Operator Precedence: A Long-Time Form of Discrimination

Operator Precedence: A Long-Time Form of Discrimination

Operator precedence has been a long-time form of discrimination.  This bias is so ingrained that if you’re under 35, you probably don’t even notice it.  But it’s there and has been around for at least 50 years.

You know what operator precedence means.  The equation a + b*c will calculate b*c first, then add a.  We take it for granted that 2 + 3*4 is 14.  But why not 20?  (Using the discriminatory operator precedence, (2 + 3)*4 = 20.) Logically, shouldn’t we simply proceed from left to right, performing operations as they occur?  That implies that we first add 2 to 3, then multiply the sum by 4.  But, no.  Operator precedence discrimination gives priority to multiplication and division.  (Actually, the first operation performed is exponentiation so 4*3^2 = 36, not 144 as it would in a bias-free world.)  Only after multiplication and division have been completed are addition and subtraction allowed.  What a terrible situation.

I appeal to everyone to eliminate this discrimination against the badly-treated + and *.  Let us overthrow the tyranny of operator precedence and return to a more logical realm.

(Note: for those who prefer right-to-left calculation, I support your efforts, too.)

1 Comment

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