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git-merge-base(1) Manual Page
git-merge-base - Find as good common ancestors as possible for a merge
git merge-base [-a|--all] [--octopus] <commit> <commit>... git merge-base --independent <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.
Unless --octopus is given, 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 the most common special case, specifying only two commits on the command line means computing the merge base between the given two commits.
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.
Output all merge bases for the commits, instead of just one.
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.
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:
o---o---o---B / ---o---1---o---o---o---A
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 topology:
o---o---o---o---C / / o---o---o---B / / ---2---1---o---o---o---A
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 is:
o---o---o---o---o / \ / o---o---o---o---M / / ---2---1---o---o---o---A
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.
When the history involves criss-cross merges, there can be more than one best common ancestor for two commits. For example, with this topology:
---1---o---A \ / X / \ ---2---o---o---B
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.
Part of the git(1) suite