An operation may be unary, meaning it has only one operand. An example of a unary operator is negation, such as -x. The only operand of the minus sign is the x, so it is a unary operator.
An operation may be binary, meaning it has exactly two operands. Most operators in arithmetic are binary. One example is subtraction. In the expression 3x - 2, the subtraction operator combines the two terms, 3x and 2 using the subtraction operation. So subtraction is a binary operation.
There are other classes of operations outside the scope of this encyclopedia.
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