git‐merge‐base − Find as good common ancestors as possible
for a merge

git merge−base [−a|−−all] <commit> <commit>...
git merge−base [−a|−−all] −−octopus <commit>...
git merge−base −−is−ancestor <commit> <commit>
git merge−base −−independent <commit>...
git merge−base −−fork−point <ref> [<commit>]

git merge−base finds best common ancestor(s) between two
commits to use in a three−way merge. One common ancestor is
better than another common ancestor if the latter is an
ancestor of the former. A common ancestor that does not have
any better common ancestor is a best common ancestor, i.e. a
merge base. Note that there can be more than one merge base
for a pair of commits.

As the most common special case, specifying only two commits
on the command line means computing the merge base between
the given two commits.

More generally, among the two commits to compute the merge
base from, one is specified by the first commit argument on
the command line; the other commit is a (possibly
hypothetical) commit that is a merge across all the
remaining commits on the command line.

As a consequence, the merge base is not necessarily
contained in each of the commit arguments if more than two
commits are specified. This is different from git‐show‐
branch(1) when used with the −−merge−base option.

     Compute the best common ancestors of all supplied
     commits, in preparation for an n−way merge. This mimics
     the behavior of git show−branch −−merge−base.

     Instead of printing merge bases, print a minimal subset
     of the supplied commits with the same ancestors. In
     other words, among the commits given, list those which
     cannot be reached from any other. This mimics the
     behavior of git show−branch −−independent.

     Check if the first <commit> is an ancestor of the
     second <commit>, and exit with status 0 if true, or


     with status 1 if not. Errors are signaled by a non−zero
     status that is not 1.

     Find the point at which a branch (or any history that
     leads to <commit>) forked from another branch (or any
     reference) <ref>. This does not just look for the
     common ancestor of the two commits, but also takes into
     account the reflog of <ref> to see if the history
     leading to <commit> forked from an earlier incarnation
     of the branch <ref> (see discussion on this mode

     −a, −−all
     Output all merge bases for the commits, instead of just

Given two commits A and B, git merge−base A B will output a
commit which is reachable from both A and B through the
parent relationship.

For example, with this topology:


the merge base between A and B is 1.

Given three commits A, B and C, git merge−base A B C will
compute the merge base between A and a hypothetical commit
M, which is a merge between B and C. For example, with this

          /   o−−−o−−−o−−−B
         /   /

the result of git merge−base A B C is 1. This is because the
equivalent topology with a merge commit M between B and C

           /                 \
          /   o−−−o−−−o−−−o−−−M
         /   /


and the result of git merge−base A M is 1. Commit 2 is also
a common ancestor between A and M, but 1 is a better common
ancestor, because 2 is an ancestor of 1. Hence, 2 is not a
merge base.

The result of git merge−base −−octopus A B C is 2, because 2
is the best common ancestor of all commits.

When the history involves criss−cross merges, there can be
more than one best common ancestor for two commits. For
example, with this topology:

         \ /
         / \

both 1 and 2 are merge−bases of A and B. Neither one is
better than the other (both are best merge bases). When the
−−all option is not given, it is unspecified which best one
is output.

A common idiom to check "fast−forward−ness" between two
commits A and B is (or at least used to be) to compute the
merge base between A and B, and check if it is the same as
A, in which case, A is an ancestor of B. You will see this
idiom used often in older scripts.

     A=$(git rev−parse −−verify A)
     if test "$A" = "$(git merge−base A B)"
             ... A is an ancestor of B ...

In modern git, you can say this in a more direct way:

     if git merge−base −−is−ancestor A B
             ... A is an ancestor of B ...


After working on the topic branch created with git switch −c
topic origin/master, the history of remote−tracking branch
origin/master may have been rewound and rebuilt, leading to
a history of this shape:

     −−−o−−−o−−−B1−−o−−−o−−−o−−−B (origin/master)


                D0−−−D1−−−D (topic)

where origin/master used to point at commits B0, B1, B2 and
now it points at B, and your topic branch was started on top
of it back when origin/master was at B0, and you built three
commits, D0, D1, and D, on top of it. Imagine that you now
want to rebase the work you did on the topic on top of the
updated origin/master.

In such a case, git merge−base origin/master topic would
return the parent of B0 in the above picture, but B0^..D is
not the range of commits you would want to replay on top of
B (it includes B0, which is not what you wrote; it is a
commit the other side discarded when it moved its tip from
B0 to B1).

git merge−base −−fork−point origin/master topic is designed
to help in such a case. It takes not only B but also B0, B1,
and B2 (i.e. old tips of the remote−tracking branches your
repository’s reflog knows about) into account to see on
which commit your topic branch was built and finds B0,
allowing you to replay only the commits on your topic,
excluding the commits the other side later discarded.


     $ fork_point=$(git merge−base −−fork−point origin/master topic)

will find B0, and

     $ git rebase −−onto origin/master $fork_point topic

will replay D0, D1 and D on top of B to create a new history
of this shape:

     −−−o−−−o−−−B1−−o−−−o−−−o−−−B (origin/master)
             \                   \
              B0                  D0'−−D1'−−D' (topic − updated)
                D0−−−D1−−−D (topic − old)

A caveat is that older reflog entries in your repository may
be expired by git gc. If B0 no longer appears in the reflog
of the remote−tracking branch origin/master, the
−−fork−point mode obviously cannot find it and fails,
avoiding to give a random and useless result (such as the
parent of B0, like the same command without the −−fork−point
option gives).


Also, the remote−tracking branch you use the −−fork−point
mode with must be the one your topic forked from its tip. If
you forked from an older commit than the tip, this mode
would not find the fork point (imagine in the above sample
history B0 did not exist, origin/master started at B1, moved
to B2 and then B, and you forked your topic at
origin/master^ when origin/master was B1; the shape of the
history would be the same as above, without B0, and the
parent of B1 is what git merge−base origin/master topic
correctly finds, but the −−fork−point mode will not, because
it is not one of the commits that used to be at the tip of

git‐rev‐list(1), git‐show‐branch(1), git‐merge(1)

Part of the git(1) suite