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C Elements: COG Basics

Author: Rishka

The COG language is a C-based language. What's that mean? Well, C is one of the most popular programming languages used today. Other programming languages (including Java and COG) are based on it, meaning that they work very similiar and use many of the same commands. In this tutorial, I'm going to discuss many of the commands that were carried over from C. By the time you finish this tutorial, you should have a basic knowledge of how to program, not just in COGs, but in any C-based language. Let's get started, shall we?


You're probably wondering what in the world is an operator? Well, simply put, an operator is a special character that performs a specific function such as multiply. Operators are the most common C element you'll see in cogs. Below is a list of all known operators in the COG language. Most of them you will recognize. Probably the only ones that need explaining are the logical operators.

A logical operator extends the action of if-else statements. They let you combine two or more relational tests into a single statement (AND or OR operators) or change the value returned from a relation (NOT operator). We'll discuss logical operators more when we go over if-else statements.

Primary Math Operators

* Multiplication
/ Division
% Modulus (remainder)
+ Addition
- Subtraction

Relational Operators

== Equal to
> Greater than
>= Greater than or equal to
< Less than
<= Less than or equal to
!= Not equal to

The Logical Operators

&& AND
|| OR


Comments are not COG commands. In fact, Jedi Knight/MotS ignores any and all comments in your COGs. So why use comments? You should add comments in your COGs that explain in plain language (not COG) what's going on. Use comments abundantly so that someone reading your COG later has a clear guide to the COGs functions. Another programmer might be able to trace through your code and figure out how the COG works, but comments speed up the process.

In COGs, comments begin with one of two things: either a double slash (//) or a pound sign (#). Comments extend to the end of the line. Anything following a comment is disregarded by Jedi Knight. Also, you can put comments on a line by themselves or at the end of a line of code (remember, anything following that comment is disregarded). Examples of comments:

    // Increments x by 1
    x = x + 1;  

    x = x + 1; // also increments x by 1

Both of these examples do the same thing; they're just layed out different. How you choose to add your comments is up to you. Using comments for things like the example above is redundant, as anyone can tell that x is being incremented by 1. I suggest using comments only when they help explain what is going on in the code.


One of the most common C commands, the if statement can be found in every programming language. The if statement tests the relational operators (see above) and decides exactly which sections of code to run and which to ignore. The if statement is a multiline programming statement. Basically, what this means is that it almost always takes more than one line of code. Here is the format of the if statement:

if (relationalTest)
{ A block of one or more statements }

From the italics, you can tell that the if statement uses a relational test that you must supply inside the parantheses. The parantheses are required; without them, your if statement won't work. relationalTest can be the comparison of any two variables.

Warning! Never put a semicolon after the closing parantheses! Jedi Knight will think that the *if* statement is finished and will begin executing the block of statements that follow the *if*, whether or not the relational test is true or false.

OK, so let's put this into practice now. Say we want to check and see if a number is greater than 0, and if it is, to print out on the screen that it is? Here's how you'd do it:

    if (x > 0)  
        Print("x is greater than 0!");  

Not much to it, now is there? OK, that's all fine and dandy, but what if we wanted to know if the number is between 0 and 5? We could use two if statements:

    if (x > 0)
        if (x < 5)
            Print("x is greater than 0 and less than 5!");

But that's more work than is necessary. It's much easier using the logical operators. Here's how we'd do it using logical operators.

    if ((x > 0) && (x < 5))
        Print("x is greater than 0 and less than 5!");

See how much easier that was? Logical operators are very useful for if statements. Now, there's another side to the if statement... the else statement. The else statement determines what happens if the relation is false. The if, as you already know, determines whether or not a block of code runs, but it's possible to extend the action of if so that it runs one block of code or another depending on the result. To do this, we simply need to add the else statement after the if's closing brace. Here is the format of the if-else statement:

if (relationalTest)
{ A block of one or more COG statements }
{ Another block of one or more COG statements }

The else statement runs only if relationalTest is false. Here's an example of the if-else statement at work:

    if (x > 0)
        Print("x is greater than 0!");
        Print("x is not greater than 0!");

Well, that seems to be it on the if-else statement. Now, we'll move on to some of the other C elements.


DEFINITION - A loop is a program's repeated execution of the same set of instructions.

Looping is a very important concept in programming. In fact, COGs (as well as C++) provide three different forms of loops: while and do...while loops, which do things over and over until some condition is ture, and the for loop, which persforms some actions a specific number of times.

