Bitwise operation

In the explanations below, any indication of a bit's position is counted from the right (least significant) side, advancing left. For example, the binary value 0001 (decimal 1) has zeroes at every position but the first (i.e., the rightmost) one.

For example, 0110 (decimal 6) can be considered a set of four flags, where the first and fourth flags are clear (0), and the second and third flags are set (1). The third flag may be cleared by using a bitwise AND with the pattern that has a zero only in the third bit:

Because of this property, it becomes easy to check the parity of a binary number by checking the value of the lowest valued bit. Using the example above:

The bitwise OR may be used to set to 1 the selected bits of the register described above. For example, the fourth bit of 0010 (decimal 2) may be set by performing a bitwise OR with the pattern with only the fourth bit set:

The bitwise XOR may be used to invert selected bits in a register (also called toggle or flip). Any bit may be toggled by XORing it with 1. For example, given the bit pattern 0010 (decimal 2) the second and fourth bits may be toggled by a bitwise XOR with a bit pattern containing 1 in the second and fourth positions:

This technique may be used to manipulate bit patterns representing sets of Boolean states.

In the first case, the leftmost digit was shifted past the end of the register, and a new 0 was shifted into the rightmost position. In the second case, the rightmost 1 was shifted out (perhaps into the carry flag), and a new 1 was copied into the leftmost position, preserving the sign of the number. Multiple shifts are sometimes shortened to a single shift by some number of digits. For example:

In a logical shift, zeros are shifted in to replace the discarded bits. Therefore, the logical and arithmetic left-shifts are exactly the same.

However, as the logical right-shift inserts value 0 bits into the most significant bit, instead of copying the sign bit, it is ideal for unsigned binary numbers, while the arithmetic right-shift is ideal for signed two's complement binary numbers.

Rotate through carry is a variant of the rotate operation, where the bit that is shifted in (on either end) is the old value of the carry flag, and the bit that is shifted out (on the other end) becomes the new value of the carry flag.

Rotate through carry is especially useful when performing shifts on numbers larger than the processor's native word size, because if a large number is stored in two registers, the bit that is shifted off one end of the first register must come in at the other end of the second. With rotate-through-carry, that bit is "saved" in the carry flag during the first shift, ready to shift in during the second shift without any extra preparation.

Bitwise operations are necessary particularly in lower-level programming such as device drivers, low-level graphics, communications protocol packet assembly, and decoding.

Additionally, XOR can be composed using the 3 basic operations (AND, OR, NOT)

It can be hard to solve for variables in boolean algebra, because unlike regular algebra, several operations do not have inverses. Operations without inverses lose some of the original data bits when they are performed, and it is not possible to recover this missing information.

Operations at the top of this list are executed first. See the main article for a more complete list.