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PEAR stands for PHP Extension and Application Repository.The idea behind the Pear was to be able to reuse the existing code and packages, to promote a standard coding style throughout. It also provided a way to install PECL(PHP Extension Community Library) extensions.
In many ways it is similar to 'Composer'(php's de facto package and dependency manager).Just as Composer downloads and installs packages from packagist.com . Pear downloads packages from pear.php.net.