## Bitwise Operators in C

**By:** Charles in C Tutorials on 2007-09-20

`char`,

`short`,

`int`, and

`long`, whether signed or unsigned.

& |
bitwise AND |

| |
bitwise inclusive OR |

^ |
bitwise exclusive OR |

<< |
left shift |

>> |
right shift |

~ |
one's complement (unary) |

The bitwise AND operator `&` is often used to mask off some set of
bits, for example

n = n & 0177;sets to zero all but the low-order 7 bits of

`n`.

The bitwise OR operator `|` is used to turn bits on:

x = x | SET_ON;sets to one in

`x`the bits that are set to one in

`SET_ON`.

The bitwise exclusive OR operator `^` sets a one in each bit position
where its operands have different bits, and zero where they are the same.

One must distinguish the bitwise operators `&` and `|` from
the logical operators `&&` and `||`, which imply
left-to-right evaluation of a truth value. For example, if `x` is 1 and `y`
is 2, then `x & y` is zero while `x && y` is one.

The shift operators `<<` and `>>` perform left and
right shifts of their left operand by the number of bit positions given by the
right operand, which must be non-negative. Thus `x << 2` shifts the
value of `x` by two positions, filling vacated bits with zero; this is
equivalent to multiplication by 4. Right shifting an `unsigned` quantity
always fits the vacated bits with zero. Right shifting a signed quantity will
fill with bit signs (``arithmetic shift'') on some machines and with 0-bits
(``logical shift'') on others.

The unary operator `~` yields the one's complement of an integer; that
is, it converts each 1-bit into a 0-bit and vice versa. For example

x = x & ~077sets the last six bits of

`x`to zero. Note that

`x & ~077`is independent of word length, and is thus preferable to, for example,

`x & 0177700`, which assumes that

`x`is a 16-bit quantity. The portable form involves no extra cost, since

`~077`is a constant expression that can be evaluated at compile time.

As an illustration of some of the bit operators, consider the function `getbits(x,p,n)`
that returns the (right adjusted) `n`-bit field of `x` that begins
at position `p`. We assume that bit position 0 is at the right end and
that `n` and `p` are sensible positive values. For example, `getbits(x,4,3)`
returns the three bits in positions 4, 3 and 2, right-adjusted.

/* getbits: get n bits from position p */ unsigned getbits(unsigned x, int p, int n) { return (x >> (p+1-n)) & ~(~0 << n); }The expression

`x >> (p+1-n)`moves the desired field to the right end of the word.

`~0`is all 1-bits; shifting it left

`n`positions with

`~0<<n`places zeros in the rightmost

`n`bits; complementing that with

`~`makes a mask with ones in the rightmost

`n`bits.

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