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  C++ Programming Tutorials
Basics of C++

Structure of a program
Variables Data types
Basic Input/output

Control Structures
Control Structures
Functions (I)
Functions (II)

Compound Data Types
Character Sequences
Dynamic Memory
Data Structures
Other Data Types

Object Oriented Programming
Classes [I]
Classes [II]
Friendship & Inheritance

Advanced Concepts
Type Casting
Preprocessor Directives

C++ Standard Library
Input/output with Files

Soft Skills
Communication Skills
Leadership Skills




C++ Programming Tutorials

Once we know of the existence of variables and constants, we can begin to operate with them. For that purpose, C++ integrates operators. Unlike other languages whose operators are mainly keywords, operators in C++ are mostly made of signs that are not part of the alphabet but are available in all keyboards. This makes C++ code shorter and more international, since it relies less on English words, but requires a little of learning effort in the beginning.

You do not have to memorize all the content of this page. Most details are only provided to serve as a later reference in case you need it.

Assignment (=)
The assignment operator assigns a value to a variable.

a = 5;

This statement assigns the integer value 5 to the variable a. The part at the left of the assignment operator (=) is known as the lvalue (left value) and the right one as the rvalue (right value). The lvalue has to be a variable whereas the rvalue can be either a constant, a variable, the result of an operation or any combination of these.
The most important rule when assigning is the right-to-left rule: The assignment operation always takes place from right to left, and never the other way:

a = b;

This statement assigns to variable a (the lvalue) the value contained in variable b (the rvalue). The value that was stored until this moment in a is not considered at all in this operation, and in fact that value is lost.

Consider also that we are only assigning the value of b to a at the moment of the assignment operation. Therefore a later change of b will not affect the new value of a.

For example, let us have a look at the following code - I have included the evolution of the content stored in the variables as comments:

// assignment operator

#include <iostream>
using namespace std;

int main ()
int a, b; // a:?, b:?
a = 10; // a:10, b:?
b = 4; // a:10, b:4
a = b; // a:4, b:4
b = 7; // a:4, b:7

cout << "a:";
cout << a;
cout << " b:";
cout << b;

return 0;
a:4 b:7

This code will give us as result that the value contained in a is 4 and the one contained in b is 7. Notice how a was not affected by the final modification of b, even though we declared a = b earlier (that is because of the right-to-left rule).

A property that C++ has over other programming languages is that the assignment operation can be used as the rvalue (or part of an rvalue) for another assignment operation. For example:

a = 2 + (b = 5);

is equivalent to:

b = 5;
a = 2 + b;

that means: first assign 5 to variable b and then assign to a the value 2 plus the result of the previous assignment of b (i.e. 5), leaving a with a final value of 7.

The following expression is also valid in C++:

a = b = c = 5;

It assigns 5 to the all the three variables: a, b and c.

Arithmetic operators ( +, -, *, /, % )
The five arithmetical operations supported by the C++ language are:

+    addition
-    subtraction
*    multiplication
/    division
%   modulo

Operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division literally correspond with their respective mathematical operators. The only one that you might not be so used to see may be modulo; whose operator is the percentage sign (%). Modulo is the operation that gives the remainder of a division of two values. For example, if we write:

a = 11 % 3;

the variable a will contain the value 2, since 2 is the remainder from dividing 11 between 3.

Compound assignment (+=, -=, *=, /=, %=, >>=, <<=, &=, ^=, |=)
When we want to modify the value of a variable by performing an operation on the value currently stored in that variable we can use compound assignment operators:

    expression      is equivalent to
value += increase; value = value + increase;
a -= 5; a = a - 5;
a /= b; a = a / b;
price *= units + 1; price = price * (units + 1);

and the same for all other operators. For example:

// compound assignment operators

#include <iostream>
using namespace std;

int main ()
int a, b=3;
a = b;
a+=2; // equivalent to a=a+2
cout << a;
return 0;

NEXT >> Increase and Decrease (++, --)

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