From this point onward I'll be using the Java/C/C++/C# code syntax. A boolean expression is any valid expression that results in a boolean value. This may be anything from the constants true and false all the way to complex expressions such as x == 1 && (y > 3 || z <= 1.25) && !checkSomething(x, y, z) (assuming checkSomething(...) returns a boolean).

Say you have the condition c and the boolean expressions p and q. The following table contains all possible conversions from a ternary expression to an equivalent boolean expression:

# | Ternary Expression | if-then-else Expression | Equivalent to |

1 | c ? p : q | if (c) p else q | (c && p) || (!c && q) |

2 | c ? p : true | if (c) p else true | !c || p |

3 | c ? p : false | if (c) p else false | c && p |

4 | c ? true : p | if (c) true else p | c || p |

5 | c ? false : p | if (c) false else p | !c && p |

6 | c ? true : false | if (c) true else false | c |

7 | c ? false : true | if (c) false else true | !c |

8 | c ? true : true | if (c) true else true | true |

9 | c ? false : false | if (c) false else false | false |

Note that #1 may or may not result in more readable code; it is probably better to use the ternary operator in that case. #6 through #9 are poor coding practices and should be replaced as soon as possible by their equivalent boolean expressions. #2 through #5 require attention and almost certainly will result in better, cleaner code.

Also note that c ? p : q is equivalent to if (c) b=p else b=q. In other words, if any boolean variables are assigned a value that depends on the condition of an if-then-else clause, then that value can be simplified according to the equivalence table above, as long as there are no unintended side-effects.

Let's try this with an example:

boolean b = i > 5 ? j == 3 : false

or, as an if-then-else clause:

boolean b;

if (i > 5) b = j == 3; else b = false;

Looking at the above table, this matches expression #3, with:

c = i > 5

p = j == 3

The equivalent expression would be:

boolean b = i > 5 && j == 3

which is slightly shorter and certainly less confusing than the above ternary or if-then-else statements.