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Command line version of the UACalc
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This is the main Git repository for UACalc_CLI, which provides a command line interface to the Universal Algebra Calculator. You are now reading the contents of the file, which explains how to set up the UACalc_CLI, and then gives a few examples demonstrating how to import and use UACalc classes on the command line.

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Introduction and Motivation

This section briefly describes some background and motivation for this GitHub repository. If you already know what the UACalc is and why you would want to use it from the command line, you can skip to the next section on Installation of the UACalc command line interface (CLI).

The Universal Algebra Calculator (UACalc) is powerful software for studying and experimenting with general (universal) algebras. It is written entirely in Java and it has a very nice, user friendly graphical user interface (gui). The UACalc lacks a command line interface (cli), and for some tasks we might prefer a cli over a gui.

A common scenario is the following: we wish to construct a large collection of algebras and, iterating over this collection, use some functionality provided by UACalc to search for a counterexample to some conjecture. One solution would be to write a Java program to do this, since we can access the opensource Java classes and methods provided by UACalc.  Although Java is a nice language that makes programming relatively painless, it is still time consuming to write a decent, correct Java program.  For fast prototyping and experimentation, it would be nice to have a scripting language interface to UACalc. Jython provides this.

Jython is an implementation of (the scripting language) Python in Java. It has the advantage (for us) that it can read Java libraries the the uacalc.jar library. Therefore, the Jython interpreter can be used as a command line interface (CLI) to the UACalc.

The Scala programming language provides an alternative CLI to the UACalc, as briefly described here. More support for Scala programming with UACalc packages is currently under development. (For more info, contact William DeMeo.)

The next section describes a few ways to install and configure a command line version of UACalc. Later sections show how to import UACalc classes from the Jython command line interpreter, and then use simple Python syntax to work with the resulting UACalc objects.


There are three ways to install and configure the command line version of the UACalc. They should all leave you with the following directories:


including a script UACalc_CLI/CLI/uacalc which starts the Jython interpreter with UACalc dependencies preconfigured. If you try any of the methods described below and you have problems, please report the issue.

NOTE: If you are already familiar with Jython, it's not absolutely necessary to follow the full setup procedure described here. All you really need is the uacalc.jar file. See the section below For Experienced Jython Users.

Method 1: simple tar file download

Assuming you already have Java installed, or you want to install it yourself, this method may work for you and is probably the simplest.

  1. Download the file

  2. Extract this tar archive with a command like the following:

    tar xvf UACalc_CLI.tar

    Note: If you already have a UACalc_CLI directory, you can prevent tar from overwriting files that are newer than those in the archive by using the --keep-newer-files option. That is, instead of the tar command above, you could invoke the following:

    tar --keep-newer-files xvf UACalc_CLI.tar

    (Alternatively, consider tar's -w option.)

To start using UACalc at the command line, see section Starting the UACalc CLI below.

Method 2: automatic setup script for Ubuntu

The script in this repository will automatically set up everything on a Ubuntu Linux system. If you are not using Ubuntu, you can read the comments in the file, and follow the analogous steps for your platform. (Work on generalizing the script so that it runs on other operating systems is in progress.)

The script can be run on a Ubuntu Linux system by issuing the following commands in a terminal window (at the shell prompt):

chmod a+x

To start using UACalc at the command line, see section Starting the UACalc CLI below.

Method 3: clone this git repository

If you have git installed, you can clone this repository with the command

git clone

This will give you everything you need to start using UACalc at the command line, as explained in the next section.

(For UACalc team members, the notes below describe how to clone in such a way that GitHub won't ask for login credentials every time you push changes to the repository.)

Starting the UACalc CLI

IMPORTANT After using one of the methods described above for obtaining the software, you must open the file called UACalc_CLI/CLI/ in an editor and change the line

UACALC_CLI_ROOT = expanduser("~/git/UACalc_CLI")

so that the string "~/git/UACalc_CLI" is the fully qualified name of your UACalc_CLI directory.

That is, UACALC_CLI_ROOT must be equal to the directory on your system that contains the Algebras, Examples, and CLI subdirectories.

