On Mon, Feb 20, 2023 at 09:27:20PM -0800, 'Samuel Stern' via Git for human 
beings wrote:

> This is an *extremely* specific question which I've been trying to get an 
> answer to for quite a while now, so hopefully someone here knows the answer.
> Let's say I am starting from nothing, an empty directory on a server. I 
> have:
>    - The URL for a public git repository
>    - Two endpoint SHAs (commits on the same branch)
> I want to get the complete diff between those commits *excluding* merge 
> commit changes, and I want to do this as fast as possible (so much faster 
> than cloning everything and diffing).
> I am able to get almost there with the following sequence:
> # Fast clone
> git clone --verbose --no-checkout --filter=blob:limit=250k --single-branch 
> --branch=${branch} --depth=${depth} $REPO_URL
> # Get a series of patches
> git log --no-merges --first-parent --patch ${base.sha}..${head.sha}
> However I need to get a *single* patch that represents all the changes 
> combined, not a series of patches from the log.

Isn't mere

  git diff ${head.sha} ${base.sha}

is what you're looking for?

Otherwise, I'm with Philipp in that your statements (rephrased)

 - I want to get a single combined change ("patch") describing the literal
   set of changes between such and such commits.

 - I want changes brought in by merge commits excluded.

Contradict each other: I could in principle envision some algorithm which
would try to incrementally produce a diff as in walks a chain of commits and
tries to ignore the changes introduced by merge commits located in that chain,
but leaving aside the fact such an algotithm would be very brittle for any
real-world cases, I simply see no use for it - even a theoretical one.

You might got trapped by the fact you have found `git log` first in your
search, and this command traverses all individual commits in the subgraph it's
told to traverse - including "sidelines" brought in by merge commits.
Instead, plain old `git diff` does not traverse anything: it takes two states
of the project and compares them.

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