What Do You Need to Know About Python Bitwise Operators? [Explained with Examples]

Computer systems represent, store, and transmit data as a stream of binary digits called bits. ‘Binary’ means that there can be only two possible values, 0 and 1, and each such binary digit is known as a ‘bit.’ Whether you work with text, decimal numbers, images, sounds, or videos, computer software translates the information into binary code comprising 0s and 1s. Often referred to as machine language, binary information is the most fundamental level of information a computer system stores.

Bitwise operators in Python lets us manipulate individual bits of data at the most basic level. In other words, bitwise operators in Python are used to perform bitwise calculations on integer values. Thus, the integer values are first converted into binary form, and then bit-by-bit operations are performed. After the ‘bitwise operations’ are done, the results are returned in decimal format. Bitwise operators in Python work only on integers. Upskilling yourself with data science programs will help you overcome the challenges. Let’s talk more about text mining.   

Now, let’s explore Python bitwise operators in more detail, the types, how they work, and examples.

Bitwise Operators in Python

Python includes six operators for performing bitwise logical operations on integers. 

The following are the different bitwise operators in Python with their syntax and a description of what each does.




Bitwise AND 

a & b  

The operator returns 1 if both bits in the operands are 1. Else returns 0.

Bitwise OR

a | b

The operator returns 1 if either bit in the operands is 1. Else returns 0.

Bitwise NOT


A unary bitwise operator that performs logical negation of a given number by flipping all its bits. Arithmetically, it is expressed as subtracting individual bit values from one (~ai = 1 – ai).

Bitwise XOR 

a ^ b

The operator returns 1 if a bit pair contains opposing bit values. Else returns 0.

Bitwise Left Shift

a << 

The operator shifts the bits of its first operand to the left by the number of places defined in the second operand. In addition, the operator adds enough 0s to fill the gap that forms on the right side of the new bit pattern.

Bitwise Right Shift

a >> 

The operator pushes the bits to the right by the specified number of places. Thus, the rightmost bits are always dropped.

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Bitwise Operators in Python With Examples

With the basic description of each bitwise operator in mind, let us look at some examples to clarify the concept further.

1. Bitwise AND (&)

Returns 1 if both the bits are 1. Else returns 0.

  • Example #1

a = 24 = 11000 (Binary)

b = 4 = 00100 (Binary)

a & b = 11000



           = 00000

           = 0 (Decimal)

  • Example #2

a = 10 = 1010 (Binary)

b = 2 = 0010 (Binary)

a & b = 1010



           = 0010

           = 2 (Decimal)

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2. Bitwise OR ( | )

Returns 1 if either of the bits is 1. Else returns 0.

  • Example #1

a = 67 = 1000011 (Binary)

b = 54 = 0110110 (Binary)

a | b = 1000011



         = 1110111

         = 119 (Decimal)

  • Example #2

a = 6 = 000110 (Binary)

b = 34 = 100010 (Binary)

a | b = 000110



         = 100110

         = 38 (Decimal)

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3. Bitwise NOT (~)

Returns 1’s complement of the bit (inverts the bit).

  • Example #1

a = 60 = 111100 (Binary)

~a = ~111100

      = 000011

      = 3 (Decimal)

  • Example #2

a = 33 = 100001 (Binary)

~a = ~100001

      = 011110

      = 30 (Decimal)

4. Bitwise XOR (^)

Returns 1 if both the bits have opposing values. Else returns 0.

  • Example #1

a = 61 = 0111101 (Binary)

b = 90 = 1011010 (Binary)

a ^ b = 0111101



          = 1100111

          = 103 (Decimal)

  • Example #2

a = 2 = 000010 (Binary)

b = 55 = 110111 (Binary)

a ^ b = 000010



          = 110101

          = 53 (Decimal)

5. Bitwise Left Shift (<<)

Shifts the bits to the left and fills the gaps formed on the right with 0.

  • Example #1

a = 39 = 100111 (Binary)

a << 1 = 1001110 = 78 (Decimal)

a << 2 = 10011100 = 156 (Decimal)

a << 3 = 100111000 = 312 (Decimal)

  • Example #2

b = 74 = 1001010 (Binary)

b << 1 = 10010100 = 148 (Decimal)

b << 2 = 100101000 = 296 (Decimal)

b << 3 = 1001010000 = 592 (Decimal)

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6. Bitwise Right Shit (>>)

Shifts the bits to the right and fills the gaps formed on the left with 0.

  • Example #1

a = 157 = 10011101 (Binary)

a >> 1 = 1001110 = 78 (Decimal)

a >> 2 = 100111 = 39 (Decimal)

a >> 3 = 10011 = 19 (Decimal)

  • Example #2

b = 89 = 1011001 (Binary)

b >> 1 = 101100 = 44 (Decimal)

b >> 2 = 010110 = 22 (Decimal)

b >> 3 = 001011 = 11 (Decimal)

Bitwise Operators in Python (Examples With Code)

Following are some simple code snippets to illustrate bitwise operators in Python:

1. Bitwise AND, OR, NOT, and XOR



2. Bitwise Shift Operators



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What are bitwise operators used for?

Bitwise operators in Python are used to perform bitwise calculations on integer values. For this, the integers are first transformed into binary, and then various operations are performed on, bit by bit, returning the resulting in decimal format. In Python, bitwise operators can be used only on integers.

Are bitwise operators fast?

On a simple, low-cost processor, bitwise operators are typically faster than division, multiplication, and often substantially faster than addition. In general, bitwise operators use fewer resources and hence use significantly less power.

What is the use of logical operators in Python?

Python has three logical operators that allow comparing values. The three logical operators AND, OR, and NOT evaluate expressions to Boolean values and return True or False based on the operator’s outcome. Given below are the three logical operators in Python:

1. AND ( a and b): True if both expressions are true
2. OR (a or b): True if at least one expression is true
3. NOT (not a): True only if the expression is false

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