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Dharan Ganesan
Dharan Ganesan

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Day 34: Equality Comparisons

In JavaScript, equality comparisons are used to evaluate if two values are the same. Sounds straightforward, right? But hold on! JavaScript offers two types of equality operators: loose equality (==) and strict equality (===). These operators might appear similar, but beneath the surface, they behave differently.

Loose Equality (==)

The double equals (==) operator in JavaScript attempts to coerce the operands into the same type before making a comparison. This can lead to unexpected results due to type conversion. For instance, 0 == false and "" == false both return true, which can be counterintuitive.

Strict Equality (===)

The triple equals (===) operator, on the other hand, compares values without performing type coercion. It checks both the value and the data type, ensuring a more predictable comparison. In most cases, strict equality is the preferred choice, as it helps avoid unexpected type-related issues.

Tricky Parts and Odd Stuff ðŸĪŠ

JavaScript's way of checking equality has some strange parts. Knowing these can stop us from getting confused.

NaN - Not Quite Equal!

NaN (Not-a-Number) is a special value in JavaScript. Surprisingly, NaN is not equal to itself according to the rules of equality comparisons. So, NaN === NaN returns false, necessitating the use of the isNaN() function to identify NaN values.

Objects and Arrays - The Reference Trap

When it comes to objects and arrays, equality comparisons behave differently. They check whether the references to the objects are the same, rather than comparing their content. This means that even if two objects or arrays have the same properties or elements, they won't be considered equal unless they refer to the same memory location.

Introducing Object.is() 🎉

JavaScript has a friend called Object.is(). It's like a helper that can check equality in a better way. It's good with NaN and even knows the difference between -0 and +0. For example, Object.is(NaN, NaN) says true, and Object.is(-0, +0) says false.

For instance, Object.is(NaN, NaN) returns true, and Object.is(-0, +0) returns false, providing a more intuitive comparison behavior.

Best Practices

  1. Always Use Strict Equality: Unless you have a specific reason to coerce types, stick to strict equality (===). It reduces unexpected results and enhances code predictability.

  2. Use NaN Checks: When dealing with potential NaN values, employ the isNaN() function or Number.isNaN() method. This avoids pitfalls arising from NaN's unique non-equality behavior.

  3. Leverage Object.is(): When precise NaN or -0/+0 comparisons are required, consider using Object.is() for more accurate results.

  4. Compare Objects and Arrays Carefully: If you need to compare objects or arrays based on their content, consider using external libraries like Lodash's isEqual or crafting custom comparison functions.

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