What Does Operator Mean?

An operator, in computer programing, is a symbol that usually represents an action or process. These symbols were adapted from mathematics and logic. An operator is capable of manipulating a certain value or operand.


Operators are the backbone of any program and they are used for everything from very simple functions like counting to complex algorithms like security encryption.

Techopedia Explains Operator

There are several classifications of operators and each of them can have one or more operands, a specific data that is to be manipulated.

  • Assignment Operator: This refers to the "=" (equals) sign and assigns a variable. A variable is the framework of the information.
  • Arithmetic Operators: These include "+" (addition), "-" (subtraction), "*" (multiplication), "/" (division), "" (integer division), "Mod" (Modulo) and "^" (exponentiation).
  • Boolean Operators: These make use of "And" (logical conjunction), "AndAlso" (short circuit And), "OrElse" (short circuit Or), "Or" (logical inclusion), "Not" (negation) and "Xor" (logical inclusion). These symbols are also known as logical operators.
  • Relational Operators: These include ">" (greater than), "<" (lesser than), ">=" (greater than or equal to), "<=" (lesser than or equal to), "==" (equal to), "<>" (not equal to), and "Is" (comparing references). These symbols are used to evaluate variables.
  • Bitwise Operators: These are used in manipulating bits of a binary value and are not always used in programming. These include the symbols "Not" (bitwise negation), "Xor" (bitwise exclusive or), "And" (bitwise and), and "Or" (bitwise or).

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Margaret Rouse

Margaret 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 IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.