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Revision 1

Revision 2

And this is the third revision. I delete spaces and validate an equation before computing.

public class Main {

    private static final String EQUATION_REGEX = "^-?\\d+((\\/|\\*|\\+|-)\\d+)*$";

    // http://www.careercup.com/question?id=4911380140392448
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        String equationWithAllSigns = "-1 * 5 * 4/2 - 8*9 - 16+1";

        // Delete spaces
        equationWithAllSigns = equationWithAllSigns.replaceAll("\\s+", "");

        // Compute the equation if it's valid
        if (equationWithAllSigns.matches(EQUATION_REGEX)) {
            double allSignsResult = computeWithAllOperations(equationWithAllSigns);
        } else {
            System.out.println("Invalid equation");

    private static double computeWithAllOperations(String input) {
        double result = 0.0;
         * 1. Replace - with +- except the minus which is the first symbol of
         * the input. 
         * 2. Split the input string by +
         * 3. Calculate the products and quotients 
         * 4. Sum up the results

        // (\\d)- is used instead of - to support strings starting with -
        String parts[] = input.replaceAll("(\\d)-", "$1+-").split("\\+");
        for (String part : parts) {
            result += computeMultAndDivision(part);
        return result;

    private static double computeMultAndDivision(String part) {
        String[] parts = part.split("(?=[/*])|(?<=[/*])");
        double result = Double.parseDouble(parts[0]);
        for (int i = 1; i < parts.length; i += 2) {
            String op = parts[i];
            double val = Double.parseDouble(parts[i + 1]);
            switch (op) {
            case "*":
                result *= val;
            case "/":
                result /= val;
        return result;

1 Answer 1


From your second revision:

I don't consider 2 * -3 a valid equation. It should look like this:


What if you need to multiply two negative integers? :p Hold that thought for awhile...

Validation logic

Even if we suppose you have made a case for your existing validation logic, it should belong to computeWithAllOperations(), possibly throwing an IllegalArgumentException exception containing a message to let the caller know what went wrong. You may want to go one step further to give a brief documentation about this on the method's Javadoc.

Handling -

Your code transforms the - sign based on a preceding digit, which is a slightly odd twist in logic. Instead, I think you should be checking whether a - sign is preceded by any other mathematical operators ignoring whitespaces, which will yield the following change:

final String parts[] = input.replaceAll("\\s+", "")
                            .replaceAll("--", "+")
                            .replaceAll("((?<![/*+])-)", "+$1");

Just like your original code, we strip out whitespaces, then transform a 'minus negative' operation into an addition, and finally replace only the - signs that do not follow other mathematical operators: /, * and +. These are the only cases when we need to treat it as a subtraction rather than to signify a negative value. More can be added here to support % and/or ^.

However, this change does introduce a slight quirk, which changes expressions starting with a negative integer to "+-1*5...". To mitigate that, we can do a simple short-circuiting in computeMultAndDivision():

private static final Pattern REGEX = Pattern.compile("(?=[/*%^])|(?<=[/*%^])");

public static double computeMultAndDivision(final String part) {
    final String[] parts = REGEX.split(part);
    if (parts[0].isEmpty()) {
        return 0;

Unit testing

Last but not least, I'll suggest doing proper unit testing for your utility method to assert its correctness. :)


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