Varun Rao - 6 months ago 25

Python Question

`a=5;b=10;a----------------++++++++++++++++++b`

# Output: 15

The above is the output of a python script.

Could you please explain how it works? I was quite surprised that it works and gives an answer!!

However a similar such expression doesn't work in Java,C,C++

For instance:

`a=10;`

b=5;

System.out.println(a---b);//error!!

cout<<a---b;//error

printf("%d\n",a---b);//error

Does this have something to do with the compiler - lexical analyser/syntactical analyser?

I understand there is a "leftmost, eager and greedy" approach taken by compilers, but I dont exactly understand how that works in this case.

Answer

In Python, that's

```
a - ---------------++++++++++++++++++b
```

that is, subtracting `---------------++++++++++++++++++b`

from `a`

.

The prefix `-`

, negation, changes the sign of a number, the prefix `+`

does nothing.

Example:

```
>>> -+2
-2
>>> +-2
-2
>>> --2
2
```

Since there are 15 negations, `a - ---------------++++++++++++++++++b`

is equivalent to `a - -b`

, which is `a + b`

.

Java, C, and C++ have prefix and postfix `--`

and `++`

(decrement and increment) operators, and by the "maximal munch rule", your expression would read as

```
(((((((((((((((((a--)--)--)--)--)--)--)--)++)++)++)++)++)++)++)++)++) b
```

which, even if those operations on `a`

were legal, would be as much nonsense as `a b`

is.

(Note that `a---b`

is valid; it means `a-- - b`

.)

Details about the workings of the increment and decrement operators can be found in any suitable book.