javascript tutorial - [Solved-5 Solutions] What is the explanation for these bizarre javascript behaviours mentioned in the ‘Wat’ talk for CodeMash 2012 ? - javascript - java script - javascript array


What is the explanation for these bizarre javascript behaviours mentioned in the ‘Wat’ talk for CodeMash 2012 ?

Solution 1:

Here's a list of explanations for the results you're seeing (and supposed to be seeing). The references I'm using are from the ECMA-262 standard.

  • [] + [] When using the addition operator, both the left and right operands are converted to primitives first (§11.6.1). As per §9.1 , converting an object (in this case an array) to a primitive returns its default value, which for objects with a valid toString() method is the result of calling object.toString() (§8.12.8). For arrays this is the same as calling array.join() (§ Joining an empty array results in an empty string, so step #7 of the addition operator returns the concatenation of two empty strings, which is the empty string.
  • [] + {}Similar to [] + [], both operands are converted to primitives first. For "Object objects" (§15.2), this is again the result of calling object.toString(), which for non-null, non-undefined objects is "[object Object]" (§
  • {} + []The {} here is not parsed as an object, but instead as an empty block (§12.1, at least as long as you're not forcing that statement to be an expression, but more about that later). The return value of empty blocks is empty, so the result of that statement is the same as +[]. The unary + operator (§11.4.6) returns ToNumber(ToPrimitive(operand)). As we already know, ToPrimitive([]) is the empty string, and according to §9.3.1 , ToNumber("") is 0.
  • {} + {}Similar to the previous case, the first {} is parsed as a block with empty return value. Again, +{} is the same as ToNumber(ToPrimitive({})), and ToPrimitive({}) is "[object Object]" (see [] + {}). So to get the result of +{}, we have to apply ToNumber on the string "[object Object]". When following the steps from §9.3.1 , we get NaN as a result:If the grammar cannot interpret the String as an expansion of StringNumericLiteral, then the result of ToNumber is NaN.
  • Array(16).join("wat" - 1)As per § and § , Array(16) creates a new array with length 16. To get the value of the argument to join, §11.6.2 steps #5 and #6 show that we have to convert both operands to a number using ToNumber. ToNumber(1) is simply 1 (§9.3), whereas ToNumber("wat") again is NaN as per §9.3.1. Following step 7 of §11.6.2 , §11.6.3 dictates thatIf either operand is NaN, the result is NaN.So the argument to Array(16).join is NaN. Following § (Array.prototype.join), we have to call ToString on the argument, which is "NaN" (§9.8.1):If m is NaN, return the String "NaN".Following step 10 of § , we get 15 repetitions of the concatenation of "NaN" and the empty string, which equals the result you're seeing. When using "wat" + 1 instead of "wat" - 1 as argument, the addition operator converts 1 to a string instead of converting "wat" to a number, so it effectively calls Array(16).join("wat1").

As to why you're seeing different results for the {} + [] case: When using it as a function argument, you're forcing the statement to be an ExpressionStatement, which makes it impossible to parse {} as empty block, so it's instead parsed as an empty object literal.

Solution 2:

The problem in the code is that ({}) (opening braces inside of parentheses) is not the same as {} (opening braces as the start of a line of code). So when we type out({} + []) we are forcing the {} to be something which it is not when we type {} + []. This is part of the overall 'wat'-ness of Javascript. The basic idea was simple JavaScript wanted to allow both of these forms:

if (u)

if (x) {
click below button to copy the code. By JavaScript tutorial team

To do so, two interpretations were made of the opening brace: 1. it is not required and 2. it can appear anywhere. This was a wrong move. Real code doesn't have an opening brace appearing in the middle of nowhere, and real code also tends to be more fragile when it uses the first form rather than the second. (About once every other month at my last job, I'd get called to a coworker's desk when their modifications to my code weren't working, and the problem was that they'd added a line to the "if" without adding curly braces. We eventually just adopted the habit that the curly braces are always required, even when you're only writing one line.) Fortunately in many cases eval() will replicate the full wat-ness of JavaScript.

function out(code) {
    function format(x) {
        return typeof x === "string" ?
            JSON.stringify(x) : x;
    document.writeln('>>> ' + code);
out('[] + []');
out('[] + {}');
out('{} + []');
out('{} + {}');
out('Array(16).join("wat" + 1)');
out('Array(16).join("wat - 1")');
out('Array(16).join("wat" - 1) + " Batman!"');
click below button to copy the code. By JavaScript tutorial team

[Also that is the first time WE have written document.writeln in many many many years, and WE feel a little dirty writing anything involving both document.writeln() and eval().]

