In logical calculus, logical operators or logical connectors serve to connect statements into more complicated compound statements. For example, considering the assertionss "It's raining", and "I'm inside", we can form the compound assertions "it's raining, and I'm inside" or "it's not raining" or "if it's raining, then I'm inside."
A new statement or proposition combing two statements are called compound statement or compound proposition.
The basic operators are "not" (¬), "and" (∧, or ), "or" (∨), "conditional" (→), and "biconditional" (↔). "Not" is a unary operator--it takes a single term ( ¬ P ). The rest are binary operators, taking two terms to make a compound statement ( P ∧ Q, P ∨ Q, P → Q, P ↔ Q ).
Note the similarity between the symbols for "and" () and "set theoretic intersection" ( ∩ ); likewise for "or" ( ∨ ) and "union ( ∪ ). This is not a coincidence: the definition of the intersection uses "and" and the definition of union uses "or".
Truth tables for these connectives:
|P||Q||¬P||P ∧ Q||P ∨ Q||P → Q||P ↔ Q|
In order to reduce the number of necessary parentheses, one introduces precendence rules: ¬ has higher precedence than ∧, ∧ higher than ∨, and ∨ higher than →. So for example, P ∨ Q ∧ ¬ R → S is short for (P ∨ (Q ∧ (¬ R)) → S.
Note that the logical equivalence of certain compound statements entails that not all of these operators are necessary for a full-blooded logical calculus. For example, ¬ P ∨ Q is logically equivalent to P → Q; since logical equivalence means that equivalent terms may be subsituted for each other in an expression, it's not necessary to have a conditional operator. The five operators listed above are the basic set for the sake of convenience (and brevity).
See also Laws of Logic, xor, or, and