### how well do you know VB (part 2)

a few weeks ago, I posted a quiz about the syntax low < x < high, which really was a quiz about implicit casting of Booleans. Of course the great Dan Appleman  got that one right 🙂
That quiz stemmed from an earlier post, and raised some questions about values of Booleans in general.  I plan to post a long explanation, but first I thought I’d have some more fun with syntax quizzes  🙂

Given the following conditions:
– Code is compiled with Strict On and Explicit On rules applied
– two variables are declared as follows:

Dim x As Boolean = SomeFunctionthatReturnsABoolean()
Dim y As Boolean = True

Do all the following evaluate to the same If condition ?  We’re not concerned over how they get there, but whether or not they all get to the same place.

(1) If x = y Then

(2) If x And y Then

(3) If x <> Not y Then

(4) If Boolean.Equals(x,y) Then

Remember, y is specified as being True in all these expressions.
Are they all the same, always ?

1.   Geoff Appleby on July 19th, 2006

Starting off with an easy one are we? 🙂

I was looking for a trick, given that this is a quiz – so I looked so hard for some trick that I started wondering about item 2.

Crap, I thought to myself, is it doing a boolean and or a bitwise and?

But then I realised that it didn’t matter – the trick is that you made me think that there’s a trick 🙂

In all four cases, given that y is always true, they’ll all pass or fail in the exact same way.

2.   bill on July 19th, 2006

hmmm, are you sure ? 😉

3.   Chris on July 19th, 2006

They will all get to the same place when x = true

The only confusing/ticky one is #3. If x is true and “not y” making false, then x <> false.

4.   Geoff Appleby on July 19th, 2006

Well, I can’t come up with a scenario where they _wouldn’t_ all do the same thing. 🙂

5.   bill on July 19th, 2006

Geoff, That’s why it’s a quiz 😛

6.   bill on July 19th, 2006

Chris you’d be right if x true, but what about other possibilities 😉

to quote Holmes “when all other contingencies fail, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”

7.   Jonathan Allen on July 19th, 2006

Well, I can use C#’s unsafe block to shove a 10 into the return value of “SomeFunctionthatReturnsABoolean”.

Console.WriteLine(x) ‘true
Console.WriteLine(y) ‘true
Console.WriteLine(x = y) ‘false
Console.WriteLine(x And y) ‘false
Console.WriteLine(x <> Not y) ‘true
Console.WriteLine(Boolean.Equals(x, y)) ‘false

The rest I understand, but I am really surprised that Boolean.Equals doesn’t work correctly.

8.   Andreas Zenker on July 19th, 2006

I was wondering which method(s) were going to compare true vs false vs the integer values and didn’t want to ‘cheat’ and read the docs. Since any value other than 0 is ‘true’ you could have two values that are both ‘true’ but don’t equal each other. The “<> Not” will return true in Jonathan’s test because 10 <> 0, all the others seem to be comparing the integer values as well. So I guess all of them compare the integer values? With that being the case the <> test becomes much more forgiving in that all that is required is not to be equal to 0 instead of being equal to some other non-zero number.

9.   bill on July 19th, 2006

Andrew:,

you don’t need to use unsafe code. See my blog entry a couple of years ago for a safe way of hackign a boolean:
http://msmvps.com/blogs/bill/archive/2004/06/22/8730.aspx

10.   bill on July 19th, 2006

Andreas, yes we are now getting close to the crux of the issue 😉
All the comparisons are in fact comparing integers on the stack, using intrinisc IL operations (Equals indirectly). So of the coding practices:
If x = y Then is risky as it is looking for exact equality. Same goes for Boolean.Equals.
The If x <> Not y works, but it relies on y being True. This is because Vb compiles it comparing it to zero. If you change y to False, you’ll still get True in places because x doesn’t equal 0 😉

So all of the syntaxes have faults. The If x And y syntax is lacking because y when True is 1 on the stack. If however it was -1, as in all bits set, then x And y would be a true bistate only expression, returning 0 (false) when x is 0 (false), and True, when x is any other value.

The point ? Well it’s part of why traditionally, a booelan on the stack was either 0 or -1 as it provided fool proof masks 🙂