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This page is obsoleted by specification language in the latest specification drafts for ES6. is in ES6, but is and isnt operators were deferred by TC39 (possibly forever, mainly on the theory of YAGNI).

Brendan Eich 2013/12/23 04:12, y)

An egal function simply makes available the internal SameValue function from section 9.12 of the ES5 spec. If two values are egal, then they are not observably distinguishable. Egal can be coded as in ES5 as follows:

Object.defineProperty(Object, 'is', {
  value: function(x, y) {
    if (x === y) {
      // 0 === -0, but they are not identical
      return x !== 0 || 1 / x === 1 / y;
    // NaN !== NaN, but they are identical.
    // NaNs are the only non-reflexive value, i.e., if x !== x,
    // then x is a NaN.
    // isNaN is broken: it converts its argument to number, so
    // isNaN("foo") => true
    return x !== x && y !== y;
  configurable: true,
  enumerable: false,
  writable: true

New collection operations that look up values based on equality should use egal rather than ===. It was an unfortunate price of legacy compatibility that ES5’s Array.prototype.indexOf and lastIndexOf look up by === rather than egal. The result is that a NaN in an array cannot be found. In the absence of legacy compatibility constraints, we will avoid repeating this mistake.

The above implementation produces the same results as the ES 5 SamveValue Algorithm (9.12). The actual specification should be expressed in terms of SameValue to make it clear that this is the same test as used at other places in the specification.

is and isnt operators

The following restricted-production right-hand sides are added to EqualityExpression, and with the necessary changes, to EqualityExpressionNoIn:

EqualityExpression :
    . . .
    EqualityExpression [no LineTerminator here] is RelationalExpression
    EqualityExpression [no LineTerminator here] isnt RelationalExpression

Thus, is and isnt are contextual keywords, not reserved in Harmony. No well-formed program can be affected by this change, due to the [no LineTerminator here] restriction.

The expression x is y is equivalent to the desugared expression, y) using the original value of

The expression x isnt y is equivalent to the desugared expression !, y) using the original value of


We achieved consensus to promote egal from strawman to proposal at the November 2010 meeting. The proposal now contains concrete syntax and naming. Rationale:

  •, y) as above, to match the operator is.
  • eq is not a word, smells of FORTRAN, and has an ugly inverse name neq.
  • Operators for usability are important (see the decimal discussion).
  • Inverse operator for usability too, to avoid the if (!(obj instanceof Constructor)) ... awkwardness.
  • A quadruple = (====) operator is an equal sign too far
  • Aside from geek cred, there is no usability or teaching win in using the name egal.
  • identical is too long for an operator, and the Object name should match.

Open Issues

  • Should there be an Object.isnt method?
  • Given the operators, do we need the Object methods?

Comments welcome.

Brendan Eich 2011/05/11 20:03

My thoughts on how to resolve these:

  • Yes, we should have an Object.isnt method too. See next bullet.
  • Yes, methods are good for version-free/downrev (JS-in-reality) script usage guarded by method-detection.

Brendan Eich 2011/05/31 20:55


harmony/egal.txt · Last modified: 2013/12/23 04:14 by brendan
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