Operator Precedence

In this post, we are going to talk about the precedence of operators. I want to demonstrate it with one of our previous codes. Also, in a typical math course, you might have come across bracket notation and BODMAS rules for solving various problems, but in a programming language, how this is done?

const now = 2021;
const akhilAge = now - 1996;
const narutoAge = now - 2001;

console.log(akhilAge, narutoAge); // 25 20

// Discussion on Operation Precedence
console.log(now - 1996 > now - 2001) // true
In the last line, why both the substractions now - 1996 and now - 2001 are executed before the > comparison. 

The question is, why does now - 1996 > now - 2021 work. It works because javascript has a well-defined order of the operator precedence, i.e., the order in which operations are executed. And to see the precedence of all the different operators, you can check out this convenient precedence table.

But to summarise a few widely used operators, the grouping has the highest precedence of 21, and followed by Math operators with precedence of 17, then comparison operators with precedence of 12 and 13. Logic Operators from 10 to 6 followed by conditional and assignment at 4 and 3 respectively.

Of course, there is no need for you to remember this precedence; no one does! But the idea here is that you should have a general idea about which operators would come first. A broader perspective would be something like this; grouping > math > comparision > logic > condition > assignment.

In fact, here you can see that the precedence of math > comparision. This solves our question of now - 1996 > now - 2001; this is synonymous to 2021 -1996 > 2021 - 2001 then according to precedence, first comes the math operators so it will result in 25 > 20 now followed by comparison operator resulting in a boolean true.

This precedence table also consists of the order of execution, which sometimes comes in handy. So if required, you can always refer to the documentation. Also. remember this course will not only help you with basic knowledge but also will help you reading documentations.

// Sum will be executed left to right
console.log(25 + 15 - 10); // 30

// Assignment will be executed right to left
let x, y; // x and y are undefined
x = y = 25 + 15 - 10;
console.log(x, y); // 30 30
The assignment operator will be executed from right to left.

Let's assume that the assignment operator is executed from right to left. This x = y = 25 + 15 - 10 can be split into x = y and y = 25 + 15 - 10 with x and y being undefined; As we are assuming the operation is executed left to right x will be undefined and y will be equals to 30. But this is not the case.

The assignment operator is executed from right to left; meaning the value of 25 + 15 -10, i.e., 30 will be assigned to y and this new value of y which is 30 will be assigned to x. Resulting in both x and y as 30.

To be more precise, when javascript looks at this piece of code x = y = 25 + 15 -2 10, javascript will look into all the operators it contains and decides upon what to be executed first. As we already saw that math > assignment; you know what's going to happen, i.e., x = y = 30. Now when it comes to the assignment operator it will be executed from right to left, i.e., y = 30 and then x = y where y is 30 resulting in x = 30.

// Not javascript code, just an explination

// section of code we are focusing on
let x, y; // x and y are undefined
x = y = 25 + 15 - 10;

// math (left to right) > assignment (right to left)
// Step 01, math has higher precedence over assignment
25 + 15 - 10
20 + 5
30

// step 02, remaining operators are just assignment (right to left)
x = y = 30

// step 03 (focus in right part of x = y = 30)
y = 30 // y reassigned to 30 from undefined, but x is still undefined

// step 04 ((focus in left part of x = y = 30))
x = y // y is 30 from step 03
x = 30 // x reassigned it's value from undefined to 30
Not javascript code, but demonstrates how the code is being executed.
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