Ternary Operators in Java: An Efficient Way to Write Shorter and Concise Code

Danielle Ellis
Danielle Ellis



Picture a scenario where you are tasked with programming a feature for your new application, but writing the necessary code feels like an overwhelmingly tiresome ordeal.

Woman with tablet learning about ternary operators in Java

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Instead of spending too much time churning out extra lines powered by traditional logic operators, consider taking advantage of more efficient solutions such as the ternary operator and its many benefits. This post explores how to use Java's ternary operator and how it could help you write shorter & more concise code that would still be effective when meeting all objectives - with no loss in functionality or clarity.

What Is Ternary Operator in Java?

In Java, an operator is a special symbol that performs operations on one or more operands (variables or values) and produces a result. For instance, a plus sign (+) is an operator that adds values together. Java has numerous operators categories, including arithmetic, logical, assignment, and ternary operators.

The ternary operator (also known as the conditional operator) is a type of Java operator that evaluates Boolean expressions and returns one of two values based on the result of its evaluation.

In other words, it operates using three operands (the third being the ternary itself), hence the name "ternary." This means that you can use it to replace certain types of if-then statements within your codebase - leading to shorter & more readable code that still gets all tasks done.

Ternary Operator Syntax

The ternary operator has the following syntax:

condition ? expression1 : expression2

This reads as "If condition is true, return expression1; otherwise, return expression2." The symbols used are question marks and colons. This indicates that it's a ternary rather than any other type of operator.

Now that you have an understanding of what a ternary operator is and how it works, the next step is learning how to use it.

How to Use the Java Ternary Operator & Examples

The ternary operator is handy when implementing certain types of conditional logic in fewer lines of code. Here's a look at an example of how to use it:

First, let's consider this if-then statement:

if (condition) { System.out.println("condition is true"); } else { System.out.println("condition is false"); }

This statement uses an if-then structure to evaluate a condition and print out a message based on the result of that evaluation. To implement this same logic using the ternary operator, you would write:

System.out.println(condition ? "condition is true" : "condition is false");

This ternary statement does the same job as the if-then statement in fewer lines of code and with a more compact syntax that's easier to read and understand.

Here's another example of how to use a ternary operator rather an the if-then statement in Java:

int max; if (a > b) { max = a; } else { max = b; }

This code uses the traditional if-then statement to determine which of two values is greater. The code above can be rewritten using a ternary operator like so:

int max = (a > b) ? a : b;

Here, 'max' will be given the value of 'a' if it's greater than 'b'; otherwise, set the value of 'max' to 'b.'

Write Shorter Code Using Ternary Operators

The ternary operator is a valuable tool in Java programming. It streamlines certain types of if-then statements, helping you write more concise code that better meets all objectives. And because its syntax is relatively straightforward and easy to understand, you can use it confidently and proficiently within your own programming projects.

Now that you better understand how to use the ternary operator in Java, you'll be able to implement it with greater ease - leading to shorter and more readable code.

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Topics: Java

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