Start the Jython interpreter by running the script uacalc. For example, from within the UACalc_CLI/CLI directory, you could enter ./uacalc on the command line of a terminal window.

You may wish to add the UACalc_CLI/CLI directory to your search $PATH, so that in the future you can simply type uacalc on the command line.

An interactive session

Here we describe a brief interactive Jython session that makes use of some UACalc methods. For more examples, visit the UACalc_CLI/Examples directory.

You can call some "hidden" UACalc methods (that don't yet appear in the gui menu). For example, if you go visit the UACalc javadocs and click on CongruenceLattice in the lower left pane, you will find the method

commutator(BinaryRelation S, BinaryRelation T)

(There are also methods for the weak and strong rectangularity commutators, as well as centrality methods.)

The sample interactive session below does the following:

  1. Read in the algebra f3 (the reduct of the three element field to multiplication).

  2. Check its cardinality.

  3. Define theta to be the nontrivial congruence and define one to be the top.

  4. Check the commutator [theta,one] = zero but [one,theta] = theta.

  5. Quit.

    [ralph@mahiloa:~/git/UACalc_CLI/CLI]$ uacalc
    Starting Jython with UACalc dependencies.  Please be patient...
    Welcome to the command line version of UACalc!
        to exit type quit()
        (more help coming)
    >>> f3 = AlgebraIO.readAlgebraFile("/home/ralph/git/UACalc_CLI/Algebras/")
    >>> f3.cardinality()
    >>> conlat = f3.con().getUniverseList()
    >>> conlat
    [|0|1|2|, |0|1,2|, |0,1,2|]
    >>> theta = conlat[1]
    >>> theta
    >>> one = conlat[2]
    >>> one
    >>> f3.con().commutator(theta,one)
    >>> f3.con().commutator(one,theta)
    >>> quit()

User feedback and contributions

We depend on feedback from the user community. If you find any that doesn't work, please open a new issue.

On the other hand, if you have found the command line interface to UACalc useful in your work, please consider sharing some example code with the community. You can email Ralph Freese or William DeMeo, or post to the UACalc_CLI Wiki (requires GitHub login).

Additional information

  • More examples are described in the UACalc_CLI/Examples directory.
  • To see what UACalc packages you can import on the Jython command line, and to learn about their methods, consult the UACalc javadocs.
  • The official UACalc website is

For Experienced Jython Users

If you are already familiar with Jython, it's not absolutely necessary to follow the setup procedure described above. All you really need is the uacalc.jar file. With that file, you could start Jython and then invoke the following two commands:

    >>> import sys
    >>> sys.path.append("/home/username/uacalc.jar")

Then you should already be able to try some of the examples described in the UACalc_CLI/Examples directory.

See the file UACalc_CLI/CLI/ for other configuration options.

Notes/reminders for administrators

To create a new tar file from the git repository, use the following commands:

cd ~/git    # assuming repository is in ~/git/UACalc_CLI
tar --exclude=.git --exclude=*~ -cvf UACalc_CLI.tar UACalc_CLI

This excludes the git repository and the file from the resulting UACalc_CLI.tar file. We might also consider the -u (update) option to only append files that are newer than those already in the archive.

If you have a GitHub account and have setup ssh-keys, you might prefer to clone the repository with the following command instead of the http version mentioned above.

git clone

That way GitHub won't ask for your credentials every time you want to push something to the repo. Alternatively, if you have already used the http method of cloning the repo, you can switch to ssh using the following command:

git remote set-url origin

See also: GitHub doc on switching remote url

At some point in October 2014 this whole repository was inadvertently overwritten with the uacalcsrc source code tree, so the following commands were issued to take us back to the previous state of the repository (from March 2014):

  1. Reset the index to the desired tree

     git reset 56e05fced
  2. Move the branch pointer back to the previous HEAD

     git reset --soft HEAD@{1}
     git commit -m "Revert to 56e05fced"
  3. Update working copy to reflect the new commit

     git reset --hard
  4. clean up any untracked files that lingered about.

     git clean -f -d 


(This could have been done with one simple command like git reset --hard 6fad311, but the foregoing is clearer.)

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