Strangely Consistent

Theory, practice, and languages, braided together

June 14 2011: Logic operators

We all know about if statements and true/false values by now.

if 2 + 2 == 4 {
    say "Yay, math still works!";

But sometimes we need to check that two things are both true:

my $coin = ("heads", "tails").roll;
my $die  = (1..6).roll;

if $coin eq "heads" && $die == 6 {
    say "You, sir or madam, are a lucky person.";

Or sometimes we want to check that at least one of two things is true:

my $pram = (True, False).roll;
my $jetski = (True, False).roll;

if $pram || $jetski {
    say "Seems we'll be able to get over the river...";

That's all quite straightforward. Logic usually is.

The only thing worth remembering is that && and || are short-circuiting, which means that the evaluation of values stops as soon as the final truth value is certain. Here's a demonstration of how that works:

True  && say "OH HAI";                # "OH HAI"
False && say "this isn't printed";    # ""

True  || say "this isn't printed";    # ""
False || say "OH HAI AGAIN";          # "OH HAI AGAIN"

So, again, the rule is that if we need to evaluate the right part of the expression to know the value, we do. If we don't need to, we don't.

If you're wondering about, between || and &&, which operator "wins" and binds its values the tightest, I'll tell you: it's &&. This is because && is the "multiplicative one, and || is the additive one. And the multiplicative operator always binds tighter:

 additive op    multiplicative op

     +                  *           numeric
     ~                  x           string
     ||                 &&          logic

binds loosely     binds tightly

You might be wondering why the || and && are doubled. That's because we're saving the single-character variants for something much cuter... instead of doing this:

if $answer == 1 || $answer == 4 || $answer == 9 {
    say "That's a pretty square reply.";

We can get rid of a bunch of repetition and do this:

if $answer == 1 | 4 | 9 {
    say "That's a pretty square reply.";

I assume you can see the usefulness of that. :-)

Tomorrow we'll do a game, with chocolate in it!