Linux – command line utility to print statistics of numbers in linux


I often find myself with a file that has one number per line. I end up importing it in excel to view things like median, standard deviation and so forth.

Is there a command line utility in linux to do the same? I usually need to find the average, median, min, max and std deviation.

Best Solution

This is a breeze with R. For a file that looks like this:


Use this:

R -q -e "x <- read.csv('nums.txt', header = F); summary(x); sd(x[ , 1])"

To get this:

 Min.   : 1.00  
 1st Qu.: 3.25  
 Median : 5.50  
 Mean   : 5.50  
 3rd Qu.: 7.75  
 Max.   :10.00  
[1] 3.02765
  • The -q flag squelches R's startup licensing and help output
  • The -e flag tells R you'll be passing an expression from the terminal
  • x is a data.frame - a table, basically. It's a structure that accommodates multiple vectors/columns of data, which is a little peculiar if you're just reading in a single vector. This has an impact on which functions you can use.
  • Some functions, like summary(), naturally accommodate data.frames. If x had multiple fields, summary() would provide the above descriptive stats for each.
  • But sd() can only take one vector at a time, which is why I index x for that command (x[ , 1] returns the first column of x). You could use apply(x, MARGIN = 2, FUN = sd) to get the SDs for all columns.