Concept

Expression (informatique)

Résumé
In computer science, an expression is a syntactic entity in a programming language that may be evaluated to determine its value. It is a combination of one or more constants, variables, functions, and operators that the programming language interprets (according to its particular rules of precedence and of association) and computes to produce ("to return", in a stateful environment) another value. This process, for mathematical expressions, is called evaluation. In simple settings, the resulting value is usually one of various primitive types, such as string, boolean, or numerical (such as integer, floating-point, or complex). Expressions are often contrasted with statements—syntactic entities that have no value (an instruction). 2 + 3 is both an arithmetic and programming expression, which evaluates to 5. A variable is an expression because it denotes a value in memory, so y + 6 is also an expression. An example of a relational expression is 4 ≠ 4, which evaluates to false. In C and most C-derived languages, a call to a function with a void return type is a valid expression, of type void. Values of type void cannot be used, so the value of such an expression is always thrown away. In many programming languages, a function, and hence an expression containing a function, may have side effects. An expression with side effects does not normally have the property of referential transparency. In many languages (e.g. C++), expressions may be ended with a semicolon (;) to turn the expression into an expression statement. This asks the implementation to evaluate the expression for its side-effects only and to disregard the result of the expression (e.g. ) unless it is a part of an expression statement that induces side-effects (e.g. or ). The formal notion of a side effect is a change to the abstract state of the running program. Another class of side effects are changes to the concrete state of the computational system, such as loading data into cache memories.
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