[whatwg] 2.3 editorial: operators, operations, or ?

Elliotte Rusty Harold elharo at ibiblio.org
Sat Aug 15 06:16:38 PDT 2009

On Sat, Aug 15, 2009 at 4:40 AM, Ian Hickson<ian at hixie.ch> wrote:
> On Mon, 10 Aug 2009, Elliotte Rusty Harold wrote:
>> "This specification defines several comparison operators for strings."
>> Really, operators? Is this the right word here? Maybe it should be
>> "several comparison operations on strings" or "several possible
>> comparisons for strings.
> What's wrong with operators? They are literally functions that the rest of
> the spec uses, it seems like the right word here.

A function is not an operator. According to Wikipedia, "In
mathematics, an operator is a function which operates on (or modifies)
another function." A comparison is an operation on strings (data), not
on other functions.

In traditional programming languages such as Java and C, an operator
is usually a language defined symbol, and occasionally a user defined
symbol. That also doesn't apply here. For instance, in Java,
"operators are special symbols that perform specific operations on
one, two, or three operands, and then return a result."

What you're describing is likely a function or perhaps an operation,
but I don't think it's an operator in the commonly understood senses
of the term amongst the people likely to be reading this spec.

Elliotte Rusty Harold
elharo at ibiblio.org

More information about the whatwg mailing list