i'm new to php and am having difficulty translating this tiny awk
function that i use to comma format numbers.  can someone assist?  my
stumbling block thus far have been the fact the the php regex matching
functions don't return the byte offset within the haystack and the regex
replace functions don't support the awk and perl-like ampersand "&" in
the replacement pattern.  please help and thanks.

function commas(num) {
  while (num ~ /[0-9][0-9][0-9][0-9]/)
    sub (/[0-9][0-9][0-9]$|[0-9][0-9][0-9][,]/, ",&", num)

  return num

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