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# If "l" comes before "z" how is "lion" not greater than "zebra"?

the question is asking ('lion' < 'zebra') In which case l comes before z. Thus, it should be greater than zebra. Unless I'm misinterpreting it, than this might be an error.

STAFF

Hi there, Matt Leblanc! While james south has provided a really solid answer, let me see if I can put it a little differently. When you hit a key on your keyboard, your computer doesn't see a letter. Your computer doesn't even know what a letter is really. It sees a number. These numbers are determined by the character encoding system you're working with. In every system I'm aware of, there is generally a 26 letter block laid out with consecutive numbers that begin with "a" and end with "z". Also, there will be another 26 letter block that begins with "A" and ends with "Z".

As a child, you may have developed a "code" with your friends which substituted letters for numbers. Something like `a = 1, b = 2, c = 3, d =4 ...`. This is exactly the same principle. The letters that come first in the alphabet have a lower numerical value.

Take a look at this ASCII chart and take a look specifically at the numbers 65-90 and 97 to 122.

Hope this helps!

l comes before z the same way 3 comes before 7. so letters earlier in the alphabet are less than subsequent letters.

``` 1 < 2
true
'l' < 'z'
true
'zebra' > 'lion'
true
'zebra' < 'lion'
false
```

OH. That makes sense. Phew. I automatically assumed the a or A would be greater just because it starts the alphabet. Now that I know a = 1, b = 2....etc. That is why l = 12 is less than z = 26. Or how the computer sees it as 12 < 26 Thanks for the comments!