1. A Ternary sitting on its nest, incubating its eggs.

2. An annoying idiom found in programming languages descended from C.

The C conditional operator (K&R2, page 208) is not really the ternary operator, but a ternary operator, in that it takes three operands. It just happens that C has only one operator that does that. It looks like this:

a ? b : c

. . . where a a boolean expression, and b and c are expressions that both evaluate to the same type (or at least close enough to satisfy the compiler). If a is nonzero, the expression returns b; otherwise, it returns c.

In other words, ( 0 ) ? 1 : 2 will return 2 and ( 1 ) ? 1 : 2 will return 1.

This is very handy and nifty, but there are 'leet programmers in this world who abuse the thing to write unreadable C code. For example, 1 ? 1 ? 2 & 3 : 4 ? 5 % 6 : 7 : 8 is a valid expression according to my compiler. It returns 2. what exactly is it doing? Good question! It's evaluated like this: 1 ? (1 ? (2 & 3) : (4 ? (5 % 6) : 7)) : 8. Indenting these things can clarify them even more:

( 1 )
     ? ( ( 1 )
              ? (2 & 3)
              : (4 ? (5 % 6) : 7) )
     : 8;


Of course, once you do that, it's not 'leet any more because it's readable by humans. It also starts looking suspiciously like LISP, in a superficial sort of a way.

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