The while Loop

The while loop repeats as long as a relational test is true. As soon as the relational test becomes false, the while loop terminates and the rest of the program continues. One of the most important (and most forgotten) points about loops is making sure that the loop terminates. An infinite loop can cause hang-ups and/or crashes. To keep loops from executing forever, you write a controlling relational test, just like the relational tests that appear inside if statements. Unlike an if statement, a while body keeps repeating as long as the relational test is true.

Warning! You must make sure that something inside the loop eventually changes the while's relational test. If the relation is true when the while first begins, and if nothing inside the body of the while ever changes the relational test, it executes forever. The loop will never stop, and you'll lose your title of "Master COG Guru Programmer." =)

Enough introduction. Here's the format of the while loop:

    while (relationalTest)
        // Block of one or more COG statements

Just like the if, while is a multiline statement. Also like if, parantheses must appear around the relational expression. The relational expression can contain one or more relational operators. If you use more than one relational operator inside the relational expression, use logical operators (&& and | |) to combine the relational tests.

The relational test appears at the top of the while loop. The location of the test is important; if the while expression is false the first time through, the loop will not even execute once! The body of the while loop executes only if the relational expression is true, and it keeps executing as long as the relational expression is true. If and when the relational expression becomes false, the COG continues at the statement following the while loop's closing brace.

Well, now on to the next loop....

The other while: the do-while Loop

There is a second while loop, called the do-while loop, whose relational test appears at the bottom of the loop's body rather than the top. Here is the format of the do-while loop:

        // Block of one or more COG statements
    while (relationalTest);

As with the while loop, you must put parantheses around the relational expression. The final semicolon after the relational test is required to terminate the do-while statement.

You should use a do-while loop instead of a while loop when you want the body of the loop to execute at least once. The location of the do-while's relational test casues execution to fall through and run the body of the loop at least once. Only after the body executes once can the do loop check the relational test to see whether or not the loop should terminate. Only after the relational test is false will the rest of the COG continue executing. The while loop might never execute because Jedi Knight checks the relational test before the body has a chance to execute. do-while, on the other hand, doesn't check the relation until the loop executes one full time.

Simple enough, eh? On to the for loops....

The for Loop

The for statement makes for loops look rather difficult, but for loops really aren't that difficult to understand. The syntax of the for statement may look a little strange but you'll get used to it. Here's the format of the for loop:

    for (startexpression; relationalTest; countExpression)
        // A block of one or more COG statements

When Jedi Knight encounters a for statement, it follows these steps to perform a loop:

  1. Perform the startexpression, which is usually the assignment of a value.
  2. Test the relational expression for a true or false result.
  3. Perform the body of the loop if the relation is true.
  4. Perform the countExpression, which usually increments or decrements the operation.
  5. Go back to step 2.

When the relation is tested and found to be false, the COG stops looping and the COG continues on at the statement following the for loop. As with while, never put a semicolon right after the for statement's parantheses. However, semicolons are required inside the parantheses. The for loop is thoe only statement that requires such semicolon placement.

Here is a sample for loop:

    for (i = 1; i <= 10; i = i + 1)

When Jedi Knight gets to this for loop, it prints the following output to the screen:











Jedi Knight automatically updates the integer i each time the for loop executes. The body of this for loop executes exactly 10 times. Here are the parts of this for loop:

startexpression: i = 1

relationalTest: i <= 10

countexpression: i = i + 1

Next are the five actions of the for loop applied to this specific loop. Follow the actions listed here and you'll see how Jedi Knight produced the numbers from 1 to 10:

  1. Assigns 1 to the variable i. You should have a integer named i defined in your symbols section. Jedi Knight executes this startexpression only once, before the loop begins.
  2. Jedi Knight tests the relational test, i \<= 10, to see whether it's true or false. The first time the loop is run, i is 1 (due to the assignment just made in step 1) and the conditional is true, so the body of the loop is executed.
  3. The statement inside the loop body executes, the first time printing a 1 for i.
  4. The countexpression executes, adding 1 to i, so that it stores a 2 in i.
  5. Jedi Knight goes back to step 2, testing the conditional again and executing the body of the loop nine more times until i contains 11. At that point, the loop is terminated and the program continues.

Also, it's important to note that the countexpression does not have to increment the value. It can also decrement the value or increase the number by a value other than 1.