRecordException
+ FullyQualifiedErrorId : BadNumericConstant

However, malformed literals with invalid syntax like 1gbus will be interpreted as a standard bare string, and can be interpreted as a valid command name in contexts where commands may be called.

Access properties and methods of numeric objects

To access a member of a numeric literal, there are cases when you need to enclose the literal in parentheses.

  • The literal does not have a decimal point
  • The literal does not have any digits following the decimal point
  • The literal does not have a suffix

For example, the following example fails:

PS> 2.GetType().Name
At line:1 char:11
+ 2.GetType().Name
+           ~
An expression was expected after '('.
+ CategoryInfo          : ParserError: (:) [], ParentContainsErrorRecordException
+ FullyQualifiedErrorId : ExpectedExpression

The following examples work:

PS> 2uL.GetType().Name
UInt64
PS> 1.234.GetType().Name
Double
PS> (2).GetType().Name
Int32

The first two examples work without enclosing the literal value in parentheses because the PowerShell parser can determine where the numeric literal ends and the GetType method starts.

How PowerShell parses numeric literals

PowerShell v7.0 changed the way numeric literals are parsed to enable the new features.

Parsing real numeric literals

If the literal contains a decimal point or the e-notation, the literal string is parsed a real number.

  • If the decimal-suffix is present then directly into [decimal].
  • Else, parse as [Double] and apply multiplier to the value. Then check the type suffixes and attempt to cast into appropriate type.
  • If the string has no type suffix, then parse as [Double].

Paring integer numeric literals

Integer type literals are parsed using the following steps:

  1. Determine the radix format
    • For binary formats, parse into [BigInteger].
    • For hexidecimal formats, parse into [BigInteger] using special casies to retain original behaviours when the value is in the [int] or [long] range.
    • If neither binary nor hex, parse normally as a [BigInteger].
  2. Apply the multiplier value before attempting any casts to ensure type bounds can be appropriately checked without overflows.
  3. Check type suffixes.
    • Check type bounds and attempt to parse into that type.
    • If no suffix is used, then the value is bounds-checked in the following order, resulting in the first successful test determining the type of the number.
      • [int]
      • [long]
      • [decimal] (base-10 literals only)
      • [double] (base-10 literals only)
    • If the value is outside the [long] range for hex and binary numbers, the parse fails.
    • If the value is outside the [double] range for base 10 number, the parse fails.
    • Higher values must be explicitly written using the n suffix to parse the literal as a BigInteger.

Parsing large value literals

Previously, higher integer values were parsed as double before being cast to any other type. This results in a loss of precision in the higher ranges. For example:

PS> [bigint]111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111
111111111111111100905595216014112456735339620444667904

To avoid this problem you had to write values as strings and then convert them:

PS> [bigint]'111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111'
111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111

In PowerShell 7.0 you must use the N suffix.

PS> 111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111n
111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111

Also values between [ulong]::MaxValue and [decimal]::MaxValue should be denoted using the decimal-suffix D to maintain accuracy. Without the suffix, these values are parsed as [Double] using the real-parsing mode.