CodeQL documentation

Dangerous non-short-circuit logic

ID: java/non-short-circuit-evaluation
Kind: problem
Security severity: 
Severity: warning
Precision: medium
   - reliability
   - readability
   - external/cwe/cwe-691
Query suites:
   - java-security-and-quality.qls

Click to see the query in the CodeQL repository

Using a bitwise logical operator (& or |) on a boolean where a conditional-and or conditional-or operator (&& or ||) is intended may yield the wrong result or cause an exception. This is especially true if the left-hand operand is a guard for the right-hand operand.

Typically, as in the example below, this kind of defect is introduced by simply mistyping the intended logical operator rather than any conceptual mistake by the programmer.


If the right-hand side of an expression is only intended to be evaluated if the left-hand side evaluates to true, use a conditional-and.

Similarly, if the right-hand side of an expression is only intended to be evaluated if the left-hand side evaluates to false, use a conditional-or.


In the following example, the hasForename method is implemented correctly. For a forename to be valid it must be a non-null string with a non-zero length. The method has two expressions (forename != null and forename.length() > 0) to check these two properties. The second check is executed only if the first succeeds, because they are combined using a conditional-and operator (&&).

In contrast, although hasSurname looks almost the same, it contains a defect. Again there are two tests (surname != null and surname.length() > 0), but they are linked by a bitwise logical operator (&). Both sides of a bitwise logical operator are always evaluated, so if surname is null the hasSurname method throws a NullPointerException. To fix the defect, change & to &&.

public class Person
	private String forename;
	private String surname;

	public boolean hasForename() {
		return forename != null && forename.length() > 0;  // GOOD: Conditional-and operator

	public boolean hasSurname() {
		return surname != null & surname.length() > 0;  // BAD: Bitwise AND operator

	// ...


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