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Special operator in C

In the C programming language, special operators are used to perform specific operations that cannot be done with normal arithmetic or logical operators. These operators are special because they have their own unique syntax and functionality. In this blog post, we will explore some of the most used special operators in C, including the ternary, bitwise, and comma operators.

Ternary Operator

The ternary operator is also referred to as the conditional operator. It is used to determine whether a condition is true or false. If the condition is true, it returns one result, and if it is false, it returns a different value.


The syntax of the ternary operator is as follows:


Here's an example that uses the ternary operator to determine whether a number is even or odd:


7 is odd


In this example, the condition num % 2 == 0 is evaluated. If it is true (i.e., num is even), the value "even" is returned. If it is false (i.e., num is odd), the value "odd" is returned.

Bitwise Operators

Bitwise operators are utilized to conduct operations on individual bits within a number. There are six bitwise operators in C: AND (&), OR (|), XOR (^), left shift (<<), right shift (>>), and complement (~).


Here's an example that demonstrates how to use the bitwise AND operator to clear a bit in a number:


The new value of num is 9


In this example, the bitwise AND operator (&) is used to clear the second bit in the number num. To do this, we first shift the value 1 left by bit positions (i.e., 2), resulting in the value 4 (binary: 00000100). After that, we take the complement of this value using the bitwise complement operator (~), resulting in the value -5 (binary: 11111011). Finally, we use the AND operator (&) with num to clear the second bit.

Comma Operator

The comma operator is utilized to evaluate multiple expressions and return the value of the last expression.


The syntax of the comma operator is as follows:


Here's an example that demonstrates how to use the comma operator to increment two variables:


a = 3, b = 4


In this example, the comma operator is used to increment the values of a and b by one. The expressions a++ and b++ are evaluated from left to right, and the value of the last expression (b++) is returned.

Moreover, special operators can also help in enhancing the code performance by decreasing the number of lines of code and improving its readability. For instance, using the ternary operator instead of an if-else statement can make the code shorter and easier to understand. Similarly, the use of bitwise operators can lead to faster execution times when working with large sets of binary data.

It is important to understand the syntax and functionality of these special operators to use them effectively. By using them correctly, programmers can simplify their code and make it more efficient. Special operators are a powerful tool in the arsenal of any C programmer, and their mastery can greatly improve one's programming skills.


In conclusion, special operators in C are powerful tools that allow programmers to perform complex operations easily. The ternary operator is useful for performing conditional operations, bitwise operators are essential for working with binary data, and the comma operator is handy for evaluating multiple expressions in a single statement.

It's important to use these operators judiciously as they can make code complex to read and understand if utilized excessively. As with any programming construct, it's important to balance conciseness and clarity.

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