What are the most important C++ operators?

C++ operators are essential for programming with C++. Whether you are just beginning to learn C++ or have been working with the programming language for a while, operators can make programming simpler and more efficient. The function of some operators can be deduced from their name, while others may take some time to memorize.

What are C++ operators?

An operator is a sign for an operation, which is applied to at least one operand, but in most cases to several. This results in a new value in most cases. A popular example of these are the arithmetic operators you learn in school, for example, “+” for addition and “-” for subtraction.

C++ operators are not only distinguishable according to their functional purpose. The operator’s arity is also an important criterion:

Arity Number of operands Example
Unary operators One operand Logical negation: `!var_name`
Binary operators Two operand Addition: `value1 + value2`
Ternary operators Three operands If-else-condition: `condition? condition_true : condition_false`

What is operator precedence?

As with arithmetic operators in school or Python operators, there is an operator precedence for C++ operators. This specifies the order in which the operators should be evaluated. The dot before dash rule applies for arithmetic operators, however, there are other rules for other C++ operators.

``````if (var1 && var2 || var3) {
do_something();
}
``````
C++

The example above shows the logical expression being evaluated after the if operator. The && operator (logical And) has priority over the || operator (logical Or). So, if the evaluation of “var1 && var2” or the evaluation of “var3” returns “true”, the “do_something()” function call is executed.

You can also use brackets to be on the safe side.

You can overload most C++ operators. This means that you can assign a new meaning to an existing operator in a context. To perform an operator overload in C++, you need the keyword “operator”. When overloading, this keyword should be put before the C++ operator. Operator overloading in C++ will behave like function overloading.

Tip

Webspace hosting from IONOS is perfect for backing up your C++ projects online. You can install it with just one click.

An overview of C++ operators

Arithmetic operators

You probably already know the arithmetic C++ operators from school. They operate on numbers and return a new number. The arithmetic operators are all binary operators, except for the unary plus and unary minus.

C++ operator Meaning Example
`+` Addition / unary plus `6 + 4`
`-` Subtraction / unary minus `10 - 6`
`*` Multiplication `10* 3`
`/` Integer division `20 / 10`
`%` Modulo `21 % 2`

Assignment operators

Similar to other programming languages, values are stored in variables. You need special operators to assign concrete values to these variables.

Simple assignment operators

C++ operator Meaning Example
`=` Simple assignment `x = 3`
`++` Increment `x++`
`--` Decrement `x--`

Combined assignment operators

In addition to the simple assignment operators, C++ also supports combined operators. These are arithmetic or bitwise operations which are simultaneously combined with a value assignment:

``````int x = 4;
x += 2;
``````
C++

The code example above shows that the variable x assigned the numeric value 4 with a simple assignment. The combined assignment operator “+=” is used to perform an arithmetic addition after this and saves the resulting value directly in x. The assignment would be “x = x + 2” after being written out.

C++ operator Meaning Example
`+=` Addition and assignment `x += 2`
`-=` Subtraction and assignment `x -= 2`
`*=` Multiplication and assignment `x* = 2`
`/=` Division and assignment `x /= 2`
`%=` Modulo and assignment `x %= 2`
`&=` Bitwise And and assignment `b &= 1`
`<<=` Bitshift left and assignment `b <<= 1`
`>>=` Bitshift right and assignment `b >>= 1`
^= Bitwise Xor and assignment `b ^= 1`
` =` Bitwise Or and assignment

Logical C++ operators

You can use the C++ logical operators for propositional comparisons of two expressions. Logical operators are binary, except for the Logical Not, which only refers to one statement and negates its truth value.

C++ operator Meaning Example
`&&` Logical And `true && true`
` `
`!` Logical Not `!true`

Comparison operators

Comparison operators are C++ operators that examine the relationship between two elements. They are binary, except for the three-way comparison, which returns a number. The return value of all C++ comparison operators is a truth value.

C++ operator Meaning Example
`==` Equality `a == b`
`!=` Inequality `a != b`
`<=` Smaller or equal `a <= b`
`>=` Greater or equal `a >= b`
`<` Smaller `a < b`
`>` Larger `a > b`
`<=>` Three-way comparison `a <=> b`

Bit manipulation

Bitwise C++ operators access individual bits efficiently and improve the speed of programs. They are especially important for performance-oriented programming.

C++ operator Meaning Example
`&` Bitwise And `a & b`
` ` Bitwise Or
`^` Bitwise Xor `a ^ b`
`~` Bitwise negation `~a`
`<<` Left shift `a << b`
`>>` Right shift `a >> b`

Memory management

C++ is a machine-oriented language and has a several operators for memory management.

C++ operator Meaning Example
`&` Address determination `&x`
`sizeof()` Determines the memory requirement of an expression `sizeof(x) `
`new` Creates a new object and returns pointer `object* pointer = new object()`
`delete` Destroys an object `delete object`

Data access for objects and pointers

The following C++ operators will help you access individual members of objects or the memory areas of pointers.

C++ operator Meaning Example
`*` Dereferencing pointers, returns memory area `*pointer = 3; `
`.` Accesses members of an object `object.member = 2; `
`->` Accesses members of an object with a pointer `objectpointer->member = 2; `
We use cookies on our website to provide you with the best possible user experience. By continuing to use our website or services, you agree to their use. More Information.