# Ternary operation

In mathematics, a ternary operation is an n-ary operation with n = 3. A ternary operation on a set A takes any given three elements of A and combines them to form a single element of A.

In computer science, a ternary operator is an operator that takes three arguments.[1]

## Examples

Given A, B and point P, geometric construction yields V, the projective harmonic conjugate of P with respect to A and B.

The function ${\displaystyle T(a,b,c)=ab+c}$  is an example of a ternary operation on the integers (or on any structure where ${\displaystyle +}$  and ${\displaystyle \times }$  are both defined). Properties of this ternary operation have been used to define planar ternary rings in the foundations of projective geometry.

In the Euclidean plane with points a, b, c referred to an origin, the ternary operation ${\displaystyle [a,b,c]=a-b+c}$  has been used to define free vectors.[2] Since (abc) = d implies ab = cd, these directed segments are equipollent and are associated with the same free vector. Any three points in the plane a, b, c thus determine a parallelogram with d at the fourth vertex.

In projective geometry, the process of finding a projective harmonic conjugate is a ternary operation on three points. In the diagram, points A, B and P determine point V, the harmonic conjugate of P with respect to A and B. Point R and the line through P can be selected arbitrarily, determining C and D. Drawing AC and BD produces the intersection Q, and RQ then yields V.

Suppose A and B are given sets and ${\displaystyle {\mathcal {B}}(A,B)}$  is the collection of binary relations between A and B. Composition of relations is always defined when A = B, but otherwise a ternary composition can be defined by ${\displaystyle [p,q,r]=pq^{T}r}$  where ${\displaystyle q^{T}}$  is the converse relation of q. Properties of this ternary relation have been used to set the axioms for a heap.[3]

In Boolean algebra, ${\displaystyle T(A,B,C)=AC+(1-A)B}$  defines the formula ${\displaystyle (A\lor B)\land (\lnot A\lor C)}$ .

## Computer science

In computer science, a ternary operator is an operator that takes three arguments (or operands).[1] The arguments and result can be of different types. Many programming languages that use C-like syntax[4] feature a ternary operator, ?:, which defines a conditional expression. In some languages, this operator is referred to as the conditional operator.

In Python, the ternary conditional operator reads x if C else y. Python also supports ternary operations called array slicing, e.g. a[b:c] return an array where the first element is a[b] and last element is a[c-1].[5] OCaml expressions provide ternary operations against records, arrays, and strings: a.[b]<-c would mean the string a where index b has value c.[6]

The multiply–accumulate operation is another ternary operator.

Another example of a ternary operator is between, as used in SQL.

The Icon programming language has a "to-by" ternary operator: the expression 1 to 10 by 2 generates the odd integers from 1 through 9.

In Excel formulae, the form is =if(C, x, y).

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