Negation - Programming


As in mathematics, negation is used in computer science to construct logical statements.

if (!(r == t)) { /*...statements executed when r does NOT equal t...*/ }

The "!" signifies logical NOT in B, C, and languages with a C-inspired syntax such as C++, Java, JavaScript, Perl, and PHP. "NOT" is the operator used in ALGOL 60, BASIC, and languages with an ALGOL- or BASIC-inspired syntax such as Pascal, Ada, Eiffel and Seed7. Some languages (C++, Perl, etc.) provide more than one operator for negation. A few languages like PL/I and Ratfor use ¬ for negation. Some modern computers and operating systems will display ¬ as ! on files encoded in ASCII. Most modern languages allow the above statement to be shortened from if (!(r == t)) to if (r != t), which allows sometimes, when the compiler/interpreter is not able to optimize it, faster programs.

In computer science there is also bitwise negation. This takes the value given and switches all the binary 1s to 0s and 0s to 1s. See bitwise operation. This is often used to create ones' complement or "~" in C or C++ and two's complement (just simplified to "-" or the negative sign since this is equivalent to taking the arithmetic negative value of the number) as it basically creates the opposite (negative value equivalent) or mathematical complement of the value (where both values are added together they create a whole).

To get the absolute (positive equivalent) value of a given integer the following would work as the "-" changes it from negative to positive (it is negative because "x < 0" yields true)

unsigned int abs(int x) { if (x < 0) return -x; else return x; }

To demonstrate logical negation:

unsigned int abs(int x) { if (!(x < 0)) return x; else return -x; }

Inverting the condition and reversing the outcomes produces code that is logically equivalent to the original code, i.e. will have identical results for any input (note that depending on the compiler used, the actual instructions performed by the computer may differ).

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