Learn the Basics of the Kotlin Language

May 22 2024 · Kotlin 1.9, Android 14, Kotlin Playground 1.9

Lesson 04: Discover Operators


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Operators are symbols that allow you to perform actions on data. Depending on the type of data, there are specific operations that can be performed on it. Unary operators operate on a single piece of data. However, most operators operate on two operands, namely the left and right operands.

Arithmetic Operators

Arithmetic or mathematical operators perform basic mathematical operations on data. Start a new Kotlin Playground session or use any Kotlin Programming environment you prefer for this demo.


The addition performs a sum of the operands. + is the addition operator:

println(12 + 4) // Two raw values as operands


The subtraction operation finds the difference between two values just like it is in basic math.

val left = 12
println(left - 4) // A variable and a raw value as operands


The multiplication operator multiplies the operands. You implement this operator by the * symbol:

val left = 12
println(left * 4)


The division operator divides the left operand with the right operand. The forward slash / is the symbol for the division operator.

val left = 12
println(left / 4)


The modulos operator returns the remainder after performing a division between the operands. It’s represented by the symbol %:

val left = 12
println(left % 5)


The increment operator increases a numerical value by 1 and updates the variable containing the data.

var count = 12
var count = 12
println(count++) // Prints 12
println(count) // Prints 13
var count = 12
println(++count) // Prints 13


The decrement operator reduces a numerical value by 1 and then updates the operand. In this example, try out both post-decrement and pre-decrement, just as before:

var count = 12
println(count--) // Prints 12
println(count) // Prints 11
println(--count) // Prints 10

Assignment Operators

Assignment operators are used to assign a value to a variable. They work by setting the value of the left operand to the evaluated expression from the right operand. To assign a value to a variable, you put the receiving variable to the left of the equals sign, val count =. Next, set the right side of the equals sign to the calculation you want to assign to the left side, 12:

val count = 12

Augmented Assignment Operators

Augmented assignment operators combine an arithmetic operator with the assignment operator.

var count = 12
count += 3

Logical Operators

Logical operators are used to perform logical operations. These are operations that always result in either a true or false. The logical AND is represented by &&. This operation results in a true if both operands are true:

val isWeekend = true
val hasMoney = true
val isTimeToRelax = isWeekend && hasMoney
val isWeekend = true
val isHoliday = false
val isTimeToRelax = isWeekend || isHoliday
println(isTimeToRelax) // Returns true since at least one of the operands is true
val isWeekend = true
val isWeekday = !isWeekend
println(isWeekday) // Returns false since it negated isWeekend which is true

Equality Operators

To compare two values, Kotlin has the equality operator ==. This compares operands by their values:

val banana = 12
val coconut = 7
val pawpaw = 5
println(banana == coconut + pawpaw) // Returns true since the values are the same on both sides of the operator

Referential Equality Operators

This compares data by their memory addresses other than the values:

val pet = "Chameleon"
val reptile = "Chameleon"
val amphibian = "Axolotl"
val newPet = amphibian

println(pet === reptile)
println(newPet === amphibian)

Comparison Operators

Kotlin’s comparison operators compare two values. > is the greater than operator. < is the lesser than operator. >= is the greater than or equal to operator, and <= is the lesser than or equal to operator.

val banana = 12
val coconut = 7
val pawpaw = 8

println(coconut < pawpaw)
println(banana >= coconut)

The ? operator

This operator marks a variable or object as nullable.

val items: Int? = null

The Elvis operator

This Kotlin operator assigns a variable the value to its left if it’s not null, or the value to its right if it is.

val items = null
val amount = items ?: 0
println("Amount to pay: $amount")

The ?. operator

Just a reminder about null values. If you call a method on a null object, it will result in an error. To avoid this, you can use an if statement to check if the variable is null before calling the method. If it’s null, that portion of the code will not be executed.

val apple: Int? = null
val orange: Int = 5

val total = apple?.plus(orange)

The !! Operator

This operator asserts that an expression isn’t null. This then allows you to call methods on the variable as though it were non-nullable.

var fruit: String? = null
fruit = "Sugarcane"

The in Operator

The in operator is used to check if an operand contains another operand. This operator works on sequences and collection. The operation searches through the operand on the right for the value of the operand on the left.

val bucketList = arrayOf("Kotlin", "Android", "iOS", "Flutter", "Kodeco")
if ("Kotlin" in bucketList){
   println("Yes! Kotlin is in my bucket list.")

Indexed Access Operator

This is represented by two square brackets []. It’s used to access elements in a collection. Used with a key-value-based type, it receives a value within the square brackets that corresponds with the key.

val romanNumerals = mapOf("IX" to 9)
val romanNumerals = arrayOf("I", "II", "III", "IV", "V", "VI", "VII", "VIII", "IX", "X")

The Range Operator

The range operator is defined by two dots ... Kotlin creates a range when .. is used between two values. The range of values is the whole set of numbers between and including the left and right operands.

for (i in 1 .. 5){
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