O'Reilly logo

Programming Perl, 3rd Edition by Jon Orwant, Tom Christiansen, Larry Wall

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

Chapter 3. Unary and Binary Operators

In the last chapter, we talked about the various kinds of terms you might use in an expression, but to be honest, isolated terms are a bit boring. Many terms are party animals. They like to have relationships with each other. The typical young term feels strong urges to identify with and influence other terms in various ways, but there are many different kinds of social interaction and many different levels of commitment. In Perl, these relationships are expressed using operators.

Sociology has to be good for something.

From a mathematical perspective, operators are just ordinary functions with special syntax. From a linguistic perspective, operators are just irregular verbs. But as any linguist will tell you, the irregular verbs in a language tend to be the ones you use most often. And that's important from an information theory perspective because the irregular verbs tend to be shorter and more efficient in both production and recognition.

In practical terms, operators are handy.

Operators come in various flavors, depending on their arity (how many operands they take), their precedence (how hard they try to take those operands away from surrounding operators), and their associativity (whether they prefer to do things right to left or left to right when associated with operators of the same precedence).

Perl operators come in three arities: unary, binary, and trinary (or ternary, if your native tongue is Shibboleth). Unary operators ...

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required