You should always use parentheses... you do not control the order of precedence... the developer of the compiler does. Here is a story that happened to me about non use of parentheses. This affected hundreds of people over a two week period.
Real World Reason
I inherited a main-frame application. One day, out of the blue, it stopped working. That's it... poof it just stopped.
My job was to get it working as fast as possible. The source code had not been modified for two years, but all of the sudden it just stopped. I tried to compile the code and it broke on line XX. I looked at line XX and I could not tell what would make line XX break. I asked for the detailed specs for this application and there were none. Line XX was not the culprit.
I printed out the code and started reviewing it from the top down. I started to create a flowchart of what was going on. The code was so convoluted I could hardly even make sense of it. I gave up trying to flowchart it. I was afraid to make changes without knowing how that change would effect the rest of the process, especially since I had no details of what the application did or where it was in the dependency chain.
So, I decided to start at the top of the source code and add whitespace and line breaks to make the code more readable. I noticed, in some cases, there were if conditions that combined
OR statements and it wasn't clearly distinguishable what data was being
ANDed and what data was being
ORed. So I started putting parentheses around the
OR conditions to make them more readable.
As I slowly moved down cleaning it up, I would periodically save my work. At one point I tried compiling the code and a strange thing happened. The error had jumped passed the original line of code and was now further down. So I continued, separating the
OR conditions with parens. When I got done cleaning it up it worked. Go figure.
I then decided to visit the operations shop and ask them if they had recently installed any new components on the main-frame. They said yes, we recently upgraded the compiler. Hmmmm.
It turns out that the old compiler evaluated expressions from left to right regardless. The new version of the compiler also evaluated expressions from left to right but ambiguous code, meaning unclear combinations of
OR could not be resolved.
Lesson I learned from this... ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS use parens to separated
AND conditions and
OR conditions when they are used in conjunction with each other.
`IF Product = 191 OR Product = 193 AND Model = "ABC" OR Product = 201 OR Product = 202 AND Model = "DEF" ...` (code littered with several of these)
This is a simplified version of what I encountered. There were else conditions with compound boolean logic statements as well.
I remember changing it to:
`IF ((Product = 191 OR Product = 193) AND Model = "ABC") OR ((Product = 201 OR Product = 202) AND Model = "DEF") ...`
I couldn't rewrite it because there were no specs. The original author was long gone. I remember intense pressure. An entire cargo ship was stranded in port and could not be offloaded because this little program did not work. No warning. No changes to the source code. It only dawned on me to ask the Network Operations if they modified anything after I noticed that adding parens shifted the errors.