Solution 3:

WE second @Ventero’s solution. If we want to, we can go into more detail as to how + converts its operands. First step (§9.1): convert both operands to primitives (primitive values are undefined, null, booleans, numbers, strings; all other values are objects, including arrays and functions). If an operand is already primitive, we are done. If not, it is an object obj and the following steps are performed:

  • Call obj.valueOf(). If it returns a primitive, we are done. Direct instances of Object and arrays return themselves, so we are not done yet.
  • Call obj.toString(). If it returns a primitive, we are done. {} and [] both return a string, so we are done.
  • Otherwise, throw a TypeError.

For dates, step 1 and 2 are swapped. We can observe the conversion behavior as follows:

var obj = {
    valueOf: function () {
        return {}; // not a primitive
    toString: function () {
        return {}; // not a primitive
click below button to copy the code. By JavaScript tutorial team

Interaction (Number() first converts to primitive then to number):

> Number(obj)
TypeError: Cannot convert object to primitive value
click below button to copy the code. By JavaScript tutorial team

Second step (§11.6.1): If one of the operands is a string, the other operand is also converted to string and the result is produced by concatenating two strings. Otherwise, both operands are converted to numbers and the result is produced by adding them. More detailed explanation of the conversion process: “What is {} + {} in JavaScript?”

Solution 4:

We may refer to the specification and that's great and most accurate, but most of the cases can also be explained in a more comprehensible way with the following statements:

  • + and - operators work only with primitive values. More specifically +(addition) works with either strings or numbers, and +(unary) and -(subtraction and unary) works only with numbers.
  • All native functions or operators that expect primitive value as argument, will first convert that argument to desired primitive type. It is done with valueOf or toString, which are available on any object. That's the reason why such functions or operators don't throw errors when invoked on objects.

So we may say that:

  • [] + [] is same as String([]) + String([]) which is same as '' + ''. We mentioned above that +(addition) is also valid for numbers, but there is no valid number representation of an array in JavaScript, so addition of strings is used instead.
  • [] + {} is same as String([]) + String({}) which is same as '' + '[object Object]'
  • {} + []. This one deserves more explanation (see Ventero answer). In that case, curly braces are treated not as an object but as an empty block, so it turns out to be same as +[]. Unary + works only with numbers, so the implementation tries to get a number out of []. First it tries valueOf which in the case of arrays returns the same object, so then it tries the last resort: conversion of a toString result to a number. We may write it as +Number(String([])) which is same as +Number('') which is same as +0.
  • Array(16).join("wat" - 1) subtraction - works only with numbers, so it's the same as: Array(16).join(Number("wat") - 1), as "wat" can't be converted to a valid number. We receive NaN, and any arithmetic operation on NaN results with NaN, so we have: Array(16).join(NaN).

Solution 5:

To buttress what has been shared earlier. The underlying cause of this behaviour is partly due to the weakly-typed nature of JavaScript. For example, the expression 1 + “2” is ambiguous since there are two possible interpretations based on the operand types (int, string) and (int int):

  • User intends to concatenate two strings, result: “12”
  • User intends to add two numbers, result: 3

Thus with varying input types,the output possibilities increase. The addition algorithm

    1. Coerce operands to primitive values
  • The JavaScript primitives are string, number, null, undefined and boolean (Symbol is coming soon in ES6). Any other value is an object (e.g. arrays, functions and objects). The coercion process for converting objects into primitive values is described thus:
  • If a primitive value is returned when object.valueOf() is invoked, then return this value, otherwise continue
  • If a primitive value is returned when object.toString() is invoked, then return this value, otherwise continue
  • Throw a TypeError

Note: For date values, the order is to invoke toString before valueOf.

    2. If any operand value is a string, then do a string concatenation

    3. Otherwise, convert both operands to their numeric value and then add these values

Knowing the various coercion values of types in JavaScript does help to make the confusing outputs clearer. See the coercion table below

| Primitive Value |   String value    | Numeric value |
| null            | “null”            |  0            |
| undefined       | “undefined”       | NaN           |
| true            | “true”            | 1             |
| false           | “false”           | 0             |
| 123             | “123”             | 123           |
| []              | “”                | 0             |
| {}              | “[object Object]” | NaN           |

It is also good to know that JavaScript's + operator is left-associative as this determines what the output will be cases involving more than one + operation. Leveraging the Thus 1 + "2" will give "12" because any addition involving a string will always default to string concatenation.

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