Arithmetic Operator

What Does Arithmetic Operator Mean?

An arithmetic operator is a mathematical function that takes two operands and performs a calculation on them. They are used in common arithmetic and most computer languages contain a set of such operators that can be used within equations to perform a number of types of sequential calculation. Basic arithmetic operators include:

  • Addition (+)
  • Subtraction (-)
  • Multiplication (×)
  • Division (÷)

Computers use different symbols in programming to represent multiplication (*) and division (/). More complex operators such as square root (√) also act as arithmetic operators but the basic plus, minus, multiply and divide are the fundamental operators.

Techopedia Explains Arithmetic Operator

Arithmetic operators have been used in mathematics formulas and numeric calculations for centuries. They form the basis for determining the outcome of calculated numbers or products. Their use is linear; each operator is performed in sequence, with multiplication and division taking place before addition and subtraction.

Arithmetic symbols such as the % have different meanings when used in computing and are dependent on the language in question. Arithmetic operators are responsible for performing most calculations that use values such as: Although labeled arithmetic operators, these operators are used in algebra and a number of other mathematical concepts, but retain the same function wherever they are used.


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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…