Welcome to the part of this blog where I write about things I either:

A) Wish I had known when I started programming

B) Am really grateful someone taught me when I started programming

Oh, who am I kidding? That's my entire blog.

Let's talk about number manipulation for algorithms. More specifically, let's talk about the modulo, or remainder operator. *(Quick note here: these are different things, but not for the purposes of the use case described in this post)*

The remainder operator (%) returns the remainder left over when one operand is divided by a second operand. It always takes the sign of the dividend.

So, `4 % 2`

is `0`

, and `5 % 2`

is `1`

.

Okay, we'll come back to that in a moment.

Let's say you're given a common algorithm: reverse digits.

The problem states that, given any integer as an argument, write an algorithm that returns the *reverse* of the digits of that integer. As an example, this algorithm, given 123, would return 321.

In JavaScript, you could achieve this using built-in methods:

- Turn the number into a string
- Turn the string into an array
- Reverse the array with .reverse()
- Turn the array back into a string
- Turn that string back into a number

But this defeats the point of algorithms: the point here is to use a lightsaber, not a blaster: a civilized weapon for a more civilized age.

So! Let's avoid all of this data manipulation entirely and leave the number as a number.

To reverse the number, we need to be able to extract a single digit from the number at a time.

It turns out that, given x being any integer, `x % 10`

always *returns* the last digit of that number. To continue the exmaple, `123 % 10`

*returns* 3. There's our last digit!

If you wanted to simulate "popping" the digit off the number, you could, for example:

*Disclaimer: this code assumes a positive number*

```
let x = 123;
while (x > 0) {
// Here's our x % 10 operator, storing the last digit in r
const r = x % 10;
x = (x - r) / 10; // This is the important part
// Use the remainder for something here
}
```

Pretty easy, right? Given that the remainder of `x % 10`

is the last digit of that number, *you can then just subtract that remainder from the original number and divide by 10*.

Given 123, one iteration would leave 12, then 1, and finally `1 - 1 / 10`

is 0, which ends the loop.

You can use this any time you need to manipulate a number without converting it into a string! Try it out the next time you need to manipulate a number directly.

## Top comments (0)