is IMHO a syntactical herecy. Such things disgust me from programming.
Why on earth one cannot just wrap it in function c = nicefunc(a,b)
The problem here is that the general form isn't ONLY to return 'x' or 'y' but the decide between arbitrary values. Hard-coding the variables into the function loses 90%+ of the point.
So the general function would need a signature like:
c = nicefunc(a, b, x, y)
The problem here is that this call might be:
c = nicefunc(a, b, run_for_hours(), has_side_effects())
We only want ONE of 'x' and 'y' to eagerly evaluate. In the C or Python ternary we get exactly that. Obviously, that also happens in your fully spelled out if/else block too, but that's multiline and needs to setup variables not just be used as an expression.
Keeping medicines from the bloodstreams of the sick; food from the bellies of the hungry; books from the hands of the uneducated; technology from the underdeveloped; and putting advocates of freedom in prisons. Intellectual property is to the 21st century what the slave trade was to the 16th.