UNITS(1) BSD General Commands Manual UNITS(1)
units -- conversion program
units [-f filename] [-qv] [[count] from-unit to-unit]
units converts quantities expression in various scales to their equivalents in other scales. units can only handle multiplicative scale
changes. It cannot convert Centigrade to Fahrenheit, for example.
The following options are supported:
-f filename Specifies the name of the units data file to load.
-q Suppresses prompting of the user for units and the display of statistics about the number of units loaded.
-v Prints the version number.
from-unit to-unit Allows a single unit conversion to be done directly from the command line. No prompting will occur. units will
print out only the result of this single conversion. The count argument can be prepended to the from-unit or it can
units works interactively by prompting the user for input:
You have: meters
You want: feet
You have: cm^3
You want: gallons
Powers of units can be specified using the ``^'' character as shown in the example, or by simple concatenation: ``cm3'' is equivalent to
``cm^3''. Multiplication of units can be specified by using spaces, a dash or an asterisk. Division of units is indicated by the slash
('/'). Note that multiplication has a higher precedence than division, so ``m/s/s'' is the same as ``m/s^2'' or ``m/s s''. If the user
enters incompatible unit types, the units program will print a message indicating that the units are not conformable and it will display the
reduced form for each unit:
You have: ergs/hour
You want: fathoms kg^2 / day
2.7777778e-11 kg m^2 / sec^3
2.1166667e-05 kg^2 m / sec
The conversion information is read from a units data file. The default file includes definitions for most familiar units, abbreviations and
metric prefixes. Some constants of nature included are:
pi ratio of circumference to diameter
c speed of light
e charge on an electron
g acceleration of gravity
force same as g
mole Avogadro's number
water pressure per unit height of water
mercury pressure per unit height of mercury
au astronomical unit
``pound'' is a unit of mass. Compound names are run together so ``poundforce'' is a unit of force. British units that differ from their US
counterparts are prefixed with ``br'', and currency is prefixed with its country name: ``belgiumfranc'', ``britainpound''. When searching
for a unit, if the specified string does not appear exactly as a unit name, then the units program will try to remove a trailing ``s'' or a
trailing ``es'' and check again for a match.
All of these definitions can be read in the standard units file, or you can supply your own file. A unit is specified on a single line by
giving its name and an equivalence. One should be careful to define new units in terms of old ones so that a reduction leads to the primi-
tive units which are marked with '!' characters. units will not detect infinite loops that could be caused by careless unit definitions.
Prefixes are defined in the same way as standard units, but with a trailing dash at the end of the prefix name.
/usr/share/misc/units.lib the standard units library
Adrian Mariano <firstname.lastname@example.org> or <email@example.com>
While units can be used as a calculator for many unit-related computations, caution is required: many computations require additional con-
stant factors deriving from the physics (or chemistry or whatever) of the situation. As these factors are dimensionless, units cannot itself
either provide them or warn the user when they have been forgotten. For example, one joule is one kilogram meter squared per second squared,
by definition; however, the kinetic energy of a one-kilogram object moving at one meter per second is half a joule, not one joule, because of
a dimensionless factor that arises from integration.
Also, some pairs of units that have the same dimensionality are nonetheless used to measure different things and attempting to convert
between them may require additional fudge factors or be entirely meaningless. For example, torque and energy have the same dimensionality,
but attempting to convert torque in newton-meters to energy in joules is nonsensical. There is no practical way for units to warn about
these issues either.
The effect of including a '/' in a prefix is surprising.
Exponents entered by the user can be only one digit. You can work around this by multiplying several terms.
The user must use '|' to indicate division of numbers and '/' to indicate division of symbols. This distinction should not be necessary.
The program contains various arbitrary limits on the length of the units converted and on the length of the data file.
The program should use a hash table to store units so that it doesn't take so long to load the units list and check for duplication.
April 3, 2011 BSD