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# Scalar Operators and Functions

The most common operation on a scalar variable is assignment , which is the way to give a value to a variable. The Perl assignment operator is the equal sign (as in C or FORTRAN), which takes a variable name on the left side and gives it the value of the expression on the right, like so:

```\$a = 17;     # give \$a the value of 17
\$b = \$a + 3; # give \$b the current value of \$a plus 3 (20)
\$b = \$b * 2; # give \$b the value of \$b multiplied by 2 (40)```

Notice that the last line uses the `\$b` variable twice: once to get its value (on the right side of the `=`), and once to define where to put the computed expression (on the left side of the `=`). This is legal, safe, and in fact, rather common. In fact, the practice is so common that we’ll see in a minute that we can write this expression using a convenient shorthand.

You may have noticed that scalar variables are always specified with the leading `\$`. In batch files, Java, or C, you don’t need the `\$` at all. If you bounce back and forth a lot, you’ll find yourself typing the wrong things occasionally. This is expected. (Our solution was to stop writing batch files and C programs, but that may not work for you.)

You may use a scalar assignment as a value as well as an operation, as in C. In other words, `\$a=3` has a value, just as `\$a+3` has a value. The value is the value assigned, so the value of `\$a=3` is `3`. Although this usage may seem odd at first glance, using an assignment as a value is useful if you wish to assign an intermediate ...

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