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.

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