An operator is a symbol within a mathematical expression that defines a specific operation. For example, the plus symbol (+) is an operator that represents addition.

Common operators include:

  • + (add)
  • - (subtract)
  • * or x (mulitply)
  • / or ÷ (divide)
  • % or mod (modulus)

Consider the calculation:

2 + 3 x 4 = 14

In the expression above, + and x are operators, while the numbers 2, 3, and 4 are operands. 14 is the result (since the x operand takes precedence over the + operand).

While operands are typically associated with mathematics, they also apply to computer science. For example, the function below contains two operators and three operands.

	$total = $x / 2 + 7;
	return $total;

The / and + symbols are operators, while the variable $x and the numbers 2 and 7 are operands. If x = 30, the expression will evaluate as (30 / 2) + 7, which will return a result of 22.

Updated July 20, 2022 by Per C.

quizTest Your Knowledge

Which of the following statements best describes cryptography?

It is the science of protecting information by transforming it into a secure format.
It is a structured way of implementing data redundancy.
It is a type of hacking that bypasses traditional authentication methods.
It is the study of how digital data transmissions affect geographic areas.
Correct! Incorrect!     View the Cryptography definition.
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