Bit Manipulation For Beginners
Table Of Contents
In this tutorial we will be taking a look at bit manipulation and how you can use it to optimize some of the different parts of your systems when you are programming.
In this tutorial we will be using Python 3.6 in order to demonstrate some of the concepts covered.
By shifting left we are essentially multiplying our original number by 2 * the number of times we shift left.
>>> 16 << 1 # 16 shifted left once = 16 * 2 32 >>> 16 << 2 # 16 shifted left twice = 16 * (2 * 2) 64
Let’s now look at the binary representation for these numbers and how shifting left affects them.
10000 # 16 in binary 10000 << 1 # shift left once 100000 # Returns 32 in binary, we have shifted one bit to the left 10000 # 16 in binary 10000 << 2 # shift left twice 1000000 # returns 64 in binary, we have shifted 2 bits to the left
It should be noted that there are two distinct types of shift right. These are arithmetic shift rights and logical shift rights.
Arithmetic Shift Right
Arithmetic shift rights essentially perform a division on whatever number was put into it. If we performed an arithmetic shift right on the value
16 in Python and shifted it right
1 then our output would be
8. If we shifted right twice our output would be
4 as we are essentially dividing by 4.
>>> 16 >> 1 8 >>> 16 >> 2 4
Let’s take a look at the binary representation of these numbers:
10000 # 16 in binary 10000 >> 1 # 16 / 2 01000 # 01000 = 8 in binary
If we were to shift right twice on an odd number we would see the following:
1001 # 9 in binary 1001 >> 1 # 9 / 2 0100 # Output is 4 in binary. It has rounded down
Bit Logical Operators
In this section of the tutorial we are going to take a look at the logical operators that can be used in conjunction with your bits.
Bitwise and will return a
1 if both values to the left and right of our
& operator are
1. This results in the following output when we try it across various different inputs.
>>> 1 & 1 1 >>> 1 & 0 0 >>> 0 & 1 0 >>> 0 & 0 0
Bitwise Or can be done using the
| operator in Python and will return a
1 if either or both of our values are
>>> 0 | 1 1 >>> 1 | 0 1 >>> 0 | 0 0 >>> 1 | 1 1
A Bitwise exclusive or
(XOR) can be achieved using the
^ operator. This will return the following results:
>>> 1 ^ 1 0 >>> 1 ^ 0 1 >>> 0 ^ 1 1 >>> 0 ^ 0 0
Complex Bit Manipulation
Now that we have covered the basics in Bit manipulation we can start to look at the more complex tasks such as setting a bit, clearing a bit or getting a bit. The vast majority of these tasks can be performed by first creating what we would call a
bit mask and then using this with one of the logical operators that we have previously covered.
A bit mask typically looks something like
0010000 and we can use this for doing things like setting, getting or clearing a bit in the
5th bit position. If this doesn’t make sense right now hopefully after the next few examples it will start to become clearer.
Setting a Bit
def set_bit(position, binary): # Create a bit mask based on the # position passed in # produces '10000' if we pass in position=4 # our bit in the '4th' position is set to 1 bit_mask = 1 << position # return our binary string or-ed with our mask return bit_mask | binary # This should return 16 print(set_bit(4, 00000000))