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4.10.1 Logical AND (&&)

4.10.1 Logical AND (&&)

The && operator can be understood at three different levels. At the simplest level, when used with boolean operands, && performs the Boolean AND operation on the two values: it returns true if and only if both its first operand and its second operand are true. If one or both of these operands is false, it returns false. && is often used as a conjunction to join two relational expressions:

x == 0 && y == 0 // true if, and only if x and y are both 0

Relational expressions always evaluate to true or false, so when used like this, the && operator itself returns true or false. Relational operators have higher precedence than && (and ||), so expressions like these can safely be written without parentheses.

But && does not require that its operands be boolean values. Recall that all JavaScript values are either “truthy” or “falsy.” (See §3.3 for details. The falsy values are false,

4.10 Logical Expressions | 75

null, undefined, 0, -0, NaN, and "". All other values, including all objects, are truthy.) The second level at which &&can be understood is as a Boolean AND operator for truthy and falsy values. If both operands are truthy, the operator returns a truthy value. Otherwise, one or both operands must be falsy, and the operator returns a falsy value. In JavaScript, any expression or statement that expects a boolean value will work with a truthy or falsy value, so the fact that && does not always return true or false does not cause practical problems.

Notice that the description above says that the operator returns “a truthy value” or “a falsy value,” but does not specify what that value is. For that, we need to describe && at the third and final level. This operator starts by evaluating its first operand, the expression on its left. If the value on the left is falsy, the value of the entire expression must also be falsy, so && simply returns the value on the left and does not even evaluate the expression on the right.

On the other hand, if the value on the left is truthy, then the overall value of the expression depends on the value on the right-hand side. If the value on the right is truthy, then the overall value must be truthy, and if the value on the right is falsy, then the overall value must be falsy. So when the value on the left is truthy, the && operator evaluates and returns the value on the right:

var o = { x : 1 }; var p = null;

o && o.x // => 1: o is truthy, so return value of o.x p && p.x // => null: p is falsy, so return it and don't evaluate p.x

It is important to understand that && may or may not evaluate its right-side operand. In the code above, the variable p is set to null, and the expression p.x would, if evaluated, cause a TypeError. But the code uses && in an idiomatic way so that p.x is evaluated only if p is truthy—not null or undefined.

The behavior of && is sometimes called “short circuiting,” and you may sometimes see code that purposely exploits this behavior to conditionally execute code. For example, the following two lines of JavaScript code have equivalent effects:

if (a == b) stop(); // Invoke stop() only if a == b (a == b) && stop(); // This does the same thing

In general, you must be careful whenever you write an expression with side effects (assignments, increments, decrements, or function invocations) on the right-hand side of &&. Whether those side effects occur depends on the value of the left-hand side.

Despite the somewhat complex way that this operator actually works, it is most commonly used as a simple Boolean algebra operator that works on truthy and falsy values.

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