Is it possible to run a simple script inside LuaLaTeX or LaTeX?

For example, I need to use the calculator from the terminal. I'd like to write

$echo "100.83*4.53" | bc

and obtain the result in LuaLaTeX or LaTeX. Is there a command (called \runscript, for instance) that runs a script from within LuaLaTeX or LaTeX and that I could use as follows:

\runscript{echo "100.83*4.53" | bc}

and get "456.7599" as result?

Is it possible, perhaps with some Perl or Python script?

  • 1
    You can directly do the computation with Lua.
    – egreg
    Commented May 18, 2013 at 12:35
  • @dıʞsdoʇ What about os.exec in LuaTeX? Is it practical?
    – egreg
    Commented May 18, 2013 at 13:09
  • @egreg os.exec() is perfect for that task
    – topskip
    Commented May 18, 2013 at 13:14
  • @egreg meybe not. os.exec not include data to lualatex
    – Pankracy
    Commented May 18, 2013 at 13:53
  • 1
    LaTeX solution is explained here.
    – g.kov
    Commented May 18, 2013 at 14:29

1 Answer 1


With LuaTeX you can do something like this:



and the file runfunc.lua is this:

local i,j = io.popen([[echo "100.83*4.53" | bc]])
if not i then

run with

lualatex --shell-escape ‹filename.tex›

to allow io.popen().

  • 1
    @Pankracy If it works for you, it would be nice to "accept" my answer by clicking on the checkmark right below the number of votes of that question.
    – topskip
    Commented May 18, 2013 at 18:29
  • @topskip This is brilliant, but is there a way to pass in echo "100.83*4.53" | bc as an argument to the \foo command from the LuaTeX document directly? Commented Sep 18, 2016 at 1:03
  • 1
    I found stackoverflow.com/questions/9676113/lua-os-execute-return-value and basically did this: \newcommand\foo[1]{\directlua{ local handle = io.popen([[#1]]) local result = handle:read("*a") tex.print(result) handle:close() }} and then just \foo{some shell command}. I'm sure there will be quoting problems for anything involving special characters, but for now it works well enough. Commented Sep 18, 2016 at 1:09

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