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It's really a shame that i have to even write this , but here it goes: I am not responsible for any damage that this page has caused you , your dog , you wife your boss , your time , your web browser , your computer , your life , your mom , etc... you  view everything on this page at your own risk. I am not responsible for any spelling errors ,  wrong facts , lies (not that you'll find any). All opinions are of the person who wrote them , and remember , they are only opinions so you dont have to kill someone because they disagree with you. Lastly , all the graphics and content on this page are 

  • copyrighted (c) 1997 by  unless otherwise specified. If you have any questions or comments , please feel free to e-mail me at the above address.  

    Background: Evaluating an expression has been a problem for many years , and many solutions have been devised. The solution we will run through will require converting the Infix expression (Infix meaning the operator is in between the 2 operands ) into PostFix (the operator is after the 2 operands) and evaluate it. This version will only deal with binary operators (those that take 2 operands) , however , adding unary operators is a trivial task. 

    Step 1 , Converting INFIX to POSTFIX 

    I will assume that the reader knowledgeable in programming , since i will not discuss syntax and much code. Also , the reader should be familiar with the STACK datatype. I will discuss it breifly in this section , however a more detailed explanation will appear in the General Programming Info  Section under DATATYPES , coming soon! 


    What is a Stack? 
    The basic Idea 
    Why it works 
    Dealing with Parenthesis 
    Evaluating PostFix expressions 

    SO, What is a Stack? 

    A Stack is a simple data type in which items are inserted on the top , and removed from the top. This is the only way data can enter or exit the stack. (From the top) An example of a stack would be a stack of books. Take 1 book , put it on a table , then take another book and put it on top of the last book , this is called PUSHING the book onto the stack. PUSH is one of the basic Stack functions. It takes the element passed to it and adds it to the TOP of the stack (Always the top) Now , take off the book you just added. This is called POPING , pop removes the element on the Top of the stack. As you may already see , if Someone were to PUSH(add) 5 elements on to a stack (lets say A,B,C,D,E) And then POPed them all off , he would get them back in reverse order. Thus a Stack is usefull when we want to reverse "stuff". Also , keep that in mind. Well , that's enough for stacks , on to the good stuff (How to use the stacks!) 
    Back to Contents 

    The Basic Idea. 

    In order to solve this rather complicated problem , we will start with a simple implementation with NO parenthesis (adding parenthesis is trivial). The solution to this problem is not at all as hard as coming up with the solution. Here is the basic algorithm in words for converting INFIX to POSTFIX without parenthesis. You will notice that stacks come into play here. 

    While there are still characters in the string 
        Read a character 
            If it is an operand , push it in the answer STACK 
            If it is an operator , 
                while not Precedence of currentOperator is <= POP(OperatorStack) 
                        push the POPed operator into answer stack 
                end loop 
                Push currentOperator into OperatorStack 
    end loop 
    Flush OperatorStack into Answer 

    thats it!! , Believe it or not , thats the basic idea , and it works! 

    Back to Contents 

    WHY it Works... 

    In order for you to see why this works , we must observe a few basic things about POSTFIX notation. 
    One important fact is that Postfix doesnt ever contain or need parenthesis. Which will come in play in the Adding parenthesis section and Evaluating PostFix section. Secondly , The OPERANDS in the POSTFIX expression are in the SAME ORDER as those in the INFIX expression. This is why , in the above code , if we get an operand , we automatically push it into the STACK because it is in order. The STACK is used because it provides an easy way to store and retreive the information in an organized manner. Since the Operands go in the same place as the INFIX , all we have to do is find out where to put the OPERATORS. Lets examine the following example: 1+2. Simple huh? Let's find out... 

    In order to do this with our algorithm , we will first take the '1'. Since its an Operand , we put it in the answer stack. so far everything looks like this 


    Now , we take the next character , a '+'. Since this is an Operator , we don't know what to do with it yet , so lets dump it into the OperatorStack , so now everything looks like this. 

    1                              + 

    Now , we hit a '2' , so we do the same as we did with the one. 

    1                             + 

    Now , since we are all pro's at converting infix2Postfix , we know that the answer is 12+ 
    so we will just push the + in operatorstack onto answerstack , yeilding 

    ANSWERSTACK , and because this is in reverse order (a Stack , when taken out , it gives us 
    12+ , which is what we want! Is that it? I don't think so... Let's try this example , 1*2+3. Using what we would get what the graphic below illustrates. 

    So...How do we fix this you may be wondering? Well , the answer is very simple. As you can see , this did not work , because we want the * to be first. So , what we did in our solution on top was check to see if the OPERATOR we are placing in the stack has a lower precedence than the item in the TOP of the stack , we remove the item on the TOP and place it in the Answer stack. This we repeat. (There may be some errors in the code above (little ones only) If there are , PLEASE e-mail me. This is the main solution for the problem of converting INFIX to POSTFIX (without Parenthesis) 
     Back to Contents
    Dealing with Parenthesis: 
    Dealing with parenthesis may be difficult , however , once we will analyze the situation and what parenthesis actually do , we will see it is a very trivial task. (Approx 2 or 3 lines of code). What the parenthesis actually do: After you look carefully at what parenthesis do , you will notice that parenthesis act like the highest precedence value. If you remember how we treated the highest order operator in our stack above , you will see how easy it is to deal with parenthesis. Since the parenthesis always have a higher precedence than the object before , the parenthesis will always go on top of the stack. (Simple huh?) So , all we have to do is make sure the parenthesis block goes on top. And how do we do this? There are many ways... One way is to this like so. If you encounter a '(' , you raise the precedence of the next operators by some number which will raise it by a 'degree' (if you have operators with precedence ranging from 1-3 , then you would have to add at least 4...) Then , you proceed as normal , until you hit a closing partenthesis (')') , in this case you subtract the 4 you added. Simple. 
    There are other ways of doing this just as easily , however , i won't dwell into those for a little while. (I hope to have them here.) This is all you need to know to be able to write your own Infix2PostFix converter.
    Back to Contents

    Evaluating POSTFIX expressions 

    Evaluating Postfix expressions is a very simple task. As a matter of fact , you may have even figured it out your self! (Stacks...Stacks...Stacks...) 

    Here is the Algorithm to evaluate postfix expressions. It is very simple and i don't think you will need any further explanation. If you don't get it at first , try it in your head , and if you STILL don't get it , E-mail me 


    While (Characters in POSTFIX expression) 
    Get Char 
        If ( Operand ) // number... 
            Push into AnswerStack; 
        If (Operator) //+,-,*,/ 
            Pop 2 elements from AnswerStack 
            Operate(Operator_you_just_got , PoppedItem1,PoppedItem2); 
    } //end while loop; 

    Thats it!