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The conditional operator (? :) is a ternary operator (it takes three operands). The conditional operator works as follows −

- The first operand is implicitly converted to bool. It is evaluated and all side effects are completed before continuing.
- If the first operand evaluates to true (1), the second operand is evaluated.
- If the first operand evaluates to false (0), the third operand is evaluated.
- The result of the conditional operator is the result of whichever operand is evaluated — the second or the third. Only one of the last two operands is evaluated in a conditional expression. The evaluation of the conditional operator is very complex. The steps above were just a quick intro to it. Conditional expressions have right-to-left associativity. The first operand must be of integral or pointer type.
- The following rules apply to the second and third operands −
- If both operands are of the same type, the result is of that type.
- If both operands are of arithmetic or enumeration types, the usual arithmetic

- conversions (covered in Standard Conversions) are performed to convert them to a common type.
- If both operands are of pointer types or if one is a pointer type and the other is a constant expression that evaluates to 0, pointer conversions are performed to convert them to a common type.
- If both operands are of reference types, reference conversions are performed to convert them to a common type.
- If both operands are of type void, the common type is type void.
- If both operands are of the same user-defined type, the common type is that type.
- If the operands have different types and at least one of the operands has user-defined type then the language rules are used to determine the common type. (See warning below.)

#include <iostream> using namespace std; int main() { int i = 1, j = 2; cout << ( i > j ? i : j ) << " is greater." << endl; }

This will give the output −

2 is greater.

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