Prime624 Prime624 - 2 years ago 103
Java Question

Is it better to use x >= 0 or x > -1

I haven't been able to find this seemingly simple question answered anywhere. Is it better to compare an integer to 0 by using x >= 0 or x > -1?

I'm sure it doesn't make a noticeable difference either way, however it would be interesting to understand the inner workings better. I'm specifically talking about Java, but if other languages are different, it would be interesting to know. When I say better, I mean in terms of efficiency, as obviously, x >= 0 is easier to read.

Answer Source

It actually doesn't matter in this case. The difference between x >= 0 and x > -1 is irrelevant when dealing with integers.

Now, that isn't to say there is no difference at all. >= checks for "greater than or equal to", whereas > checks only for "greater than". Now, if you were dealing with floating-point numbers as well as integers here, then you would definitely want to use x >= 0, as x > -1 would evaluate to true for any negative x value where -1 < x < 0, as well as for 0 and positive numbers.

Now, I would personally recommend that, in any case where you have to choose between >= and > (or <= and <), you choose the one that would be correct when working with floating-point numbers. Even though it technically doesn't matter when dealing strictly with integers, it is good practice to always consider the difference between the two when using them, even in cases where using either would result in the same outcome.

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