JavaScript Operators¶
We know many operators from school: addition +, multiplication *, subtraction -, and so on. In this chapter, we will talk about the aspects of operators that are not covered by school arithmetic.
Terms: “unary”, “binary”, “operand”¶
There is some terminology, which you should know before going on.
- An operand means what operators are applied to. For example, in the multiplication of 4 * 2 there are two operands: the left operand is 4 and the right operand is 2.
- If an operator has a single operand it is unary. For example, theunary negation - opposites the sign of a number:
let x = 2; x = -x; console.log(x); // -2, here was applied unary negation
- If an operator has two operands it is binary. The same minus also exists in binary form:
let x = 2, y = 3;
console.log(y - x); // 1, binary minus subtracts values
There are two different operators in the examples above, which share the same symbol: the negation operator, a unary operator, and the subtraction operator.
String concatenation, binary +¶
These special features of JavaScript operators are beyond school arithmetics.
Generally the plus operator + sums numbers, but if the binary + is applied to strings, merging them:
let str = "my" + "string";
console.log(str); // mystring
console.log( '2' + 3 ); // "23"
console.log( 3 + '2' ); // "32"
Both the first operand or the second can be strings. The rule is simple anyway: if one of the operands is a string, the other one is converted into a string too.
Please, note that operations run from left to right and if there are two numbers which followed by a string, they will be added before being converted to a string:
console.log(3 + 2 + '1' ); // "51" and not "321"
String concatenation is one of the special features of the binary plus + . Other arithmetic operators work only with numbers converting their operands to numbers (subtraction, division).
console.log( 2 - '1' ); // 1
console.log( '6' / '2' ); // 3
Numeric conversion, unary +¶
The plus + operator exists in two forms: the binary form and the unary form.
The plus operator + applied to a single value and it does not do anything to numbers. But when the operand is not a number, the unary + will convert it into a number:
// this doesn’t effect numbers
let x = 1;
console.log( +x ); // 1
let y = -2;
console.log( +y ); // -2
// converts not numbers
console.log( +true ); // 1
console.log( +"" ); // 0
Assignment =¶
We use the assignment operator (=) to assign a value to the JavaScript variable, it always returns a value. It is obvious for most of them like addition + or multiplication *.
let x = 3 * 2 + 1;
console.log( x ); // 7
Remainder %¶
The remainder operator % does not have anything related to percents, the result of a % b is the remainder of the integer division of a by b.
console.log( 7 % 2 ); // 1 is a remainder of 7 divided by 3
console.log( 11 % 3 ); // 2 is a remainder of 11 divided by 3
console.log( 12 % 3 ); // 0 is a remainder of 12 divided by 4
Exponentiation **¶
The exponentiation operator ** was recently added to the language. For a number b, the result of a ** b is a multiplied by itself b times:
console.log( 3 ** 2 ); // 9 (3 * 3)
console.log( 3 ** 3 ); // 27 (3 * 3 * 3)
console.log( 3 ** 4 ); // 81 (3 * 3 * 3 * 3)
The operator works also for non-integer numbers:
console.log( 9 ** (1/2) ); // 3 (power of 1/2 is the same as a square root)
console.log( 27 ** (1/3) ); // 3 (power of 1/3 is the same as a cubic root)
Increment/decrement¶
Increasing or decreasing a number by 1 is one of the most common numerical operations. There are special operators for it:
- Increment ++ increases a variable by 1:
let counter = 10; counter++; // it's a counter = counter + 1 // it will be shorter console.log( counter ); // 11
- Decrement -- decreases a variable by 1:
let counter = 10; counter--; //it's a counter = counter - 1 // it is shorter console.log( counter ); // 9
Increment or decrement can only be applied to variables, so If we try to use it on a value like 6++ it will give an error.
We can place the operators ++ and -- before or after a variable.
- When the operator is after the variable, it is in “postfix form” : counter++.
- When the operator is before the variable, it is in “prefix form” : ++counter.
These two statements do the same thing: increase counter by 1.
let counter = 1;
let a = ++counter;
console.log(a); // 2
Increment/decrement among other operators¶
The operators ++/-- can also be used inside expressions. Their priority is higher than most other arithmetical operations.
Let’s compare these two examples:
let counter = 2;
console.log( 2 * ++counter ); // 6
and
let counter = 2;
console.log( 2 * counter++ ); // 4, because counter++ returns the "old" value
Technically they are okay, but this notation usually makes code less readable. One line does multiple things, what is not good.
During reading code, a fast “vertical” eye-scan can easily miss something like counter++ and it won’t be obvious that the variable increased. That’s why we advise a style of “one line – one action”:
let counter = 1;
console.log( 2 * counter );//2
counter++;
console.log( counter );//2