What is the result of 'typeof NaN' in JavaScript?

Understanding 'typeof NaN' in JavaScript

The JavaScript typeof operator is a convenient tool that allows developers to determine the data type of a given variable or value. When applied to NaN, typeof NaN, it surprisingly results in 'number'.

The 'NaN' Value and Its Type

In JavaScript, NaN stands for 'Not a Number'. It's a special value that indicates the result of an operation that doesn't logically produce a number. For example, if you attempted to subtract a string from a number, JavaScript isn't able to come up with a numerical result, so it assigns the operation a value of NaN.

Let's consider a simple example:

let result = 'cat' - 7;
console.log(result);  // Prints: NaN

Despite its name, in JavaScript, NaN is actually considered a number. This might seem counterintuitive, because NaN means 'Not a Number', but it's part of the ECMAScript standard, which JavaScript follows.

Here is a confirmation example:

console.log(typeof NaN);  // Prints: 'number'

Practical Examples and Applications

The result of typeof NaN returning 'number' can have practical implications in your code. For example, you may have a function that checks if a value is a number before performing numeric operations. If you use typeof to make your check, NaN will pass - potentially leading to bugs or wrong results.

To safely check for a number and exclude NaN, you might opt for something like:

function isNumber(value) {
  return typeof value === 'number' && !isNaN(value);

With this function, NaN will return false, while legitimate numbers will return true.

Best Practices and Additional Insights

Although the fact that JavaScript considers NaN a number can be confusing, understanding this aspect of the language is important for anticipating and preventing potential bugs in your code.

Remember, JavaScript is a loosely typed language and NaN is a tricky case where what you see ('Not a Number') is not what you get when using typeof ('number'). Therefore, always use specific methods or combinations to validate data types and handle exceptional cases like NaN.

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